I haven’t written about a dream for a while but I felt this one was mysterious yet meaningful enough to warrant a mention. Like most of my dreams it holds an important message when reflected upon.
I dreamed I went to see a counsellor at her home-based private practice. I sat opposite her on a couch whilst she sat on a chair; there was an area in her house dedicated to the purpose of counselling. There was a library to the right of her and whilst in the middle of the session I remember looking up and seeing a lady walk past and go into another room.
To start the session I said ‘I have a difficult ex husband’ to which she replied ‘I can see in the way you hold your shoulders.’ She advised me to breathe into my belly to ease the tension, which I did. Around about this point I noticed that the counsellor’s limbs were misshapen; her arms were small and stumpy, underdeveloped, although she did have hands. She asked me to describe myself and I replied ‘I’m spiritual, quite intelligent, I went to university.’
She began to end the session which annoyed me as it was really early! Then I noticed the counsellor wore a heavy ring around one finger; on closer inspection I saw a word engraved on it: it read Thalidomide. She suddenly put a book in my lap and said I could borrow it. I replied ‘Thanks, I love reading.’ I can’t remember what the book was about. She told me that I could think about whether to go back. I replied that I probably would. With a burst of inexplicable joy she presented me with more gifts. I flicked through, recognised and ackowledged them in the following order:
A book (again, no idea of content)
A picture of a cat
A picture of a pig
A picture of an elephant.
I thanked her and prepared to leave. There was a brief scatter of conversation at the door when I mentioned my son and she replied ‘the kid’ before reminding me my time was up. I tried to open the door but this was partially blocked by a large fire extinguisher. Finally I got out and began walking down the main road. The dream continues for a bit longer but the rest doesn’t feel as relevant, at least here.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the counsellor being a Thalidomide victim that most drew my attention to the dream. I could not make out why I would dream about that. I know little about the medical disaster that bears its name apart from bits my mother mentioned since the babies were born not long before she had my half brother (who thankfully was not a victim). For anyone who doesn’t know, Thalidomide was a drug commonly available (I believe over the counter) to pregnant woman in the late 1950s and early 1960s for treating morning sickness. Needless to say, the drug had not been tested for this purpose and the sad consequence was that many babies of mothers who took it were born deformed, most often without arms or legs, but eye deformity, blindness and deafness also resulted in some cases. I am not sure whether this also occurred in the US in addition to the UK.
I have had a terrible headache over the last few days which has bordered on migraine and made me feel extremely sick. Yesterday I forced myself to get down the chemist for migraleve, a reasonably effective medication for migraines that contains coedine. Although I have taken it lots of times I was struck by a strange interest in the ingredients and side effects which I spent some time reading about. I suspect this is at least partly why my subconscious latched onto Thalidomide but the real reason is, I think, much more symbolic.
At the end of last week I went to see a counsellor for the first time in a number of months. My decision to go was based on all the difficulties that both me as an individual, and as a family, are facing right now; not being able to see my son, my dad’s terminal cancer, my mother’s cancer, another family member’s cancer, and decisions to be made around another child in the family that involve local authorities. In short, it is quite overwhelming.
So I went..
I talked and talked but all I felt was emptiness. It did not feel the way it did when I used to go to counselling regularly. Back then I really enjoyed going; I loved the relationship we had, being able to talk about what was on my mind and being heard, coming away with a renewed sense of mattering and being able to cope. Even the painful sessions felt good in their own way because they got me to where I needed to be.
So what was so different this time? I know it was not the counsellor although I did wish she would say more at times rather than just listen (previous counsellors had been more proactive) but it was not the first time I had seen her, so I knew our work together had been helpful once. No, I come to the conclusion that I simply didn’t need to go anymore. Talking about the pain and struggle, which had been so helpful once, merely reinforced them in my mind, even reinforced an identity based on them. I did not need practical tools to manage the pain, nor did I need someone to listen to it and make it real in my mind. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing those things; I did for many years, but now I realize that there has come a time to fully trust in the spiritual path. I have already been doing this but in a moment of doubt I thought to myself ‘There’s so much going on…I MUST need to talk to someone. I MUST need help…surely?’
I believe the emptiness I felt during my recent counselling session was my heart telling me I was in the wrong place. Yes my life hurts, I have moments of tears, I feel sick when I think about my precious son, I wish things could be different. But the answer does not lie in counselling anymore. There is nothing another human can give me that I cannot give myself. Ultimately, the answer lies in my spiritual truth, in letting go and living in the moment, trusting in the flow of life, having faith in God/Spirit/my Higher self, not in earthly matters. It does not mean earthly matters don’t hurt, but that the hurt doesn’t become who I am.
So what about the dream? To me, this simply reinforced my realisation that I have to rely on my inner strength and spiritual faith to sustain me. Going back to Thalidomide, I believe it symbolises being self sufficient, not needing to reach out to a counsellor anymore. Arms mean communication, contact, reaching out for help. Of course, I am not alone in life (even though I feel it sometimes) and I can and do reach out to friends where necessary, but I simply do not need a counsellor’s help. The dream was, I think, a message from my inner counsellor or guide, even my higher self, to remind me of my self sufficiency and connection with the All as shown by the ring. Her advise to breathe in my belly is very apt considering there is a lot of tension in that area right now. She asks me to describe myself to demonstrate the all-important question; who am I? What is my earthly identity? What can I take that is helpful to me, and what do I leave?
The pictures of the cat, pig and horse are all important totems that symbolise intuition, inner strength, fertility (note link with Thalidomide – it needs to be used in the right way), power and wisdom. The library may indicate the aksara records as well as wisdom. The fire extinguisher shows that I am dealing with my emotions without letting them overwhelm me, even though they feel overwhelming sometimes. The counsellor finished the session early because I no longer need it; I am ready to move on. I mentioned my son at the door because he my strongest attachment to this earth. Maybe the counsellor said ‘kid’ as a symbol of the young goat; a large mountain to climb, hurdle to cross.
I feel so grateful to have experienced such a vivid and meaningful dream. It reinforces the fact I am growing in all areas of life and I can trust myself, not measure myself against what others may be doing or feeling.
I am away on a spiritual retreat this Friday-Sunday and I am looking forward to writing about that.