Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Diving Down a Ladder

I'm swimming with people who are as familiar to me as my closest friends, but are in fact known to me only through work. We are swimming in a pond in the high desert of Utah or Colorado. Red mud as dry as stone surrounds the base of the natural pool and the water is warm. The area is deserted and our cries of delight echo off canyon walls that surround our swimming hole. One of the women in the crowd enters an opening in a nearby cliff wall, and emerges from a cave one story up and perhaps 15 feet from the edge of the pond. Unfurling a brilliant royal shawl she yells, "We need more purple!" and prepares to dive from the cave into the pool.

Sensing danger I yell, "I can do a back flip!" And I do a back flip in the water, elegantly arcing my back and dipping my body back into the water. The force of my reverse dive is tremendous and I feel my self continue to sink towards the bottom of the pond. I keep sinking. And sinking. I start to panic. "Does this pool have no bottom? Oh my god what if I just keep going? Will I reverse course and begin to float back to the top before I run out of air?" I try to physically alter my path but the momentum of dive forces me to keep moving downward rather than upwards. I am frantic and try to soothe myself by saying, "No one has ever dived forever. You will eventually slow down. When you do you can get to the top. You will be fine."


This is the second anxiety dream I've had in the last week that involves a panicked response to diving into what is, unknown to me, a bottomless pool in a desert.  It is a beautifully transparent anxiety dream, so transparent that it delights me. It also takes place in a location I consider to be a peaceful and tranquil space, the high desert of the Western U.S. I love that my subconscious is thoughtful enough to transport my sleepy manifestations of stress to a place that soothes me, to a place that compels me to slow down. And, if that weren't enough, a part of my who is witnessing the panic has the presence to use words to help me calm down, to recognize my own power, and simply say "You will be fine."

This new dream is a sign of growth. My anxiety dreams USED to involve climbing up and down wooden ladders. Any kind of ladder. I remember a long ago dream about climbing rigging on the exterior surface of a submarine in the dark. There was another than involved racing back and forth across a hotel atrium and six story glass windows, and eventually climbing to the top of one and not being able to get down. I was often with strangers in strange places taking unexplainable actions - all fraught with fear of falling, fear of what I would find when I finished my steps down or trip up the ladder.


What do you dream of when your psyche needs to be rid of negative energy?


Meg said...

That is totally fascinating. You did a fantastic job of writing it up -- I could picture it in my head. Which was a little unsettling. :)

My anxiety dream from wayyyy back when I was little -- 4ish? -- to now involves moving from darkness to a dimly lit (as though the sun weren't up yet, or just went down, but without pretty colors... more of a fogrise or fogset) expanse of rocks. They're all sorts of sizes, some like baseballs and some like boulders.

I begin to hear someone talking to me, except it's a low tone, and slowed down to the point that I can't really make out the words. Sometimes there are more voices, sometimes just one. Then I see a figure in the distance that is very willowy -- not quite a person, but mostly, without any sort of gender or ethnicity I can gauge. It comes towards me, and I realize that it's the thing that is talking to me.

Now I can tell that the low voice is saying my name and asking me for help, but I don't know what I'm supposed to help with. Then the figure starts to try and pick up rocks from the ground. The rocks are too heavy, and the figure's hands fall off, and then its arms. Then it stares at me, still saying my name, except now instead of kind of a bland, blank expression, it looks terrified. Then I look down and my body is the same as the figure's, except my arms are bone-thin and frail. I try to pick up a rock and my arms snap.

Then I wake up.

So for almost 34 years, this one pops up a few times a year. Not sure exactly what it means, but it happens when I am confused or feeling some sort of dread about bad news on the horizon or just feeling insecure or panicky.

Clownface said...

I had one repetitive anxiety dream in childhood. Can you guess what this says about the home in which I grew up? (Or at least my subconscious response to the home in which I grew up?)

In my dream human sized Sesame Street monsters chased me endlessly around the base of the neighbor's house while roofing shingles rained down upon us.