I’ve been dreaming of beasts for years.
Symbol of Anger
Early this morning I had a dream that wolves were in my neighborhood. I was out and about and hoping that they didn’t notice me. I was anxious.
Of course they did though. Once they had, they started following me and my anxiety creeped up a few notches. I tried to go hide in buildings and other structures to avoid them but of course everywhere I went, they were there too.
Finally I made it to my car, only to look out the driver’s side window to see one of their faces pressed up against it, looking at me. I was petrified at this point and thought of pushing the button that locks the doors, but didn’t just in case they were already locked and I pushed the wrong one and allowed them in. I didn’t have full motor control, that’s how anxious I was.
I woke up and wrote it down in my dream journal, where there are literally hundreds more like it. It’s not always wolves though, usually it’s lions or other big cats, vicious dogs or angry, intimidating looking bison with horns.
Every single one of those dreams is a carbon copy of each other. These beasts represent my anger and I’m always running away from it.
The dreams are messages from my subconscious telling me that I have dis-owned a part of myself and that I need to pay attention. It’s telling me that I need to reintegrate this part of me that I am cut off from – my shadow.
*** Shadow work is really a cool sounding way to describe the process of getting in touch with parts of yourself that you cut yourself off from. In our culture oftentimes it’s anger, but it could be sexuality, vulnerability or any other emotion that we have dis-owned.
According to many therapists what I’m supposed to do in that dream is to sit there and let the beasts come and rip me to shreds. So far after years and years of these dreams, I haven’t been able to do that. Too scared in the dreams. The symbolism of the wolves tearing me to pieces represents the old me being destroyed.
If I can let that happen then the new me will be much stronger because I’ll be whole, and so no longer fragmented.
Like it or not my anger is a part of me and the more I shut it down the more it hurts me. It hurts me physically in the form of continuous muscle tension, headaches, stress etc. It hurts me emotionally as I feel inadequate without it, and it hurts me socially as it’s hard to get my needs met, to be assertive, without my anger.
Of course as many of you following this blog know, I shut my anger down at a very young age as a coping mechanism, or survival strategy, in the presence of a very angry father.
I’m used to being that way and so it’s challenging for me in a couple of different ways to try to get my anger back, or more accurately to allow it to be part of me again.
One is because I’ve been so unaware of my anger my whole life that I have to consistently make an effort to check in with myself just to get in touch with it. Like I said it’s not a natural part of me like it is for some people. Some people walk around with their anger like a muscled guy on the beach and are not even aware they do so, it’s that natural for them.
I remember many years back saying to myself that I wasn’t an angry guy. That I never really experienced anger and that there was no reason for anybody else to be angry with me because I’m not hostile or pushy etc. and so I won’t instigate anything. I felt superior to others because of this. Of course that’s incredibly silly. At the time I couldn’t see that I was merely out of touch with my own anger and then judging people for theirs.
It’s easy to see others, not so easy to see ourselves. I remember having some female friends who grew up in religious households claiming so adamantly that they weren’t sexual beings, and had little to no interest in sex. I remember thinking, “I can definitely see that they do. In their small gestures and body language etc. Can’t they see how they are fooling themselves? How ridiculous!”
All the while here I was doing the exact same thing but with a different emotion.
Two, I was afraid of anger. My first experiences of anger were through my father (and mother to some degree) and I created the belief that anger was bad due to how much that emotion scared me. That’s why I said above that I felt better than others for not being an angry person, because anger hurt people and was dangerous.
Anger is neither good or bad. Like everything else in life it’s what you do with it. One thing I’ve learned now is that I need my anger, and that it’s unhealthy to not have it.
I’m trying although it hasn’t been easy. First I have to become aware of something that I never really knew was a part of me, and second I’m scared to death of it. Talk about obstacles being in your way.
All I know is that I need the wolves to come and get me. The old me needs to die.
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