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Dreamed 1980/8/28 by Chris Wayan

I'm at a 24-hour Psychodrama marathon. One by one, audience members go onstage and act out scenes from their lives, amping them up, exploring them, switching roles... and usually, in the end, breaking down in tears or exploding with rage or joy. Insight on insight, on and on...

By morning we're emotionally limp, so the director calls for a break. The others all walk down the hall. I go last and find them in a little ice rink, skating! Takes me a while to find skates because they're in a bin, unpaired. Pull out several pair, but they're all wrong for me:

  1. Low shoes with no ankle support (unassertive wimpiness?)
  2. Traditional Inuit women's hip-boots, big and awkward (constricted feminine role?)
  3. Pointy-toed dress shoes like my friend Wally's (normality, conformity?)
  4. At last, an adequate but not great-fitting pair... (this psychodrama crowd?)
Two areas are roped off, one for beginners, the other advanced. I don't know where I fit. Beginners get open ice--more room, but no help. I haven't skated in years, but I want to be pushed by skilled teachers, so I try the advanced side. It's narrow, split into aisles with fjordy ice-tongues between tall shelves, like some glacial supermarket.

As I go down one, a guy sweeping it says nastily "thanks for scratching up the ice I just smoothed!"

I want this guy off my back so I say "I'm sorry" though what I'm thinking is "If it's reserved, fence it off or put a sign up!"

He says "You're not sorry, you don't care at all." Quite true. But he succeeds in intimidating me; I go back toward the beginners' side where it's dull but safe.

I see a newcomer among the skaters out in crowds on the main ice, a man with a baseball bat rolled in bright cloth, like a parody of a hockey player. But no skates on! Round him a mock hockey game starts. Develops into a real shoving match, then a fight, then a full riot. Half the Men's Group and the entire Psychodrama Workshop swinging bats and clubs. Hard. Thunk! Broken bones and concussions for sure.

I retreat to a small side aisle and watch. Slowly the war subsides. Gonna be some sick, sore shrinks for weeks. One or two others are in the room with me; they mutter and glare at me as if I'm contemptible for staying out of the fight (but they're not? Hypocrites!)

All quiet now. Safe yet? I don't know quite why, but I roll up a poster and roll it across the ice as a test. Men get up and come at me, yelling "GET THAT COWARD, THAT TRAITOR!" Soon a whole mob is after me. Four Afghanis, the nearest men, surround me--give me no chance to challenge the accusation. As they start to attack and I realize I have no way out, someone says matter-of-factly "sometimes people JUST GET KILLED." Well I still have two escapes, though I feel they're cheating: I can go lucid and give myself powers, or I could just wake up.

Reluctantly, I wake, feeling ashamed...

For not letting them clobber me!

1980 NOTES

2000 NOTE

This dream was ugly, but it raised issues I only saw explored years later in Elaine Aron's book "The Highly Sensitive Person"--America's love of butch behavior, and its scorn for sensitive and femme types. The bias was extreme in this particular psychodrama group, born in the rowdy sixties counterculture around Stanford University; many of the core group used Synanon-style confrontation. This dream warned me that these disciples of the Human Potential movement shared, even exaggerated, America's butch bias. They scorned sensitivity as middle-class.

And played to hurt.



LISTS AND LINKS: stupid guilt - nightmares - lucid dreams - shamanic dreams - dream humor - dream violence - dream sports - dream advice - dreams of therapy (or rioting therapists) - a related dream: Potato Person and Fossil Barbie - psychodrama - Elaine Aron

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