Archetypes come in all shades: the good nurturing matriarch and the destroyer, the strong, protecting patriarch and the tyrant…the trickster, the fool, the rebel, the child. You get the idea. All these archetypes exist inside us in some measure.
In dreams, I work on the premise that each element of the dream is a fragment of myself.
So what I’m going to talk about here is personal. It is not about a man or men, or about my conscious views on the subject of the male of the species. I’d like to be clear about that.
“Your patriarch had a dream,” KD says, after I tell her about the nightmare.
The light is dim in the dream, a brooding near-dark. I am standing on the bank of a large flat-bottomed pit, about six or seven feet deep. It resembles, slightly, a skate board park but it has been built for the purpose of torturing women. In this dream, there are a group of nearly grown boys. They are wearing the uniform of an exclusive private school – shorts, white shirts, jackets and striped ties. I know that the uniforms mean they are the children of wealthy, powerful people. Above the law.
One of the boys is in the pit, mercilessly kicking a woman who is only half-conscious and curled into fetal position. He is doing this simply because he can, because he thinks she is less.
I am down on the floor of the pit suddenly and find a shovel nearby. Raging, I hit at his legs with the edge of it, over and over, as hard as I can. He continues, somehow, to kick the woman anyway and I keep swinging the shovel at him.
The dream shifts and I am at the far end of the pit, back on the bank, face to face with an older man wearing the same uniform. The boys have retreated to a kind of underground bunker behind him. “No one is going to get to those boys,” he says.
“I’m calling the police,” I tell him “and we are going down there.”
Another shift and I’m at the opposite bank. In my hand is a crumpled medical document in a wrinkled paper bag. My father’s wife is there and I’m telling her that it’s medical information about my father. I’m anxious that it might be important and might be lost. And then I realize that my father is never coming back.
I wake up crying.
Patriarchal power gone mad and corrupt. Right next to the beloved father.
All in my own little psyche.
Somehow, the job is to own all this. I feel like I’ve been in a hit and run. From the pavement, I look up and see that the driver is someone I love and trust. I know perhaps, that he couldn’t swerve in time. But what kills me is that instead of getting out of the car, he screams into reverse and gets away from the scene as fast as possible. That’s how it feels.
In my heart of hearts though, I know that at some level I’ve allowed it to happen. The same corrupt patriarch embedded in his psyche – the one that tells him he has the power and I don’t, that he is justified in his feelings but I am not – is embedded in my psyche, too. The same beloved and good protector in his psyche is in mine too.
I’ll tell you though. I’m damn proud that I didn’t back down to the boss of the bully-boys.
And maybe, I’m going to own it all a little more. And stop blaming myself – and him – a whole lot more.I'm not foolish enough to think that this ends with one dream or realization. Or that I won't spend more days in tears. But right now, I'm upright. I'm walking and I have that shovel.