Looking back, I was roped in to dream group way back when - my friend Gloria, then a new friend who I'd met through my meditation group, said that I might like it.
Six years later, I'm still there. The circle has changed - the stalwarts are there, but new faces are there too. There is never more than eight participants in the group. We know these each other inside and out even though there is a good chance we don't know each others surnames. The group doesn't really socialise. Gloria and I are friends outside of the group. There is another member of dream group who's in my book group - but that's it. I would probably not be friends with these people if I didn't know them from dream group. They wouldn't be friends with me. We're all very different people - not that this is a bad thing.
Yet these women are my community and my strength.
It's a bit like an AA meeting in some ways.
(Insert your Deity here), grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Yep, that sums it up. But we don't say the serenity prayer before we start. I normally get ragged for being a few minutes late most Wednesday nights - that’s how dream group normally starts.
Like an AA meeting, I cannot break the confidentiality of the group by talking explicitly about what goes on.
I can say, however, that there are times when you leave dream group and it feels like you've flayed, boiled in oil, dragged over a cheese grater - or in my case, at the moment - I feel like I've been harpooned.
It feels like there is a great, gaping, metaphorical hole in the middle of my chest.
This often happens when it's my dream. Not so much when we're looking at the dreams of others.
It reminds me of a few lines of Prufrock most times I go and give a dream - which thankfully isn't that often:
And I have known the eyes already, known them all
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?
Pinned like a bug on a museum wall - hung out to dry for all the world to see. Yep, that sort of explains it pretty well.
That's how I'm feeling at the moment. I know that from outward appearances I look completely normal. I'm not a crying, sobbing mess. I'm not red in the face. I don’t look down or unhappy. I just feel like I'm wandering around like I've had my insides cut in two with the harpoon that did the damage dragging around the place.
It's not the treatment of what goes down in dream group. It's what's in the dream that really gets you.
I knew this dream was going to be a doozy. My sister, an old friend, a long haired, sandy coloured, long haired Dachshund, a railway station. A kiss. And Puffing Billy - an old and favourite steam train that runs in the outskirts of Melbourne.
"But I like Puffing Billy!" I wailed between tears last night.
Highlighting my emotional inadequacies, my inability to get close to people, my reticence to change, the fact that I can't - or won't form relationships - opting for safety above anything else. That's what the chatter was about.
It's a bit of a stuck record.
But as Gloria said afterwards - maybe I have to get on that train. Go back into the dream and see where the train takes me. The cynic in me says that if I get onto Puffing Billy I'll end up the back end of Emerald on the oval. But I also love Puffing Billy. I love steam trains. And ending up in my dream at Belgrave Station - not the Metro trains line, but the Puffing Billy line - a rather beautiful narrow gauge railway that goes up into the wilderness.
Maybe it's my turn to venture into the emotional wilderness, face all the lions and tigers and bears (or in the case of the Dandenongs - the possums, stray cats and the odd wallaby).
We will see. Fore the moment, I'm just going to sit with my harpoon wound, have some faith in this system that has done some much good in the past and hope that something good will come out of this.
It normally does.