A couple nights ago, I stumbled upon an unfinished, fragmented, “freewriting” style journal entry I’d begun more than half a decade ago, but never got around to wrapping up, perhaps because I didn’t know where it was going at the time. Though I hadn’t gone looking for it, the timing of finding it now is serendipitous... here, at the turning of the years, at the changing of a decade, at the ringing in of the new “20s,” as we all consider the passage of time, and compare the reality of our today to the hopes and dreams of our yesterdays, against the prospects of our tomorrow. It was in this mindset, I came across a crude, rushed synopsis of a brief introspection into my own subliminal coping mechanisms.
Writing can create a kind of time capsule — after a period of separation, it can help to put the past into perspective. And, sometimes, the opposite can be true, as well. A pinpointed focus on one moment — a snapshot of your emotional state, for example, frozen in time on a slide, under a microscope — could potentially allow the past to help put the rest of your life into a different perspective. This is one such case. I’ll lay a little background before sharing this particular excavated relic — a fossilized treasure from mid-summer just over five years ago, with an unpredicted poignancy compared to the unfolding of life since then.
In August of 2014, at the end of a fulfilled contract, I was looking for work between projects, but also exploring other options. I’d become weary of the constant shilling to continue earning a respectable income compelled by the nature of this career track. In truth, I’d tired of it long before then, but hadn’t been able to escape it by that point. In fact, I still haven’t, but I’m working on it, and haven’t given up yet.
That June, though, I’d attended my eldest brother’s second wedding, followed by my eldest nephew’s first wedding, just two months later. At certain ages, for some, weddings can have side effects. Evaluating life partners. Internalizing life choices. Considering alternatives.
I had not known at the time of the former that my then-housemate (now husband) had secretly pulled aside my brother — the only living male who shares my DNA — to ask for his blessing over my Minion’s proposal plans. (With which he wouldn’t follow through for another six months — I don’t suspect he had planned out the mangled oatmeal pancake approach at that point, but, hey, whatever works, right?) I may have had some intuition into the changing winds blowing a redirect to the course of my walk of life, though... perhaps it was that instinct driving my need to find a stable source of gainful employment — one suitable for a more “settled” way of life than I had been living previously.
I was at the precipice of launching a small business — a project that would ultimately be tabled due to extraneous obstacles. At the time, though, it seemed a better alternative to the constant rub on the gumshoe of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in search of the next gig, sometimes having to settle for whatever was on the other side of whichever door opened when most remained shut. At the very least, the unknown path of the road less traveled was something different than I’d always done, and worth a shot.
Two years previously, I had been released from a long-term business partnership and corresponding cohabitation — a retrospectively fortuitous turn of events I came to appreciate as an escape from the gaslighting abuse of a manipulative control freak with a severe case of NPD. It had taken about that length of time for the ice prison I’d been frozen in while living with his boot on the back of my neck to thaw out enough for allowing my natural wings to begin slowly unfurling. I was becoming myself again. And people noticed.
Throughout that extended period of confinement, during which I had been methodically isolated from friends, family, and any external source of social support or financial resources, I had often likened my situation to that of a frog in boiling water, as I saw these changes deflect where I had been going in life at the onset of that doomed alliance to where I was restricted to move about within its parameters. I’m not sure, though, how well I had picked up on the changes in myself once I’d been removed from that circumstance. From my perspective, I had always remained the same me in my own head. I just couldn’t always be myself on the outside. That, in and of itself, was its own kind of mental prison.
In the home I shared with Minion, though, I no longer had to carefully calculate the vocalization of every thought or second-guess the initiation of every action to determine whether it would appropriately fit into the “dynamic” of my living situation. For me, internally, it was just a matter of flipping that switch off. Though some patterns had become habits it took a while to “unlearn.”
The significance of symbolism can be an important tool in how you see yourself. Maybe I was like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. But, then again, on the other hand, just maybe... I was a dormant alligator, breaking free from a long winter’s nap in the hibernaculum of a frigid lake, and ready to dominate the top of the food chain once more. The following inner workings summary from a 65-month younger version of me is a timely reminder of what the symbolism of your lizard brain can do for you.
