Father Tony

Alicia's Dream

Filed By Father Tony | November 26, 2008 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: relationships

Dear Father Tony,

I had the same dream three times and it is bugging me.

In it, I am in the kitchen standing next to the ironing board and I'm holding the iron and I'm sort of smiling in a calm way like I'm peaceful. I feel real peaceful.

One by one, I take clothes out of a basket and iron them. They are all my girlfriend's stuff. We have been together for six years and I love her and I think she loves me, but who knows. I can't read minds, you know? Like all couples, we have our fights.

I iron and fold and stack her stuff in neat piles. I do it slowly and carefully and I like doing it. I am proud of the neat stacks. I look down and see that she has come in kitchen and she is looking up at me and watching what I am doing, but she is little and she looks just like the photos we have of her when she was a little girl with braids. She doesn't say anything. She just watches me, and I am thinking "Why doesn't she say anything?"

Rest after the jump.

I fold everything in neat piles and it's like slow motion. We walk out the kitchen door and we are carrying the piles and we go into the back yard and I put the piles on the grass in a row. I have a shovel and I dig deep holes in a row and I place the piles of her clothes in the holes and fill the holes back up with the dirt. It's like a new garden. She watches all this and still nothing.

That's about it. What does this mean? I am really really worried about this dream. It's dark like death and it's so quiet.

Thanks for helping me understand it so I don't have this dream again.

-- Alicia

Dear Alicia,

Fascinating, and even though you give me very few words (a very spare description of your dream), I felt as if I were in the kitchen with you and watching from the other side of that ironing board. I followed you out into the yard and knelt on the grass just on the other side of the ditch you were digging. I think I can describe what is going on here.

You are probably the one who calls the shots in your relationship. You enjoy but also resent this role, and you wonder if your girlfriend appreciates or is even aware of the responsibilities you have in your relationship. I would be willing to bet money on the probability that when you two argue, you say things that begin with Just once, I wish you would...., or, Why am I always the one who has to...?

I am also guessing that you had or have a long and complicated relationship with your mother (Oh, I know, that is a laughably safe and generic statement of the sort that a sham fortune teller might make.) from whom you got some domineering and problem-solving traits. Have you, in some ways, locked your partner into a mother-daughter relationship in which you direct the solving of her problems because you know you are good at it even though you do not like always being the one in charge? Are you sometimes afraid that you are solving her problems more for your own benefit and not so much for hers? Do you wish that sometimes she would take care of you? Do you feel afraid to discuss this with her because most of the time you rather like being the mentor and the one in charge? Do you love her because of the person she is even though her natural reluctance to speak about these things is annoying to you?

You may be surprised to hear that I don't think this dream is as worrisome as you make it out to be. It is actually rather positive. In it, you are both doing what you do by nature. You express some frustration, but your partner does not. It seems as if she is happily in tow, but like a child, she has not yet stepped up to the responsibility to perform as a true partner. I wonder if she would say that you don't let her do that. She may feel that she has no choice but to accept the role you have carved out for her. I can't tell, from the dream, whether or not this is the case. That is the stuff that a couple's counselor would address. In this case, however, if the two of you discuss the dream together before you see a counselor, you will maximize the power of your first meeting.

You might want to think of this dream as a gentle internal prod to action. You can replace the possibility of having the dream again by discussing it with your partner. Make sure that your discussion goes beyond just your recounting of the dream. Ask for her impression of it. Do not let her off the hook if she says "I don't know what it means." Tell her that you need her input and be persistent. She will be uncomfortable at first because your established roles (functional or dysfunctional) will be changing.

Aim for the day when she will be a fully participating partner but realize that when it happens you had better be ready to relinquish some of the control with which you have become comfortable.

The positive aspect of the dream is your trip to the backyard where you create a garden out of your partner's buried clothing. In other words, by guiding her in the resolution of her problems and her past, you are planting the seeds of a better future with the assumption that you and she will reap the fruit of this work together. It seems as if you are doing all the work, but it also seems that she is watching you with admiration and appreciation. Maybe she feels that if not for you, she would never be able to resolve those issues that you have slowly and methodically "ironed out" for her.

I think human nature never changes. In some ways, we never become more than the little children we were, but the grown-up version of those children learns how to rise above the limitations of that nature, and, learns how to love someone who is very different. You were probably first drawn to her because of those very differences.

That is what I think your dream is about. Or, it might mean that you should stop eating curried chicken right before bed.


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Or, it might mean that you should stop eating curried chicken right before bed.

I vote for the curried chicken theory. :)