My subconscious is a trip. Most of the time, dreams really do help process what is affecting me deeply. This particular dream is a good example.
In a dream Wednesday, it was night time (in the dream) and I was walking out of the edge of a city and suburb where I was living. The skyline and bejeweled lights spread out behind me as I headed toward a huge and expansive woodland area. No words were spoken but someone at the edge of these very dark woods, at the beginning of a twisting and difficult path into them, was taunting me. He was trying to provoke anger and stir up negative energy in our respective communities. Cloaked in a comforting and well-fitted overcoat, I made my way toward him.
About 40 feet away I recognized him as an ex-gay leader I actually know in the non-dream world :). One I had considered a mentor (of sorts, not my “official” mentor) for decades. We are no longer friends. In the dream, he also had some type of covering, but his cloak(?) was a tightly knotted mess. It looked like it was not allowing him to use his arms. It wasn’t a straight-jacket, he isn’t in need of one of those, he just refused to wear it the way it was designed to be worn. After recognizing him I stopped walking and was perplexed by his behavior. He was incredibly angry. Malice had twisted his face. That’s when he kicked a ball. When it landed it just planted itself about 2 feet in front of me. No bounce and it was a volleyball (the only sport I have ever been halfway decent at.)
Again, no words but in my head I thought, “This doesn’t make sense. He wants to play volleyball? There isn’t anything about this situation that is conducive to that. Looking up at him, I knew that he was trying to provoke me into engaging him and without saying it, I somehow communicated to him, “This, our disagreement, is not a game.”
At that moment, the ball deflated. Without any sadness or remorse, I turned and walked back toward home leaving the angry former friend to tend to his own path. While walking away, others started leaving the dark woods in all directions, too. Then I woke up.
Before the dream and earlier on Wednesday, I received some nasty troll’ish messages through this blog and via LinkedIn. I had also read an article by this former friend that called gay men like me who left the ex-gay world weak, harmful, selfish and regularly states in some fashion or form that we were blasphemous indulgent boys…not real men. Consciously, after those things happening within the span of an hour of each other, I made the decision to not confront/engage that leader and not respond to the troll’ish messages.
It appears my subconscious agrees that it is healthy to not play the game of allowing hatred/taunting to provoke and capture my attention. I used to be manipulated by that game (familiar) but now it simply falls flat, doesn’t make sense, and I can clearly see it provides a false context leading only to further dysfunction and darkness.
As a man, who also happens to be gay, I left the false path of someone else’s construction and am comfortable in my own skin, abilities, and purpose. I know where my “home” is and how to get there.
When I explained the dream to Dan, he asked if I thought my dream meant I was leading, or saw myself leading, others out of the dark woods; since they started pouring out of it from all over the place when I turned to walk back toward home. I didn’t get the impression in the dream that my action was leading to their freedom. That would be quite vainglorious indeed :)! It seems my subconscious was simply recognizing that I am not the first and definitely not the last who will find our way out of unhealthy religious legalism and the “ex-gay” world. We were all leaving the dark woods because we had all found our own way out of confusion and journeying in clarity.
While I am all for, and deeply value, encouragement, and support, I trust that people can think for themselves. They will … we will… find our way.
Now, it is the thought that others will relate to these observations that led me to write this post. Of course, this is my subconscious so the “interpretation” of the dream is biased to my beliefs and perspectives. That said, the dream feels very healthy and affirming. I hope it is encouraging (or at least a somewhat interesting read :)) for others.
If you are still making your way out of the dark and confusing places in your life, you will make it. In your heart you will know where to place the next step forward. Forgive and release even those that don’t seek either. Don’t be distracted by anger and fear; step by step you wil find your way home.
Just ignore the deflated volleyballs along the way.
[callout]Quote for the graphic came from a book called “Love Is All You Need.”[/callout]