Transformation is a dream about moving beyond the “neurotic” suffering of regurgitating past wounds and injustices which stem for PTSD or Complex PTSD. I was able to transform through “real” suffering by working on the issues in therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, taking my medications as prescribed. By transforming I mean being able to feel alive again, having a sense of drive and purpose restored to my life.
Clown Fish Turns Parana
I am lying on the beach and my hand is extended into the water where a clown fish about the size of my hand is biting on my finger. This clown fish had big teeth. It was my right hand, the finger next to the pinky = 4th digit. It hurt a little, like when a puppy is chewing playfully on your fingers, but I let the fish get away with it and let him continue to bite my finger.
Then, I playfully caught the fish with my other hand and pulled it out of the water to turn the tables on it. I sensed that the fish was frightened by my maneuver so I put it back into the water and gave it my hand to continue biting, but it was a clone of my hand because I left the hand in the water and still had my original hand attached.
The Glowing Finger – Transformation
Then the finger that the fish was biting starts to glow – on the hand that is still attached – just the upper third part of the finger. It glows like one of those green light sticks where you break the internal tube and it becomes luminous as the chemicals mix.
My younger daughters are taking pictures of my ‘glowing’ finger when I am under a beach umbrella in the shade where the luminosity is contrasted – I am holding my hand up over my head. There is a guy explaining to his children that my finger is glowing because I have had serious problems. He is aware I was just playing around with my girls by showing them how it glowed and he knew I was aware that it wasn’t a trick or game, but serious business.
A Trickster Appears
As I am leaving the beach, gathering my possessions, some guy mixes his possessions up with mine. My jacket size is 44” and his was size 50” but he thinks one jacket that is a size 44” is his. We both seemed to have the same colored jackets – except for the one in dispute. I think I had about three or four jackets and so did he and we’re trying to sort them out. I get the feeling he mixed the jackets up intentionally trying to get my jacket. I am thinking the guy is a real jerk.
Then, I found a pair of sunglasses that were obviously left behind and forgotten, so I took them.
As we are leaving the beach, a mother is screaming. I look out into the water and I can see the silhouette of young girl floating on a wave in the water with her hands cupped as if she was about to hug someone and I can tell the child is dead. I turn my head quickly because I do not want to face the situation – it is too painful, too horrible. I quickly head towards the exit.
It’s Time to Go
The park rangers are closing the beach, I think the reason was because it was 5:00 PM, which was closing time, and the park rangers were directing everyone to the exits. The line was long as I was trying to leave, so I tried taking a shortcut under what appeared to be the boardwalk with the bathhouse in front of it.
I go down a short flight of stairs and there are bunch of coins lying on the cement and I want to pick them up but I think they might belong to a woman in a two piece bathing suit that’s lying on a towel. She is not that close to the coins, so I think they just fell from people walking above, but decided just to head for the stairs on the other side which led back to the top level. I leave the coins and turn my head quickly away from the woman – although I wanted to look at her.
Break on through to the Other Side
The stairway is very hard to access. I have to go through a very narrow slot between the boards above me. The folded beach chair I was carrying made it through; I don’t know how my large body was going to go through the thin slot. But next thing I know I am heading towards the gate on the upper level. I pass the beach house where another woman I was attracted to is staying. But once again after a quick glance at the house, I head straight toward the exit as rapidly as possible.
Dream interpretation: “Transformation
“Real” Suffering vs. “Neurotic” Suffering
Being bitten by the fish may represent “real” suffering as opposed to “neurotic” suffering. Real suffering can be seen as a level where the person suffering adopts a certain level of acceptance for pain or discomfort as opposed to having a deep resentment for having to bear the suffering. Since I am letting the fish nibble on me, I have basically accepted a certain level of suffering and I assume, giving it a hand – I must see this as a ongoing proposition. (See detail description at end for in-depth look at real versus neurotic suffering)
Real suffering allows for transformation and for personal growth, but neurotic suffering is repetitive and leads to endless regurgitation of past offenses and resentments. Neurotic suffering stunts or stagnates growth or personal development.
