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At 3:45 A.M. I awoke with this curious dream, with its lesson for today:

During my absence from home, Martha had hung a paint-by-numbers scene of a wooded area, its colors garish and bleeding, over a mural in my living room. I’m shocked, then angered even more when I discover the gaping hole she’d made for the nail, the plaster on the floor.

 During my absence from home suggests gaps in my attention span, my not being fully present to the inner workings of my thoughts, motives, and choices in my psyche— Relapsing into denial, rationalization, and idealization, or even worse, dissociation from my body. With increasing fatigue, all the more important for me to take more timeouts for rest. Happily, my REM sleep deepens the quality of my sleep and provides multiple dreams that cue me through this process of diminishing health.

Martha, the extroverted shadow of my sister, suggests the need to balance out my limited energies, especially saying “No.” to others when too exhausted to speak; not to force myself, even when wearing oxygen. The hospice nurse has told me that ILD will eventually harden my lungs, cutting off speech altogether, a process already underway, albeit slowly.

hung a paint-by-numbers scene of a wooded area suggests unwanted people, places, things no longer conducive to this last phase of my individuation. That Martha caught me unawares mandates my willingness to become more vigilant, more discerning.

I’m shocked, then angered speaks of feelings that can easily plunge me into self-pity, even more poison for my psyche, which whacks conscious contact with HP into smithereens—An intolerable situation.

So this morning’s dream calls for more discipline to remain fully conscious with the help of CPA’s Twelve Steps and the spiritual fellowship. To this, I remain committed, despite slips.

 

 

“Hi Liz! So glad we’re meeting this morning. Do come in.” So welcomed Ellen Sheire standing in her doorway, her brown eyes shimmering with light, her amber bangles and earrings complementing her shirtwaist dress. It was March 1988, a humid morning that would launch decades of dream analysis with my new helper, a Jungian-trained analyst. I had nowhere else to go, racked, as I was, by terrifying dreams imaging physical and psychic disorders.

Denial screened the enormity of this undertaking: the complete gut job of my psyche, given its mishmash of others’ values ill-suited to my individuation. With no sense of who I was, with no voice, I was slowly dying.

What was obvious to Ellen those first weeks of dream analysis was my disease of alcoholism. However, denial thwarted entering12-Step recovery and the brownstone across the street until 1991. There, I learned about letting go and letting God, a process that continues into the present.

Interesting that Ellen never sought to fix me, rather midwifed me toward the God-given riches buried within my unconscious. Her tactics were simple: recommended Jungian authors who amplified the elucidation of my dreams each week; travel with Jungian study groups to Sacred sites of the Feminine in western Europe; active imagination with spirit guide Michael for, ten years; memoir writing, once retired; and monthly meetings of the local C. J. Jung Society. Thirty-three loose-leaf binders evidenced the fruitfulness of our relationship.

A woman of selfless joy, Ellen Sheire drew me to her study those Friday mornings from which I emerged with renewed hope, even laughter, to continue this arduous work. My gratitude is boundless.

From this vantage point, I’m deeply content to return this gift of life, with her finger prints, to Creator-God, whenever, however…

 

 

Chronic Pain Anonymous reminds me that the God of my understanding hides out within the 12 Steps. Practicing them, one day at a time, brings me into communion with Him, directs my thinking and choices, provides a remedy when I mess up, and empowers me to carry the message of unconditional love to others. Therein, alone, I find happiness, not in people, places, or things.

May you find such a practice in 2020 and let it change your life! It’s about staying awake and serving others. The joy just comes …

 

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