Friday, October 02, 2009

Anxiety Dreams

I put these two dreams on the Annandale Dream Gazette. To me they represent something of my anxiety about presenting at a conference, but more than this they relate to my struggles against being silenced.

Dream 1:
27 September 2009

This morning I dreamed I went to visit the house of some friends. It was an unusual house in that there was a long low movable wall around its perimeter. At several points in the wall there were gaps to take the place of doors. You could move this wall with a simple push and get the openings to fit to the door of each room in the house. It was like opening the lid of a pepper dispenser. You push the lid around and different size holes become available depending on whether you want a light sprinkling of pepper or a great handful.

My friend’s daughter was in her room. I call him my friend but he’s more my husband’s friend. I have an ambivalent relationship with my husband’s friend, but somehow my feelings about him did not feature in the dream nor my feelings about his daughter, who is a strange person I find in real life, though in the dream she seemed normal.

She had gone to a great deal of trouble to tidy her room and yet I noticed the drawers were bulging and stuff peeped out through the cracks of the wardrobes as if she had simply stuffed things inside willy-nilly. There was a false sense of order here.

My youngest daughter who in the dream was still a toddler joined us. A carefree, cheerful toddler. Then a little ball of fur on legs walked across the room. It looked innocent enough and I asked my friend’s daughter what it was.
‘Stay away from them,’ she said. ‘They’re trouble.’ The ball of fur suddenly let out a spray of the foulest stench imaginable into the room and we all reeled back.
‘That’s what they do,’ my friend’s daughter said. ‘And if they manage to get some of that stink on you, it sticks for ages.’

I swooped up my daughter and tried to escape the monstrous ball of fur, which I felt sure was getting ready to spray us again.

The doors slid around the room and my friend, my husband’s friend arrived, all bluster and swagger. He remonstrated with his daughter for keeping the walls fixed in one place. He had had trouble getting in.

I was aware as if in a flash that there were other dangers lurking here in this oddly designed house and I must be careful.

Dream 2:
30 September 2009.

On the morning of my presentation at a life writing conference called The Story of the Story I had a dream that felt so real it still seems as though it actually happened. I dreamed that when it came time for me to present my paper in the Noel Stockdale room within the library at Flinders University I went ahead of the others to set up and to tweak my paper for the last time.

In my dream an old friend, who is now dead, LB was the conference convenor. LB once lectured me in psychology. He was born around the same time as my father.

People had already arrived in time for the third day of the conference to begin. They sat in rows faces turned towards the front in readiness. LB asked me to start. Some people were still rustling papers and chatting to one another, so I had to repeat my first sentence. Then I started fumbling my words. I lost my place on the page and could not find it for what seemed like ages. People shifted in their seats and began to talk among one another. I could not regain their attention. I tried from the beginning and spoke loudly but my words would not flow.

I had rehearsed and rehearsed. I had tried hard. Now here it was: my turn to present, my turn at last, last speaker of the conference, and I could not get the audience to listen.

I tried to catch LB’s eye, to plead with him to get the audience to settle, but he would not look at me. The people in the audience then seemed to lose patience altogether and before I knew it they had decided to break for morning tea.

I had lost my opportunity to present. It had passed without my saying a word of what I needed to say. I was devastated and stood at the podium in tears. There was a small group of people nearby, the ones with whom I had shared a car en route to the conference. They ignored me, too. I was furious, but flooded with tears.

In my dream LB had become a medical doctor not just a PhD. I wailed to a woman nearby about how unfair he had been in not insisting to the audience that I be allowed to have my turn. I had tried so hard to prepare and now no one wanted to hear from me.

I woke sobbing and nothing felt as if it would ever be any good again.
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