Allowing Real Suffering to Take Place
Giving my hand to the fish is realizing that I must give my attention to the suffering – it needed to be worked on to remove some of the roadblocks in my life. The energy created from the analytical work or perhaps I should say ‘freed up’ because it is no longer being totally consumed in neurotic tasks – is now available for creative work. The energy is beginning to flow in a small part of me in the dream – and I can see the difference in reality because I am becoming fully engaged in my projects. Also, depression has almost disappeared from my life – but, I still do take my medications as prescribed.
The dream makes reference to my ex-boss and ex-wife both of who were sources of major neurotic suffering in my life. After burning out on this for many years – I finally surrendered and realized I could not exist carrying these resentments and began some positive work on letting them go. So, the dream includes references to both the problems and the solution.
The On-Going Process of Real Suffering
Giving the fish the cloned hand may represent that I do see this work as a continuing proposition and I will need to continue working on converting the neurotic behavior or thinking, usually driven by anger and rage, into constructive forms of energy release. Exercise is a good way of doing this because I can use that energy provided by the anger to swim extra laps at the pool. After which I will be much calmer for other work and activities.
The ‘glowing finger’ is the ‘spark of life’ growing within me–it is only a beginning because I have been shut down emotionally for most of my life. But it is the first sign of true growth or of highly energetic life residing in me– the creative element.
Allowing Myself to Feel Again
I have long been able to understand things on an intellectual level; now the intellectual level is being connected with emotions – i.e. excitement about insights – that’ll allow me to project this knowledge on a more confident or authoritative level because of the connection between experiences and the supporting emotions which gives the confidence to state knowledge on a firmer level of assurance from within. This allows me to ignore or annihilate the internal persecutory predator – therefore less afraid to state what I really think.
Trickster is Internal Persecutory Predator
The internal persecutory predator is that endless self-critical set of tapes that play in your head – tearing at your character flaws and foibles with a rapacity of a tyrannical maniac. Well, they used to be tapes now they are probably available MD3s or check U-tube if you can’t find them in your head.
This internal persecutory predator may be the guy mixing his possessions up with mine. He is trying to regain or re-establish control. He reminds me of my old boss who would mix things up so that he could claim possession of my accounts and ideas. The old boss’s mentality is embedded into my own subconscious, perhaps keeping me from claiming the right to my own work or holding me back with a fear that someone will try to take it. This jerk of a boss would be highly critical of any of my ideas in public, and then later, restate the idea as if it were his. He was the president – absolute power corrupts absolutely. I know now not to associate with these kinds of people.
Embodiment of the “Spark of Life”
The finger actually glows– the connection with the ‘spark of life’ has been embodied – a level of transformation has taken place.
The emotional or spiritual connection was almost severed in real life because of the early trauma –ironically, it is the finger, in reality, that was almost severed. This part of my finger that glowed was almost completely cut off in an accident when I was four or five years old and had to be sewn back on. It is interesting to me that the mind connected the almost physically separated finger from 57 years ago with the almost emotionally separated spirit, perhaps because they were approximately separated at the same time. I have not consciously thought about that accident for a long time.
The severity of the emotional separation is made note of by the father in the dream explaining to his children that the glowing represents serious problems from the past. He is aware that it is not a fun magic trick, but a force that emanated from trauma.
Playing around with the glowing finger with my daughters is perhaps that I will occasionally show them my dreams on the website and let them know how they are doing as far as the statistic ratings– but, they have no idea as to the real content. As far as they know, dream interpretation is just sorcery.
A Final Separation from the Ex-Wife
The dead child floating in the water I assume is the spirit of my ex-wife. There was a picture of my ex-wife as a young girl about 10 years old. She was laughing and playing in the surf with her mother – she had a look of true joy and excitement in that picture. When I tried to get her into therapy 10 years ago when things started to get shaky, that was the look I wanted to restore to her.
My ex-wife rejected the therapy because she thought I was trying to control her through it, when in reality I was trying to free her. She could not see this because she had major trust issues due to rather severe long term abuse by her older bullying brother.
