Humanizing Mr. Hyde

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A few weeks ago I dreamed my husband was critical of me for wanting to leave a social situation. I felt wounded and angry, and when I asked him why he was being so mean, he held up a mirror and I was embarrassed to see a silly-looking woman wearing outdated black-rimmed cat’s eye glasses and a goofy black hat with fluffy puffs of tulle over each ear.
This dream dramatized some uncomfortable feelings and ways of seeing myself that had been accumulating after six days and nights of intense social interactions. I had looked forward to these activities and enjoyed them, but for an introvert, a schedule like this can be very draining and when I’m exhausted I start worrying that maybe I’m too uptight, too out of touch, too eccentric, too withdrawn, wearing the wrong clothes, saying stupid things, blah, blah, blah!
What I saw in the mirror was a caricature of the “too-whatever” negative self-image I had built up over that week. I think Dream Mother was showing me how silly I was being in an attempt to get me to lighten up. She also wanted me to see what was happening to my animus, symbolized in this dream by my husband.  Normally my masculine side is a hard-working, enthusiastic, very helpful Dr. Jekyll/writing partner. But too much socializing had tired him out and transformed him into his shadow, and this stressed-out Mr. Hyde was taking out his frustration on me.
If I were a hermit with no family or friends it would be easy to protect myself from energy drains. Being alone and  having plenty of time to get in touch with myself and my surroundings is very restorative. But I love a man who gets energy from being with people and cramming as many activities as he can into every day.  Over the years we’ve adjusted to each others’ styles and gotten pretty good at compromising, but changes in routine still present challenges.
Traveling is particularly challenging. As I write this we’ve just returned from a 12-day trip to Italy with dear old friends. We love to travel, adore our friends and had a marvelous time. But to my way of thinking, we established an overly zealous schedule without enough down time. Tensions mounted all around as we rushed to buy tickets, make connections, navigate our car through annoying roundabouts on crowded roads, reach destinations, see sights, buy gifts, and still be on time for dinner reservations. Despite my determination to stay calm and centered, by the end of the trip my dream of a few weeks ago was playing out in my waking life. So it was that over dinner on the last night, Mr. Hyde, who had had quite enough of being repressed, thank you, pushed Dr. Jekyll aside and kidnapped my personality!
While Mr. Hyde was being critical and attaching blame, my ego, like my dream ego, was looking into the mirror of myself.  Feeling painfully embarrassed about how silly I must have looked I went to our room and began to meditate. After a while I remembered that nobody was responsible for my feelings but me. I lightened up, got over my snit, and tucked Mr. Hyde into bed for a much-needed rest.
Wholeness does not abide at either pole of any continuum but swings somewhere in between. No one but us can find our soul’s sweet spot. Seeing and owning our dark sides is half the battle. The other half is forgiving ourselves for being human so we can recover our humanity.

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  1. Bless you for writing this! I just had the same sort of experience happen to me and I just wrote about my shadow side on my blog too. I’ve been resting my Mr. Hyde this week and he is much happier. It is true about it being a battle to forgive myself too.
    Please keep writing and sharing!

  2. I loved this blog – I’ve often .wondered how you managed Being married to an introvert has taught me the value of “down time” – time for reflection and musing.

  3. Wonderful story, Jeanie. And yes, very universal.
    Seems to me this is where I entered the conversation a few months ago. In an earlier post you wrote about your more hectic life in FL, followed by much needed downtime in the Carolinas. I can really relate to that.
    As for foreign travel, my idea of a great trip is renting a car and heading out. “We’ll figure it out along the way.” I do have a few sites or restaurants that I might plan to see but I really enjoy the “Let’s see what comes up,” aspect of traveling. When I look back on my vacations the best moments were the unplanned, unexpected ones. It seems to me when I’m less structured I meet the most interesting people and have the most compelling conversations. I’m not sure why that works but it does. Perhaps I give myself more time to get into the “flow” of a a particular town, neighborhood or city.
    Another thought provoking, well written, interesting post.
    Charlie

    1. Thanks, Charlie. Yes, the doing/being dichotomy is a recurring theme that keeps popping up in all sorts of ways. I think I keep writing about it to gain more perspective on it. I, too, love the spontaneous, unstructured mode of traveling you write about, although we rarely do it. One of my favorite vacation memories is of looking for a B & B in northern Scotland one evening and finding nothing until we came across a sign beside a dark road that pointed the way to the Invergarry Castle Hotel. When we followed it we ended up at an exquisite restored mansion beside a peaceful loch complete with grazing sheep on the shore, a dog resting by the fire in the reception room, an excellent restaurant with a spectacular view of the hills, a lingering sunset that went from pink to lavender to purple over the course of a couple of hours, and a hot water bottle in our bed! I’d like more of that. Jeanie

  4. Hi Jeanie,
    I laughed when I read your blog… still chuckling as I write. I read your post yesterday morning after having my own shadow dream! After a week or two of periodically giving advice to relatives and friends undergoing trying circumstances, I was feeling quite sage and self-satisfied, ignoring that tiny voice that just maybe I should ease up on the ‘helping’. I continued to counsel in my dream by dispensing my wisdom to the Prime Minister! I just don’t know how he’s managing to run the country without me! bett fitz

    1. Hi Bett, I’m adding my laughter to yours. It sounds like we’re both learning to ease up and lighten up! If dreams did nothing else, that would be enough, wouldn’t it? Jeanie

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