Friday, October 30, 2009

Midlife Dream Play--III Ilumination

After a few more years of midlife dreamplay with Z, my therapist and guide, I arrived for the session after sharing a dream in which my deceased mother fell to the ground where I took her in my arms and told her that I loved her, and was told by the doorman, "We wouldn't be meeting today." He gave me her room number in the hospital. I knew that she was old but I didn't know her age. Since she hadn't called and canceled our session, I feared that it was serious. As I returned home to call the hospital, the image of holding my mother in my arms flashed in my mind and I felt the emotions again, but for Z this time.

My fears grew when I called her hospital room and got no answer. I called the nurses station and was told that she had an infection and was in for tests but had fallen and broken her hip while trying to find the toilet in the night. And I had just told her the dream the previous session!

I went to the hospital for visitor's hours the next day. She looked beat up, had a black eye and bruises on her arm. I touched her fingers gently and was reassured by her grip. I realized that I had never done the same for my mother and was thankful for a second chance before realizing that this was not a dream.

"So you started your August vacation a week early," I said, but was still uncertain what was real and what was dream. I just stood there holding her hand and gazing into her battered face. With her sitting behind me in therapy I only looked her in the face as I arrived and left, and I was the one lying down the rest of the time. This was a disconcerting reversal. For a moment I thought she had staged it all for the therapeutic effect, but her condition was far too real. She was the patient now, I thought. I squeezed her hand and repeated my words to my mother in the dream, "I love you."

In our first session after Z’s vacation, I shared this dream:
I'm in the dining room of my childhood home and focus on a framed figure from the wallpaper (Colonial Williamsburg pattern). I feel sorrow and cry. "You're crying for your lost childhood, not your home," I chastise myself. I go to my childhood bedroom, but my parents are there, asleep on a sofa bed. My mother gets up and hugs me, and I am reassured to feel her two breasts after her mastectomy. "Wrong room," I say and go to my grandmother's room, but my uncle and his wife are staying there. Then I realize that my parent's room with their plantation bed is my room now.

Even my dream is telling me that my childhood is not my home. We don't go back home to childhood but to our home for the second half of life. Even our lost completeness, what I am crying for, is not the completeness of the second half. Completeness was originally merger, oneness, and, as the midlife journey teaches, the resolution of the conflict of duality, of Plato's split people, becomes neither one nor two in the second half. Colonial Williamsburg is gone with the wind along with childhood.

I do a final tour of the home that I cry for--first my bedroom where I find my parents sitting on a sofa bed, the place for overnight guests. They are gone now and just visiting. I move on to my grandmother's room. She ran the kitchen and the cleaning woman--my first Z. She's gone also, replaced by her son, my uncle, just as I have replaced my parents. Their room is mine now. In reality their plantation bed is in the guest room of my current home, where I must return.

It is ironic that my mother died of breast cancer as if her nurturance was diseased. Now she has been made whole again after my previous dream of holding her in my arms and saying that I love her, which I repeated to Z in the hospital. The symbol was integrated into my midlife home when my eleven-year-old daughter greeted me with a hug and the news that she had gotten her first bra the night before the dream. In case I hadn't noticed.

It required years of dreamplay with Z in my childhood home to restore my mother’s nurturance, just as the play of darkness and light transformed the dark father into the ruddy-faced grocer in the previous post. The trickster is very playful!