Instead, she stuck with her addictions and is basically destroying herself, leaving very little hope to get real ‘life’ back into her body – hence the girl has drowned at the beach. I turned my head because I did not want to deal with the pain again. (See dream “The Beautiful Fish”) When I was 13, I witnessed a little girl get killed by a car, the mother was screaming – it was horrific. Never want to see that again. It overwhelms one’s senses with negative emotions – nothing positive can be done – nothing can fix it – everyone is totally helpless in such a moment.
Acceptance of Real Suffering leads to Transformation
Helen Luke stated the following, “True suffering belongs to innocence not guilt…. Deeply ingrained in the infantile psyche is the conscious or unconscious assumption that the cure for depression is to replace it with pleasant, happy feelings. Whereas the only valid cure for any kind of depression lies in the acceptance of real suffering.” As with all addictions, the addict wants a quick fix from depression or the negative feelings about themselves – and my ex-wife keeps reaching for hers. Now, she is ten years further into the void.
The woman under the boardwalk or bathhouse with the coins is possibly, also, my ex-wife. I’ve given up on “me trying to fix her” and of the possibility of her sharing the Social Security benefits for the children; therefore I am passing by the change. It is not an option, I just have to move on. She is in the two piece bathing suit but I just glance to make sure I’m not going to step on her. I move by quickly without paying attention even though there was a desire to both pick up the money and look at the woman– I know better now. I am beginning to transform.
I still find my ex-wife attractive, however, I walk by the house of a woman who I am, also, attracted to in the dream – I believe this means that I am considering other women now, and no longer consider my ex-wife an option.
This ‘moving on’ process is metaphorically represented by the park rangers directing the crowd off the beach where I encounter my cheating ex-boss and the disasters surrounding my marriage. I didn’t think I was going to make it through that narrow slot between the planks on the boardwalk – but I made it – somehow. This having to squeeze through the narrow, impossible opening represents the difficulty of the transformation process – (The Eye of the Needle metaphor). I went to therapy, took my medications, attended my AA meetings and worked on my dreams, and, now, I am on the other side which represents that a transformation has taken place.
End of Interpretation of Transformation
Explanation of ‘Real Suffering’ as opposed to ‘Neurotic Suffering’
The majority of this section is based on work by Helen Luke which is as presented in Donald Kalsched book “Trauma and the Soul”.
“Real suffering is usually attained by survivors of trauma by reaching some low point of despair or depression and through work in therapy” or a 12-step program –“they are able to reach a level of self-acceptance and an acceptance of the human condition”. (Feeling comfortable in your own skin.) When one suffers with acceptance – they can grow beyond the trauma and move forward with their life. This low point would be comparable to the “pitiful, incomprehensible demoralization” referred in 12-steps programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Neurotic suffering is a state where the sufferer bears the pain with deep resentment and they make use of their defense mechanisms to keep away anything that will possibly make them feel the affect sensation of the original trauma. Denial and addictions are two ways to keep these feared sensations at bay. The neurotic sufferer tends to cover the same ground over and over again (and boy, do I know). It is suffering that leads nowhere, except to continued misery.
“The challenge is to revisit this hell of unthinkable trauma and re-experience the unbelievable affect within a window of tolerance” or self-acceptance. (Do not do this at home – especially alone.) Normally, one does work like this with a therapist or in a 4th step with a sponsor. “One has to face the full measure of terrifying affect that has led to dissociation and deadening in their life” per Helen Luke.
“When this painful process has been negotiated – the nature of suffering changes – and one must gain an acceptance of the suffering and let go of the resentments if they are to grow in their lives. One must adopt an increasing tolerance for one’s affects – this can only happen as one relaxes their defense mechanisms” (see dream on Defense Mechanisms) – this from or implied by Helen Luke.
“Basically, one becomes to have a simple acceptance of the human condition, usually made possible by a long journey” (therapy or 12-step program) “with a witnessing partner” (therapist or sponsor). The therapy part by Helen Luke, I added 12-step programs – if an addict, both is best
Helen Luke’s succinct summary “the minute we accept objectively the guilt and shame, the innocent part of us begins to suffer, the weight becomes a sword. We bleed, and the energy flows back into us on a deeper and more conscious level”. Hence, the finger glows in the dream because the energy is flowing back into my life.
Finding the sunglasses? Hopefully, this is a sign I will need them more often in the future.
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