Picture it: A human being, waking up to her own life. There would be much rubbing-of-sleep from eyes, and many moments of caffeinated affection (chocolate, anyone?). Perhaps there would be stretching, and the kind of indelicate yawns done when one is assured that there are no cameras or phones in the vicinity. Then, at the end, with much yowling and knocking-of-things-off-shelves, comes the life-shaking realization that the cats really want to be fed.
In some ways, I feel like this person, even though my cats’ stomachs are currently full. (They would like to be fed again, though; half an hour has gone by since breakfast.) As the new year gets underway, inching its taproot deep into the ground, and as we feed cat after endless cat, I am waking up again to my dreams.
It’s ironic to think of waking up to something that is commonly experienced during REM sleep, but there’s the English language for you: charmingly inconsistent, possibly deranged, but lovable, not unlike us public library users.
Now, this next bit is for trauma survivors. If you are not a trauma survivor, don’t read it. (But if you are alive as you read this, and I do hope you are, you’ve survived your share of inner zombie apocalypses, so go right ahead.)
There is something about a trauma – the loss of a loved one, a car accident, the death of an animal, even just hearing heartbreaking news, and more, much more – that causes us to let go of our creative dreams. It is as though dreams were held in place by follicles. After trauma, the follicles retract in fear, letting our dreams fall out and shed all over our Aubusson rugs.
Not that this accounts for the thick frosting of cat fur on my carpets. Perhaps nothing does.
I’ve experienced my fair share of the Big T in both childhood and adulthood, so much that a dear friend said recently, “It’s a wonder you lived through it.” I just laughed, but it set my noodle’s motor running, and I started to think.
Nowadays, my life is beautiful – I can say that with all honesty, with a deep, felt-in-my-muscles-and-bones gratitude for the beauty and love and curiosities that surround me (even though I still dance the odd pas de deux with my roommates, anxiety and depression). It’s taken a lot of work to reach this place of acceptance and appreciation. It’s taken a lot of love and caring from several key people – animals and non-animals alike – to help me find my sense of true safety.
But late last summer, I was once more plunged into the high-powered Vitamix of fear after an incident, which shall remain nameless, that reawakened decades-old trauma.
I’ve mentioned this incident, sans detail, in former blog posts. The content of the trauma, in the big scheme of things (and I do like scheming), doesn’t matter. But the result was a stomach-lurching case of insomnia-laced PTSD — followed by vast quantities of healing. I’m not fully back yet, but I’m ninety-percent there, and climbing.
I have shmeditated (which is meditation with a cat on your lap, generally an orange one; cat, that is, not lap). I’ve done deep work in body-based emotional awareness (often still with cat-on-lap, purring preferred). I’ve sought therapy with an entirely incompetent therapist (note: un-recommended). And, with support and laughter from beloved friends (R, S, J, D & W: I’m looking at you), not to mention the (occasionally) peaceful presence of the cats and dogs, minus twelve million episodes of interspecies woofing, I’ve whispered my dream-holding follicles awake and stopped shedding all over my imported carpets.
So to speak.
These, then, are my dreams:
- To write personal essays that might, now and then, cause just one brain cell in one reader to laugh, or at least give a compassionate snort.
- To publish said pieces in professional markets, which may just mean my wobbly little blog. (A good motto: “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!”)
- To collect the aforementioned essays into very, very, very good books (or very, very, very terrible books, depending on your point of view, but if that’s the case you might want to point your view elsewhere, sweetheart).
- To ramp up my art-making (using my as-of-yet unrevealed new painting mediums) as well as my art-sharing here on Harmony with Animals and elsewhere. I’m starting today, with this post. And I have many more paintings which will soon see the light of the Internet (and the light of your eyes, I hope).
- To sell my art (which I accidentally typed as “sell my heart”; good thing I’m not Freudian). Two days ago, I had my first nibble for my first-ever art sale, the thought of which is knocking every single sock I’ve ever worn off my feet. More on that soon.
These dreams may not seem that big. But they are. They are.
Sometimes, I cast my gaze like a searchlight through the dark corners of my life. When I’m in the right mood, which is increasingly often, all that’s revealed is beauty – plus a few dust bunnies, fed by copious cat fur, and the occasional corgi nosing near the baseboards for crumbs.
When I’m in the wrong mood, though, you probably don’t want to hang around. Good thing that’s rare.
These days, I am waking up more and more. More and more the searchlight finds not just the storied past, but possibilities: dreams and (dare I say it?) goals, a word to which I was violently allergic in the past, but now can tolerate in very small doses.
If you’re waking up to your own dreams, too, let’s rub the sleep out of our eyes together. Tell me your vision, and I’ll tell you mine. I’ll buy you a drink (hot cocoa, anyone?) and we’ll pass the long, slow morning together, spreading the beauties of our futures like cards on the table before us.
These cards will be sat upon by cats, guaranteed.