I had a conjoined streak of peculiar REM visions early this morning. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, and there’s a fair bit of disorienting discombobulation, as one would expect, what with how dream sequences tend to be, especially as these transition one to another, overlapping into each other.
But they started out like this...
First, I had a dream about an apparent zombie apocalypse. I was working within a collective of people who had been preparing for it for some time, and it was finally upon us... here, live, and coming, very soon, around the corner... maybe in another state or something. But I was connected to a community, some of whom were some sort of chosen family to me, and others were there in some sort of more “official” capacity... none of that was too specifically defined in my dream... I just understood and accepted it in such a way that made it irrelevant to the story.
I know there was some sort of issue with money... actual cash money had been changing hands, which was ostensibly problematic at that point in the de-evolution of socio-economic structure, for some reason. The group representing authority were frustrated to learn we still had some cash money, that we hadn’t just put it all in non-cash form, and spent it for supplies and materials, because now it was contaminated, they didn’t want to touch it, and it was about to become useless. They left it with me, and left me alone to defend the area I was responsible for... it seemed to be some sort of bar or something. (I was to dispose of the cash somehow... I’m sure I had a general comprehension of my expectations in that regard while in the dream, but the clarity of that point is lost on me now.)
I went off by myself to my assigned section, leaving behind the communally composed family to defend the spaces they’d been assigned to. We all had our parts to play. I barricaded the area around me with tipped over chairs, armed myself with a double barreled shotgun and a couple of fire axes, and then just had to wait. It would seem I then determined it was prudent to devote some considerable time to figuring out what I was going to wear to spend the rest of eternity as a zombie. In the end, I decided on an ironic T-shirt:
“Zombie 5-K run.”
I figured it would work either way.
And then, weirdly, I woke up. Only... I didn’t. I woke up in my dream, from the first dream, while still dreaming, but now in another dream. :-/
In this new dream, I was driving (wondering if should I be alarmed that in my dream, it seems I may have been asleep at the wheel?) and telling someone I used to be close to (who is now removed from my life) about the dream. It was raining out, and there were lots of puddles. In the dream where I was telling her about the zombie dream, I had more to tell her than actually happened in the first dream when I had originally dreamed it... like more had happened that my dream-within-a-dream didn’t show me, but that my other dream had actually dreamed. (Okay to insert raised eyebrow/wtf face here.)
According to the storytelling part of the second dream, as I recounted events, in the zombie apocalypse scenario, I had actually moved past that moment in the bar, barricaded by bar furniture, and I had survived not just that battle, but several others. I had become a zombie apocalypse survivor, all while wearing the Zombie 5K run shirt, which had become very bloody. In my retelling, it was like I was simultaneously having more of the zombie apocalypse dream, because I could see it in my head as I was retelling it. (Yes, it was a very “Inception” sort of a moment, which is weird, considering I really hadn’t enjoyed that movie.)
The hard rain coming down as I was driving had formed a number of huge puddles in the rather large potholes in the road. Several other drivers had become hung up in these, and I had to swerve pretty wildly to avoid multiple multi-car crashes. The person I was telling about the zombie dream (a former best friend) held her breath to keep from screaming while clutching the door handle white-knuckled. But, with some fancy evasive maneuvering, I managed to get us away unscathed while narrowly missing several collisions.
We made it through that crazy gauntlet, and arrived at... get this... the mall. She was kind of uncomfortable being there with me. (I didn’t press on this issue, as I gathered this was also something just accepted by my dream state self without overt elaboration — I guess dreams depend on you suspending disbelief and not asking too many questions?) I tried to reassure her things were okay, but at that point, I had performed the mission to drop her off there (was I an agent? some sort of taxi service? I just don’t know), so we were then going our separate ways naturally.
