I am with a man. He is trying to show me something. We are climbing a tree together. The branches are far apart and he leaps from one to the next. I feel how I can do it because I trust him, so I leap too. At first we are climbing at the same pace, but then I am above him. The branches have gotten smaller and I start to feel insecure. I look back down at him. He points to a rotten branch next to me and I knock it with my foot and we watch it fall to the ground. I feel like I have gotten too far ahead of him and I realize that I am scared. He starts to climb back down and I follow him.The man, of course, is the Animus and I am the girl filled with trust in Him, but then something happens. What is in this seam? Where I suddenly forget him and become independent? When I get ahead of Him, I am really “out on a limb”, in danger, putting myself or perhaps my emotional serenity at risk. The pride is astounding. It is unconscious, learned, habitual. It is a perfect example of how the dream shows the truth of the ways we stay separated from our souls. The dreams show how I am in the world, allowing me to experience viscerally the difference between the trust in Him and the habit of the pathological way of being. This creates the possibility for change, if I want it. But it is hard to let go of pathology. I am so tied to it. I believe in it so much. There is not a single pathological characteristic that I would let go of that wouldn’t have claw marks on it! The truth is, many of these characteristics have served me well. They were great in a life devoted to the avoidance of feeling. And when they caused me grief, well that is the price of dealing with the devil.
My therapist, Sue, asks me what this independence looks like for me in the world. I try to think of some way that I am not independent, for my whole life seems to be built on self sufficiency and self reliance. This independence has been very useful to me living and surviving in the world. It came into play when I left home at 15. It allowed me to build a career in a “man’s world” and be successful in the way that women can sometimes be when they are like one of the guys (although ultimately it is an illusion, since when push comes to shove, a woman is never one of the guys). As a lesbian, childless, I have accessed a level of autonomy and freedom that my siblings and many of my friends haven’t. Being the strong, Amazonian woman, I refused to subjugated myself to the fragile male ego, tip-toeing around so as not to offend “my guy”. I removed myself from the constant battle of keeping the over-whelming male sexual energy at bay, instead choosing to tie myself to the softer, feminine energy, a different neediness that further fosters the independence in me. When I was younger and single (in between relationships), it was not uncommon for me to seek out the company of men, but there was never any emotional tie…no waiting by the phone wondering if he would call or if he liked me. I simply didn’t care about that because I was completely isolated in my autonomy. I had no real need for a man, but it was easy, expedient, relatively low drama if you don’t have the typically female angst of “does he like me??” And certainly, it was more socially acceptable to be dating a guy.
I never experienced emotional heartbreak, in the arms of a man or a woman, though I believe that many times I did love deeply. There was always a part of me that I kept for me, separate, autonomous, untouchable. Reading what I have written here so far, I feel the pain of this independence, how it has separated me from my vulnerability, my passion, my libido, my need, my soul. I can feel the soullessness of that place. Knowing this independence was born out of trauma does not provide any succor or relief for the pain, the regret of life not lived. There needs to be no story. It just is. It is what happened.
Many of these thoughts run through my head when Sue asks me how my independence looks in the world. I share some of my disjointed thoughts about men and gender. But ultimately, it is just another story of the world that I can use to keep myself separate, it is a story of my past, not my present. I have been in relationship now for almost 15 years with someone who I deeply care about and love. So, instead, I tell her that I have noticed that I often make plans without consulting my partner. I am spontaneous, stopping to visit with friends or run errands, make purchases, plans, deals often without the input of my partner or anyone else. In many ways, it is a comfortable place for us in our relationship, but just as often, I am called on the carpet by Vanessa for not including her in the decision making and a couple of times I have made decisions that she truly disagreed with and was upset by.
In my journey through recovery from addiction, I had to learn how to bring a sense of some kind of power greater than myself to situations. In the dreamwork, it is the same teaching, how to bring God to every moment. To know that there is a God and it is not me. I see how I am changing. I know that I hold back less from my partner. I see that I have moved more deeply into relationship, which has not been easy. I see how often I tell folks, who are used to me making social plans and arrangements on the fly, that I need to check in with partner. I have shared more deeply of myself with Vanessa. I am stepping out of the place of isolation, bringing all of who I am.
Just as in the dream, I turn back and follow Him, I am learning to be more thoughtful and patient, to coral my independence without killing all my tree-climbing boy energy. To live more fully in my truth. To become God reliant instead of self reliant is the key. It seems an overwhelming task. I believe that I forget, but perhaps, just as often, I am stubborn, claws hooked in.