July 13, 2007

Gratuitous Self-Analysis Posting

I had quite a vivid dream about my father last night. In it, I was scheduled to go to some kind of military training camp and was supposed to travel there by train. The train station was just across the street from my house. As I heard the whistle of the train approaching the station, I suddenly remembered that I hadn't packed yet and began pulling clothes out of my chest of drawers. However, I quickly realized that there was no chance of getting everything together and getting to the station before the train pulled out. After a brief moment of panic, I got hold of myself and said, "Well, why not just drive to the camp? I can get there faster, in fact, and I'll have my car with me. So it all works out for the best."

Meanwhile, Dad somehow appeared in the room. He saw that I wasn't packed and had missed the train, and immediately flew into a temper, shouting things like, "You screwed up! Jaysus, what in da Christ is the matter with you?" I, in turn, started shouting back at him that if he'd only shut up for a moment he'd see that everything was fine, that it was taken care of and that there was no problem after all. He didn't stop to listen, but kept on yelling, as did I.

I woke up still shouting.

Ah, my thrifty Scots subconscious - serving up issues in a bleeding obvious way so that I don't have to waste money on a shrink! Hoots! Toots!

Anyhoo, I write about this in part because it's the first dream I've had about Dad since he died and in part because it has only recently occurred to me how wearing his death has been, how drained of energy I've felt most of this year. As I've mentioned before - and as my dream pretty well illustrates - I was never close with the man, so I didn't have that big cathartic emotional release when he died. Instead, it's been a long, slow bleed. And, despite the warnings that plenty of people gave me, I've frankly been surprised at how much his death has affected me. I suppose this is one of those things, like having kids, that you can't really understand until you've been through it yourself.

I've also begun to better appreciate how all this has affected other parts of my life. In effect, I've circled the wagons, crouching into a protective huddle, cutting corners, getting by with the minimum and just trying to conserve my resources. This is why, for example, I haven't been much involved in the ongoing Episcopal civil war of late, much to the dismay of some of my co-parishioners. I must say that it's also fortunate that I'm in government practice at the moment, as I have not had to deal with a frenetic workload. And it's certainly had an effect on my blogging, keeping me skating along on the surface and not getting myself too committed about anything, either intellectually or emotionally. (My apologies if this annoys you.) I've not been especially satisfied with myself about this withdrawal, but on the other hand part of me also says that I should cut myself some slack. I suspect my dream ties into that conflict, as well as to the long-standing problems with Dad.

I assume that all of this is perfectly normal and that it will eventually go away. Indeed the fact that I've realized what is happening and am beginning to get somewhat impatient with myself about it suggests that the period of this, what, mourning funk? memoriam drift? is coming to an end. I'll be going on vacation in a few weeks' time and have begun to think of that as the marker, the point after which I can come back more fully into the world, refreshed and renewed.

(Doctor: Now vee may perhaps to begin, yes?)

Posted by Robert at July 13, 2007 09:21 AM | TrackBack

Dear Robbo,

I don't put too much emphasis on dreams. Since you summer where you do, you might not want to too or else you'll soon be sunbathing in the pink, so to speak. That is the fate of those who in Maine take dreams too seriously.

As for not being involved too much in the civil war, ask yourself, would more of your involvement have made any difference? My guess is no.

Your dad's death sounded like a most trying experience for the best of men. And you do sound like you are of the best sort except for that indication of the inner workings of Playboy you once mentioned... You also have sounded tired since about Januaury. You need a break. I hope you have some good solid rest in Maine. Oh, and I strongly advise avoiding my family...

Warmest Regards,

Mrs. P

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at July 13, 2007 12:49 PM

I had one similar to this about a year after my
Dad died -- he was yelling at me about something, and I remembered, in the dream, that he was dead -- so I reminded him of this. He nodded and said "Fair enough" or words to that effect. Never had a confrontational dream with him since -- though God knows I could have used a few, in retrospect. It was, for me, pretty much a "closure" dream; though I'm a believer that closure is greatly overvalued.

Posted by: The Colossus at July 13, 2007 02:05 PM

I still dream about my parent's deaths, waking and asleep. I'm not sure when you are supposed to get over it.
It is just one of those things about being human that you have to come to terms with. Oh, to be young and everyone with authority is still alive. You might not have wanted their input at the time but, believe you me, it was a lot easier to deal with in reality than it has been in dreams.
I truly feel sorry for you Robbo. My advice is to chase the wisps away and concentrate on your girls. They are bounded by reality. They are real...

Posted by: Babs at July 13, 2007 02:14 PM

My Dad had awful parents. They abused him pretty bad growing up. His father passed away in 2001 and was a rotten bastard to his dying day. His Mother is still alive and kicking. Shes also a mean ole hag. He is still dealing with residual effects of that(he's 68). He was never abusive or anything to myself, sister or Mom growing up. He does get a little weird. Seeing where he came from, I'm not surprised. Long story short, you'll probably have residual effects of strained relationships with your Dad for the rest of your life. Stuff of this sort is not easy to shake.

Thats my half-assed, meandering advice for the day. I'd probably ignore it if I were you.

Posted by: A Stupid Pirate fan at July 14, 2007 02:18 AM

Thankee, all. Don't let me give you the impression that Dad was abusive. He was certainly a very difficult person to live with, but in his own way, he genuinely meant well. However, owing to an inherited cussedness known as the McDill Taint and the fact that he was allowed to run to seed by his own incompetent parents, he just never learned how to channel those good intentions properly, at least as far as direct interpersonal contact went.

Mrs. P - fear not for the burning of the Llama hide. Our porch faces east-southeast with Ram directly ahead and Ragged on the starboard bow. There in the afternoon, with the sea-breeze coming in and the shade of the house from behind, is where I do most of my dreaming, interrupted on occassion by the sounds of the Llama-ettes holloaing each other at Cedar Beach on the other side of the gut between our islands.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at July 14, 2007 11:44 AM