As I had some time to kill, I wandered through the mall, which had an outdoor cobblestone corridor, sorta like Nicollet, but more like Boston. In fact, come to think of it, I think this whole thing may have happened in Boston... everything about it had the look and feel of New England. (I spent a summer there when I was in grade school... loved it. Took a puerile internet test once to find out, “What city are you most like?” and came out Boston — so Boston is purportedly a municipality representative of my personality, if one were to put stock in such things — I don’t, but maybe I do in my dreams?)
So here’s me, strolling the cobblestone sidewalk, with a variety of dips and crannies also filling with rain drops, but I’m nimbly stepping around and between them, which is surprising, considering I’m on my cell phone, sending a text (I suppose it must have been important, because it’s not like me to do that in public — though I seem to recall it had something to do with completing my “mission?”), when I am abruptly jolted by a body collision with this incredibly good looking curly headed blonde guy who’s dressed in jeans with a faded military jacket and black T-shirt. In the process of stumbling all over him, we press together rather intimately, more or less hugging each other. I fumble back, apologizing profusely, and he gets this weirdly twisted, slightly sinister smile on his face, mumbling something about buying me a coffee to get to know me first.
I appreciate the attempt to diffuse an awkward moment with humor, and give him an acknowledging smile, taking a beat to size up if this is a random accidental encounter, or a purposeful introduction. As I’m racking my brain to remember whether I’ve missed a coded exchange, he grabs my elbow and directs me to a narrow inlet into the mall interior... a kind of back alley to the “behind the scenes” area for the shops. There’s a good deal of hustle and bustle all around, so I wouldn’t be able to hear him very well, even if he were saying anything. But he’s not... he’s intently focused, and very obviously searching for something.
There is a show going on inside the mall... it’s a festival day in the city... some sort of celebration happening — not quite a holiday, more like a hullabaloo specific to the locality, but the whole place makes a big deal about it, and there are a lot of circus type acts in the backstage area preparing their performances. This guy is moving us both past all of them, and I come to the realization he’s trying to find a quiet, out-of-the way nook apart from eyes and noise. Instinctively, I know he’s planning to rape me.
The freaky part is, I continued to go along with him for another minute after that — almost like I’m preparing myself for the consequences — mentally going over my options, how I’m going to respond and what I’m going to do. Then the part of my brain that remembers I’m ME, not some character in a story, yanks my elbow away from his grip and turns the other direction, walking away from him at a good clip. I head directly for as big a crowd as I can get into, surrounding myself with strangers, to slip back into the throng. (This was one of those moments where a part of my subconscious came to life and just took the wheel, with an assertive NOPE! THIS is NOT happening now — since, otherwise, I was about to be raped in my dream.*)
*I can’t explain how I do this, but ever since I suffered the second traumatic brain injury, one of the perks is, I no longer have nightmares — if a dream becomes intense enough, my brain will either completely alter the storyline to get me out of a sticky situation, or simply end it by waking me up. As seen with this dream series, obviously, I have multiple levels of subconscious, and I am more in control in some than in others. I was initially a passenger going along for the ride in this third dream, until the heat turned up enough some part of me decided to say, “*#>@%* that noise!” and took charge.
So the handsome blonde predator spins on his heel and bolts after me, catching up and grabbing my elbow again, hissing in my ear, “WHAT do you think you’re DOING?” I jerked away from him again quickly and emphatically, with a large, sweeping, rather publicly demonstrative motion. I squared my shoulders, set my jaw, put on my most powerful pissed off bitch-from-hell voice, and barked at him.
“DUDE!” I bellowed like a drill-instructor, loud enough to call attention. Dozens of heads turned toward the sound.
“You really think I’m just going to let you lead me away like a sheep to slaughter?? That I’m just going to go along with you to some back alley corner so you can RAPE me?! Out of some sense of social obligation? Or what, FEAR?”
My neck darted side to side like a standing cobra poised to attack, jerking with every incredulous presumption. Dude’s face twisted up in bewildered surprise. His neck grew two inches upward as he tried to make sense of the sudden transition in his prey.
