In the bedroom, my mother is trying to settle the baby. I am in the kitchen trying to clean up when a gust of wind, followed by a wall of water hits me. The floor around me is quickly filling up with this flood of elements and I push my way through to find the source: the sliding glass window on my third story balcony is bent and off the track, unwilling to close.
“Grab me duct tape,” I yell, but no one hears me, so I rush to find it, trying desperately to minimize the damage.
Duct tape is no match for the storm brewing outside. There is no way to fix this problem.
This dream has unsettled me. I can’t shake the image and the feeling of hopelessness. Too many responsibilities. Too many things in need of repair. How did everything get so out of control?
I know it is a dream, but the need for my inhaler coming out of it is real. I have been struggling for weeks, no months, to get my breathing stabilized, and it is weighing on me. I am the same age my father was when he was diagnosed with emphysema; is this to be my fate also?
I try to go back to sleep, but can’t shake the image and the feeling that there is no solution. This is the end, my dream self realizes. When I do slide back, the images are no different: my baby daughter drowning in a pool and no one reacting but me, and I am too late; trying to take a shortcut home through the woods, only to find it is a dead end, blocked by police who turn me around, then realizing I have lost everyone, including myself.
The dream is flooded with images from my life.
The setting is reminiscent of the apartment I rented after my first divorce. Marriage was to have been my salvation, but instead, here I was, more broken than before thrown back into the turmoil. Just released from the hospital, my sister Mai came to live with me. She was too fragile to live with my other sister, but the two were often present, adding to the chaos in my home.
The kitchen was how I defined myself at the time. I could cook – had cooked at home for the family – and I became the mother figure for all lost and single souls looking for a home cooked meal and a warm place to land. No one seemed to mind that my schizophrenic sister sat rocking endlessly in a chair in the corner, nor that my ailing (mentally as well as physically) older sister would drop in unexpectedly, bringing with her a constant storm of drama. Maybe it was dinner theater for those whose lives were comparatively tame.
The baby is my middle daughter, who traumatized by illness during pregnancy, struggled in the first years of her life, unable to sleep and constantly screaming in pain. For three years we dragged her from one specialist to the next desperately looking for an answer and eventually found one, but I remember the daily heart wrenching feeling of inadequacy as a mother who couldn’t meet her child’s needs.
The path into the woods was the one I took so many days as a child to find solace. Deep in the shelter of trees, there was peace and tranquility and it filled my soul many days and gave me the courage to carry on. The path is long gone and many have been lost in my life, myself included.
All my life, I have fought to overcome. Overcome failure, dis-ease, dis-order, and in-sanity.
Bottom line, as the dream so eloquently points out, is that there never is a way to fix all that. There is no sudden solution or ending. The storms of life rage on, ready to unleash their power at any time, and the only hope – the only answer – is to hold ground through it and humbly pick up the pieces afterwards, knowing that this is the best anyone can do; the best anyone can be.
Control is an illusion.