At my parents’ house, poorly with a bad cold. On TV there was a film which I happened also to be reading the book of. I’d watched the film on my own, whilst lying on the sofa. Just the next day, my parents wanted to see the film too; I didn’t particularly want to watch it again, especially as it was pretty disturbing, but I was kind of stranded on the sofa, too sluggish to move. Once again I saw the same narrative unfold in front of me. I was starting to find I could quote bits of the dialogue in advance, stuck in a loop of film-book-film:
A wealthy, middle-class couple came to stay one summer with another couple, in their mansion house. When I think about it now, the setting and characters remind me of A Dangerous Corner, a 1930s play which I saw on stage a couple of years ago.
Shortly after they arrived, the one man murdered his wife (by lethal injection?) to clear the way for he and the other man to engage in a long tournament; they would take it in turns to inject mild poison into the backs of each others’ hands. Each injection required a fresh scratch to the hand, so they had to keep looking for one good vein after another. It seemed to be a macho competition, to see who could survive the longest as each dose of poison gradually weakened them towards, inevitably, the death of at least one of the two.
I had been ill at my parents’ house recently. I had both read and watched The Book Thief, which might have – on a literal level – prompted the dream-feeling of taking in the same story again and again, although I think, symbolically, the dream also wants me to be aware of a pattern in my life that keeps repeating. Given the subject matter, that pattern is presumably in my intimate relationships.
This was a semi-lucid dream, in which I was aware that it was me creating the story, but I didn’t know how it would end. I have those quite often – where I’m writing a book, or watching a film or play that I wrote – and I’ve assumed that that was because I actually want to write something longer and publishable, but don’t currently feel like I can. Looking at this particular dream though – the motif of a story that keeps repeating – I think there’s more. I know what the patterns are that keep repeating in my relationships (and elsewhere in life), but so far, knowing hasn’t helped me to change, at least not enough. Murder, she watched challenges me to see how passive I still am, never really authoring my own fate but just watching as entirely predictable events unfold.
As for the nature of these predictable events, according to the dream… if I (grudgingly) go with the likely Freudian interpretation, that injections are a metaphor for penetrative sex, then what we have here is a man who kills his wife (possibly by having sex with her), leaving him free to engage in some kinky shit with another man.
If I’m the wife, then I’m afraid that a partner will betray me and cause my soul-death? Possible…but the wife was too minor a character for me to think that’s it.
If I’m the other guy’s wife, then I know what’s going on and I’m just turning a blind-eye? Hmm.
I have no current concerns that the person I recently took up with is going to ditch me for another man.
And if I’m one of the blokes, then what the fuck?
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote that we all have a male and female side to our pysches, and if he were to interpret my dream, I imagine he’d say that the male side of my psyche (my animus) wishes to ‘kill off’ my female side, at least when it comes to relationships. To cast aside archetypally ‘feminine’ tendencies towards romantic commitment, in favour of the more ‘masculine’ pursuit of sex without love.
But for me, the penny only dropped when I was looking at pictures of blood-filled syringes with which to illustrate this blog, and I suddenly made the association with HIV. So, I take the dream to represent a lurking fear that I might die of something sexually transmitted.
I did have that fear just under a year ago, when I caught a flu virus that had also taken down several of my friends. I knew that a seasonal bug was going round, but because for the last few years I’d seemed to keep catching whatever went, I got myself terrified that I had an underlying problem with my auto-immune system. At that time, I’d been in an exclusive relationship for years, and around the start of that relationship I’d had all the routine tests done, so my risk of any STIs was all but nonexistent. Even so, I was on the brink of booking another test when the flu, and my paranoid thoughts with it, started to lift. Later, comparing notes with friends who’d been house-bound with the same virus, it turned out that morbid, uncharacteristic and / or irrational thoughts had been a common symptom.
Another time – about ten years ago – I had a few bouts of ovulation pain or mittelschmerz, but not knowing what it was, I naturally assumed that my ovaries were dying, (I had a mental image of them turning black and shrivelling up like a walnut) and that this was God’s punishment for my having immoral sexual thoughts. Despite my being monogamous with only my second boyfriend at the time. And despite, you know, not believing in God.
I give you these examples to show you some extent of my mind’s capacity for what-the-fuckery, which is not limited to the dream state but sometimes enhanced by it.
Any further thoughts, readers? If you recognise any of these happenings from your own dreams, let me know in the comments!