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I asked him why he was being so mean, he held up a mirror and I was embarrassed to see a silly-looking woman wearing outdated black-rimmed cat’s eye glasses and a goofy black hat with fluffy puffs of tulle over each ear.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very draining and when I’m exhausted I start worrying that maybe I’m too uptight, too out of touch, too eccentric, too withdrawn, wearing the wrong clothes, saying stupid things, blah, blah, blah!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.
“Man, like the other animals, is originally simply the puppet of instinct, just as the infant is. Unless he is moved by instinct, he remains