“Oh man! You keep answering my calls! No one else is picking up when I call but you are always there. It’s the first time I don’t feel alone since I’ve been here.” JH, 30 yrs old
“I don’t know how you do what you do, Girl, but I can feel myself changing and it’s messed up. Somehow you made me realize what everyone’s been sayin’ to me, my mom, my sister, my girl, the police, my lawyers. Now I understand what they’ve been saying. I want to be better. I think you are already helping me get better. ” TK, 23 years old
“I got you, Rachel, you know? You’re doin’ all this to help us out. I’m gonna help you, what you’re doing, you know what I’m sayin’?” TS, 27 yrs old
“Hey I’m going to call you “Q” that’s who you are because you ask so many Questions but the thing is, you ask the kinds of questions to make me question my SELF. So that’s what’s so wild about the way you do things. You make me question my self. So that’s your new “jail name.” It’s Q.” DC, 34 yrs old
“I have like 14 months until I am done a 20 year 5 month sentence. I just turned 40 and have a lot going for me within the next 2-3 years…Thank you for your letter.” JB, 40 yrs old
– an excerpt from the book with dreams from inmates
Josh’s Cop Dream & an Introduction to Jail Metaphors
30-year-old Hamilton resident, Josh H. shared a dream in spring of 2018. His dream depicted a scenario with a police officer. In real life, an officer shot Josh in the leg and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) opened a file to determine if the officer had used excessive force during the arrest. After he was shot in the leg, arrested and incarcerated Josh began having nightmares. In November 2018, SIU charged the arresting officer with attempted murder. The trial is pending. Here is Josh’s dream:
“It’s about me when I first got here. I was in the infirmary … I was calling my girl from my cell in Maplehurst. She answered the phone bawling her eyes out. I asked her what’s wrong and she tells me when she was leaving our house for work, as she was pulling out of the driveway there was a police cruiser waiting by the corner of our block. As she pulled out they started to follow her and my daughter. About two blocks away they put on their lights & sirens. She pulls over. An officer gets out and walks up to her car. As he approaches, she says she got out her driver’s license she opened the window and went to hand him her driver’s license He says, “Oh no Shauna, that won’t be necessary.” He looked to the back seat and said, “Well, well, well, this must be Josh’s baby girl.” And then he was like, “how’re you ladies doing this morning.” Shauna told me she was taken aback by this and asked him how did he know their names? He said he knew all of our names and he tells her he knows a lot more than their names. He tells her he knows her entire schedule and that her and Leah are home alone everyday. He says he is here on behalf of a colleague, in particular, the man who shot me. He tells her that if I don’t tell them what he wants me to tell them, meaning SIU (Special Investigations Unit), that she just may disappear for good. She starts bawling her eyes out again and tells me on the phone I need to do what these cops are saying and of course I agree.
A few minutes later the COs [Correction Officers] come and tell me I have a professional visit. I go to the visit and the cop who shot me is sitting there. He cuts right to the chase and says, “Have you gotten our message? Did you talk to Shauna?” I told them I did get their message and I’ll do whatever they ask me to. Just don’t hurt my family. He says then I need to tell them I lied about what happened and that I actually don’t remember what happened. He says if I don’t follow through he will personally kill Leah and Shauna and the rest of my kids and will make sure their bodies are never found. I tell him I will do what he says but I tell him what a piece of shit I think he is. And then he slams his fists on the table, telling me I’m not playing with street gangs anymore, and there’s a loud bang and again I wake up dripping sweat and breathing really heavily.”
My analysis of the dream begins with the importance of removing any thoughts of judgment. Every human being makes mistakes. Every human being falls short of their truest potential. No one is perfect. No one knows all the answers. Not only that but the culture we live in is not perfect either. There are very old systems in place which are outdated, antiquated, and erroneous. Many of these old systems are falling and crumbling around us, day by day. At the same time new systems are taking root in the society around us. Families are coming together in unity. Communities are taking ownership of themselves and empowering one another to thrive. And cities are transforming, becoming more reflective of the equality which is inherent to every human being. Humanity is waking up to its fullest potentialities. Casting off the shackles of the past and forging forward as an ever-advancing civilization.
Listening to dreams from people who are imprisoned and offering interpretations for transformation not only helps release the dreamer from their unconscious fears and anxieties but in sharing these dreams & interpretations we can get a glimpse of key elements which would help free those who may physically live in conditions of so-called “Freedom” but who are emotionally or mentally imprisoned within their own fears.