“Well, I’m sorry you happened to catch me looking down when you met me, but if you think I go through life like that, you’ve got another think coming, man. Just because I’m a chubby chick doesn’t mean I’m a shy wilting wallflower with no self-esteem! And as for fear, you may not have noticed, *@$$#073*, but I’m BIGGER THAN YOU.”
I clocked the darting of his head as he made a quick body assessment. If I was more malignant by nature, I’d have taken advantage of the momentary lapse to issue a swift kick to his nethers. But I trust the blustery of belligerent posturing more than my reflexes against his, so I continued.
“You may eventually get the better of me, just because you have more testosterone. But I wouldn’t even guarantee that. If you’re willing to roll the dice and take that gamble, though, I’m going to make sure you not only feel it, but regret your choices.”
Effusively, I cracked my knuckles out in front of me, shaking my fingers out, and rocking on the balls of my feet to limber up my muscles and show my action readiness. By then, enough people had raised their heads from what they were doing to pay more attention to us that he started to back away.
I was causing quite a scene. Noting his demeanor reversal, I started coming after him. At that point he was looking like a deer in highlights, desperate for a clean getaway. I began poking him hard in the chest with my finger as I spoke, pushing him a step back further with each jab.
“Yeah, dude, that sensation you’re feeling right now? That’s your fight-or-flight impulse kicking in. It’s your instinct telling you to make a choice which one you are. You thought you had mine figured out, but you had me pegged wrong, bro. I’m a fighter — all the way to my dying breath. If that’s today, then so be it, and bring it on. You want a fight? You got one, pal. You sure you’re ready for this?”
When he looked like was about to turn and run, I pushed him down, and he fell hard on his ass in a puddle in the alley, rain drizzling down on him, leaving his curly blonde hair dripping in dark tendrils around his face, his pretty mug showing panic. People from the crowd had enclosed in a circle around us... he couldn’t have escaped by then if he wanted to. Without lifting my glare, I gestured to the amassing mob and taunted.
“Oh yeah... I bet you don’t want them to hear this, do you? Well then, did you ever pick the wrong chick, bud, cause it doesn’t matter how far away you take me... have you noticed this set of lungs? You have your weapons... I have mine. If you push yours, you’re going to find out just what I can do with mine.”
He started crawling backwards away from me on his feet and palms. Skittering like a cockroach, he nearly tripped several people behind him before he had to stop because no one was moving. I stepped into the empty space, closing the distance between us.
“You know what the really sad part is? You’re actually pretty damn good looking. You even give off an air like you might be kinda smart, on some level, though this certainly wasn’t your most brilliant move. And I bet if you gave yourself half a chance, you’d probably be semi-interesting, too. I cannot imagine why you think you’re so pathetic you’d have to resort to raping a stranger.”
His mouth was open, his chest heaving. I wondered if he would hyperventilate. He was clearly no longer a threat to me, but I wasn’t done. He was still a menace.
“The real kicker is, if you’d only bothered to ask my name, and talked to me like a decent human for a few minutes, I’m sure I’d have fucked you. I wouldn’t have even waited. I’d have gotten to that quiet spot you wanted, and we’d have done it right here, in this swarming bazaar. I’d have found that incredibly hot.”
As I said this I stepped over his legs, standing across his body. Straddling his torso and looking down on him, I licked my lips and gyrated my hips, rubbing my curves seductively. His head twitched. His expression showed he had no idea what to expect next. I chuckled.
“I would have been the best piece of ass you ever had, pal. I’d have done things you’ve only read about in porn mags. But I bet you don’t even have a condom on you.”
For a moment he looked like he thought it was over, that I had softened, and I was going to let him off the hook. I wasn’t. My eyes blazed with a thousand fires.
“It’s not about sex, though, is it, jackass? I don’t know what terrible kind of *#>@%3&*-up *$#!&* happened in your life that convinced you to feel good about yourself you have to take power from someone else. But you won’t be taking it from me today. You want to know what it feels like to be in control?”
