Cutting a Tree (Jul 1995)

A photo of my Dad as a logger in the Nass Valley. When I was five years old, our family visited the giant Redwoods in California. I still have my souvenir, a hand-carved letter 'A' pin (initial for my name) from a wind fallen tree. I remember being fascinated as they told the story of how they made money from fallen trees, which helped keep the park open so that people could appreciate the huge trees.

Thanks to the many people who encouraged me to keep writing this past year as I processed through the married era of my life. It helped me to get clear on what the issues really were and to understand myself a little bit more.

For the past several months, I have had many dreams with a similar theme: the Good Guys versus the Bad Guys. I found this most puzzling. Here are two examples of my dreams so that you may follow my process.

As I slept, I dreamt that I was leaving a party to go downstairs to my apartment. I put my belongings on the table and went back to close the glass door when this Rude Dude leans on my door frame. He and his friends want in and I am not about to let that happen. As I yell "Cops," they decide I'm not worth the hassle and head up the stairs. The cops arrive and see them. I know we are in for a shoot-out. I look for the lowest ground and hide, hoping the bullets won't ricochet and kill me.

Another dream has three officers saying to each other, "They have hit the edge of town. Why weren't we notified?" "They didn't go through the check-point, so they must have come over the hills." Three bikers ride up to the red light on their hogs. I figure it will be a fair battle as the cops prepare for the fight. I look up from the grassy bank where I am lying and as the red light changes colours I see three transport trucks blocking the road and revving up their motors and I know they are about to mow down the bikers. I bury my head in the grass and cry for I know this is the end. The bikers didn't have a chance but I also know it was their decision to come to town.

I am told that all the characters in the dream are a part of myself. So how were the Rude Dudes or Bikers part of me? No clues were coming to mind as we discussed them at our dream group, so I had a private session with the facilitator, Sarah Wellington. We decided we would try Voice Dialogue, a technique where I assume the pose of the Bad Guy and with my eyes closed, answer the questions. I tried to feel in my body how I would feel if I were the Rude Dude. The answers that came out of my mouth made little sense to me but it was fun acting and I played along. Then we switched roles and I got to be the Good Guy: that was much easier.

Sarah asked questions about incidents in my life and it was tough going for a while. The exercise made no sense to me but my body was starting to react, and I know the body never lies.

Finally, an incident came to mind. Last week, a special friend came to the Centre for a visit and I was delighted to be showing her around. Then the phone rang, Jan said, "It's for you." I said, "Take a message." At that moment my legs went weak and I had to concentrate on my breathing. After we finished talking and hugged our good-byes I went to my back office and sat down to try and figure out what the hell had happened, because I sure couldn't understand it. I reminded myself that I was boss and when I said I would phone them back, I didn't do anything wrong. I then quieted my mind, and thoughts of long ago came back.

I remembered being eight years old and living at the homestead in Rosswood, BC. Some girl friends and their parents had driven the forty miles to visit us and I was over-joyed. After we finished eating dinner, the girls and I headed out the door to go for a walk. My father said to me, "Do the dishes." I said, "It is not my turn, I did them last night," and kept right on walking. We had a great time chatting and laughing but after about twenty minutes my father drove past us on the tractor and I wondered where he was going. As we rounded the bend, he was on the side of the road breaking off a willow switch. As we got closer, I could see fire in his eyes. He told me to get home and do the dishes. I started running as he switched my bare legs all the way home screaming. As I came into the clearing in front of our house, I saw Mom on the porch doing the laundry. I yelled for her to stop Dad. With a weary look she shrugged her shoulders. I sobbed and cursed my way through the piles of dirty dishes feeling that life was unfair. The next day when my Mom was alone I asked her, "Why didn't you help me?" She said, "I am tired of fighting with your Dad." I felt a cold chill go through me as the deepest part of me said, "Angèle, you will survive."

It was that same coldness that swept through me about four years ago as I was going to press. I was working late getting the last layouts done so that I could take the weekend off and spend some time with Vicki, my friend and Reiki teacher. Suddenly and without apparent reason, my computer screen flickered and then said, "Fatal error." My body went cold and my jaw started chattering and I went into shock. It took me two hours in a hot bathtub to bring my body temperature back to normal. All the while, my mind was telling me, "Stay calm, it isn't the end of the world. Tomorrow we will arrange for help to do the typing. So what, if you can't spend time with Vicki." But I was really upset and I couldn't understand why.

Working through my dream characters with the Voice Dialogue helped me understand the connection and explained why I had this reaction to something my mind said was not a danger. Starting in January I had made a conscious choice to slow down, and that decision challenged my childhood belief system. My system could handle planned days off but when I said "No" and it thought I should be working, it must have blown the alarm whistle and sent my body into shock. My belief system was programmed to protect me, for it remembered the time when I took time off without permission and got hurt.

Together, Sarah and I figured out that the Rude Dudes and the Bikers represented the rebel part of me that told my Dad, "No, it isn't my turn." Dad was the law and when I challenged him I got hurt. Reliving the emotions and understanding my reactions should end the battle that has been going on inside of me. I am delighted to start understanding the messages my body gives me.

I give thanks to my Mom and Dad for the gifts they have given me. Mom showed me how to be a rebel and survive and Dad gave me a strong work ethic. Learning to combine these two talents has been a wonderful experience. I feel that change is in the air, so we'll see what happens this fall.