The reason Josh’s dream is so great is that it shows where he and his partner want to go in life is having a safe and comfortable family. This shows up in the dream when his wife is driving their daughter to daycare and he’s saying he’d be willing to do anything to keep his family safe. These are the highest aspirations of the dreamer’s True Self. These are noble and honourable wishes. The role of a father is to support and protect their children so the dream shows he aspires to fulfill this role.
What stops him in the dream will be explored in the book. The things which stop him are the very same things which stop everyone. No one is exempt or free from this test in life. When we face a challenge, we can either give up or we can embrace it. This dream shows that when the dreamer sets his intentions to overcoming challenges he has a tremendous capacity to be able to achieve amazing things. This dream shows he has the ability to take authority over the fears & anxieties which limit him and he has the capacity to be a loving and supportive father. His dream so perfectly shows the double challenge which prisoners have in real life. They have the nightmare they are living within the prison walls and they have the inner nightmare of facing some pretty difficult things to face, like cops shouting and slamming their hands on tables. The solution is to become the authority over Self. As he does this more and more he will find the healing & justice his True Self is seeking.You can read what CTV posted when attempted murder charges were laid against the cop 9 months after Josh shared his dream at this link. Josh has not yet had a trial and his charges may still be dropped for lack of evidence backing up the charge.
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The Mission of Healing With Dreamwork is to take what people think of as dream interpretation to a deeper level of transformation
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It brings me joy to share details of the new dreamwork initiative launched in jails across Ontario. This email aims to answer some questions, shed some light on the scope of the project, and invite people to get involved in anyway they wish.
Throughout 2014 – 2018, I began exploring dream metaphors of jails, cops, detectives and solving crimes. I was also living in a city formally known as “The Murder Capital of Canada” and while there was researching and writing to expose the components within environments which breed criminal behaviour, especially crimes against children and women.
In 2018, I started hearing dreams from inmates at Maplehurst Correctional Complex and giving interpretations. The idea with the way I do dreamwork is to take what people usually think of as dream interpretation to a deeper level with a focus on transformation. In the past year, more than 22 inmates have shared their dreams and together we walked through some of the biggest issues from the dream, usually related to strong negative emotions such as fear, anger or disappointment. This innovative approach seeks to identify skills, capacities and strengths in the dreamer so that he can use these strengths to solve the complex challenges facing him in daily life.
One Saturday in January seven people called; many of them called two or three times so I had several 40-60 minute sessions. Each of the inmates either had a new dream to share or wanted to continue talking about the issues brought up from dreams they shared earlier in the week. Issues range from working through childhood trauma & sexual abuse, issues with addiction, struggling with anger, post-holiday disappointment and working with strong feelings of guilt or remorse for the actions associated with their charges. Many of them either have court coming up or were just returning from court and were feeling discouraged with the lengthy trial process.
In addition to the therapy work, I also support them with legal matters occasionally. I’ve mediated discussions with lawyers and advocated during a couple medical emergencies. In December, I acted as a media liaison for a highly publicized case involving criminal charges pressed against a cop who shot an inmate. The inmate has recurring nightmares about the shooting and the dreams reveal tremendous strength and capacity. Often times, inmates ask me to send texts or phone calls to their family members, their children, their spouses. I like to think that these connections help to strengthen relationships during the incarceration of their loved one and helps ease the strain of the cold institutional setting just a wee bit. It’s a bit like a ray of sunshine after a storm.
Last month, the dreamwork program expanded with three new clients. This brings the total number up to about 20, including two who have been released and call occasionally for support during crisis. One of the inmates told me something today which shows how valuable the work is.
He said, “Rachel, I don’t know how you do what you do but let me tell you that I can see myself changing somehow. It’s crazy. It’s like if I were a tree with all these broken and dead branches on me I‘m just now noticing that they need to be cut down and chopped off and I need to stop doing some stuff I used to do but didn’t realize how bad it was. It’s like I had diseased skin on my back that I didn’t know was there but I see it now and I’m getting rid of it. You’re amazing. You make me work so damn hard but I have hope now. You’ve given me something to look forward to and when I get out things will be better. I know it. When I have a messed up dream I just sit in my cell thinking about what you would say it means and I figured out that I need to start to pay more attention to what other people need and think and feel and I should stop only thinking of myself. I don’t know how you do it but you are changing me.”