I squatted down over him and bent close to his face, my nose to his, my breath on his cheeks. I patted my chest. With pursed lips and clenched teeth, I whispered just loud enough for only him to hear.
“Look closely. Take a good long hard look. THIS is the face of self-control. This only comes out of loving yourself. There’s nothing in the world stronger than that. You could use a touch of this. And you should be grateful for it today. This self-control is what’s stopping me from kicking your ass right now. ’Cause I’m better than that.”
As I stood back up, I flexed my pecs, bouncing my giant rack in his face. Then I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a black and rainbow packaged prophylactic. I threw it on his chest. He flinched, and clutched it quickly, I couldn’t tell if from fear or out of shame. I didn’t care either way. I kept at him.
“Here... a souvenir for the next time you think you’ve got some gal figured out without bothering to know anything about her. Just a reminder of the time you were so far off it almost cost you your manhood. ’Cause don’t think for a moment however this played out, I’d have let you get away clean. If I’d have taken a trip to the morgue today, I’d have gone with a smile on my face and your shredded balls in my bloody fingers, you imbecilic, pantywaisted invertebrate.”
Then I hacked a loogie and spat on him. A handful of people laughed, and several clapped and cheered. As he reached to wipe his face, I stepped past his head, moving into the crowd, which parted like the red sea to release me, then swirled back into my wake. I didn’t calculate on them doing anything to him, but several of them had his face on Instagram by then, so he wasn’t going anywhere unnoticed. As I left the scene with my head held high, I looked up and closed my eyes, lifting my hands to the sky, breathing in deep and soaking up the gentle mist of rain upon my face.
Just then the phone rang, and I talked with the woman who’d called me yesterday about setting up an interview tomorrow, and from that point I went about my day as I would any other in search mode on the hunt for a fresh hook. But maybe, this time, I felt more like a shark than a guppy. Apparently, my subconscious thinks I’m in need of being sent some pretty strongly worded, heavily ’tuded messages right now. It will be interesting to see how well I can figure out what to do with them.
Naturally, rationally thinking, awake-and-aware me recognizes how unrealistic all of this is on so many levels it’s not even worth delving into all of them. But dreams aren’t supposed to be plausible, they’re simply the psyche’s sandbox — a metaphysical playground with random thoughts and experiences for its toys, in a universe unconstrained by the limits of imagination for its tools with which to shape them. Even a lucid dreamer like myself isn’t making them up as we go along, but only merely holding onto the reins of an otherwise wildly careening carriage to keep from going over the edge.
Sometimes the messages you get out of dreams are nothing more than your own interpretations of your brain being a supernatural toddler while your body sleeps, which it does to keep itself active. Other times, it’s the deeper part of you that understands details about your situation better than your cognizant self does, reaching through to help you sort out daily puzzles or life problems your alert mind has been actively trying to solve. I know when I had this psychedelic triptych, I was feeling rundown, unsure of the future, trying to find strength to keep piloting the ship without losing hope, and longing for something different. My hindbrain stepped up then with a much needed pep-talk.
“Don’t let the bullies get you. You are stronger than you know. You got this, girl.”
I’m sure I’m not in as bleak a situation these days as I was then. Now I have so much more to be grateful for. But, even so, that’s a message I could stand to get most any day, and would be happy to arm myself with to face whatever life may have in store.
I know better than to challenge the next year or the next decade to “bring it.” I don’t want any trouble. I hope the universe will be kind to me and mine. But when the going gets tough, we pick up our double-barrelled shotguns and our fire axes, we keep our eyes on the road and our hands on the wheel, we grab our black-and-rainbow rubbers, remember to love ourselves, and learn to dance in the rain.
Happy 2020 to you and yours. May your twenties roar, and may you have all the tools you need to survive all they have in store. And may your dreams grow wings and take flight.
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 10 - Topic: OPEN
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