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Dreamed 80/7/24 by Chris Wayan

"Every woman adores a fascist" --Sylvia Plath

Night. I'm alone, ten thousand feet up in Yosemite, on a vision quest. Cold up here, but I'm cocooned in a spindle-shaped down bag. What will emerge from the chrysalis?

I doze. A noise wakes me and a huge bear is standing before me, black in the moonlight. I feel a shock and I wake again. No one.

But safety's a dream too. I wake again! Now, a tall terrible man looms over me. I feel a shock and I wake again... and he's gone.

It happens four or five more times! Each time I "wake", someone or something is in this lonely valley, but the explanations get less and less plausible. There's a new road a mile down, Disney bought the High Country and is developing it...

As a kid, on another Sierra trip, I dreamed of a mad ax murderer. I woke to find he was real, on the loose, nearby--his murders were front page news. Both my parents and at least one of my sisters dreamed of his murders too, all the same night, before we read the news.

He's haunted me my whole life. And now I'm back up in his, well, old haunts.

The last wake-up call is the worst--the Tall Man is back, and this time it's clear he's the axe murderer. I cringe back in my clumsy bag, and he grins. "You're a murderer too" he laughs. "I want to help you face this. The fact we share this is a nice basis for a... relationship." High in Yosemite, on a vision-quest, I dream a murderer looms over me.

I'm frozen in fear. He plays with his huge bare knife... as he keeps talking. He's always bullied me in my dreams, but this kind of talk is new. Relationship, sharing, growth... all with this horrible edge. The edge is sharp and about a foot from my face.

He says "I have to shadow you. I come to impart unpleasant truths." But... they aren't true! And when his story deviates from the facts I know, he just dismisses it as my mistake. "Let me refresh your memory..." and substitutes a false story for what I recall quite well.

Over and over he repeats one line: "We all have our faults." Who's this we? The crimes he confesses are his alone. I think again of the psychic dream I had of the ax murderer who turned out to be real. My dad, who dreamed of the killer too that night, took the violence in his dreams to be his own. He talked like the Tall Man--"we all" are killers under the surface, "we all" must face "our own" evil urges...

But recognizing the psychobabble, knowing where "we all" came from, doesn't stop the Ax Man. Any lie can be enforced--with a big enough knife.

I do try. I challenge his lies, I flounder up out of my cocoon and try to run, I even fight him... but he's too big, too persistent. He never admits he's caught in a lie, never relents, never stops. And I'm unwilling to fight to the death.

Why? Simple. He, like most absurdities, fills a need: I'll let anyone torment me rather than face being alone.

He's not the last, that night. More nightmares follow, in which I let others use and abuse me, rather than be alone. I lost the details, but recall the pattern all too well.

And I wake in the morning and hike down the mountain alone.

Alone because... no matter how I let them abuse me, they leave me. They always leave me.


Well... it wasn't pretty. But I climbed the mountain, and I asked, and I was answered. That I don't like the answer... well, deal with it! Change the pattern.

The trouble is, I gave it my all. I argued, I fled, I even fought a much bigger guy with a knife.

No. Not my all. I wasn't willing to die to change. To be free. And maybe that last percent of commitment is what I need. This will be a long hard war. My self-destructiveness is terribly strong.

So... I have to be stronger.

LISTS AND LINKS: ordeals and initiations - nightmares - power - false waking and nested dreams - healing from abuse - Jungian shadows - my childhood telepathic dream of ax murders - my uncle Hugh - Yosemite

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