Last night’s dream: A UFO, rainbow colours, water pipes and a lake

Last night’s dream was the most fascinating in quite a while. I was in some sort of building looking out of the window at a wood. Somehow I knew there was a lake beyond but I was scared of it. There was a room to my right containing a large amount of water pipes. I was absolutely terrified of these pipes and didn’t want the door open at all. I asked someone if the pipes would open out into the lake. I was told they probably would. Then it started to rain heavily and I knew the rain and the lake were the same. It was extremely dark. The ceiling began to leak and I looked for a cup to catch the water before realising I’d need something bigger. Then water began to pour down the walls. I looked out of the window only to see a beautiful rainbow. It got closer and I realised it was the shape of a saucer…it was a UFO! I whipped out my phone and started to video it. My mother (I think) walked towards it and I was scared she would be abducted, but soon after she came back and the UFO started to retreat. I videoed the beautiful rainbow moving further away. Then I saw the spirit of a white dog. After this I woke up.

The feelings that overrode this dream were the polar opposites: fear and love. I was scared of the lake and, most of all, the pipes. I do have a fear of water pipes in IRL but nothing like as exaggerated as it was in the dream. I think my fear here works on two levels; psychological and spiritual. I’m feeling emotional overwhelm due to the situation with my son, represented by the water pouring through the ceiling and walls and the sinister pipes, but I’m also scared of my spiritual power and the incredible energy being channelled through me which is represented by the pipes and the lake of my subconscious mind. The rain is deeply cleansing on all levels and as the source of life represents eternity itself.

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplative meditation lately and am aware that the Divine is only found in the moment, in the midst of suffering, not in some far away land when suffering is no more (as much as I wish for that). In meditation, I am often aware of a lot of energy. I can’t explain or label it but it’s there nonetheless. It’s a comforting feeling but also very powerful and disconcerting. I know I can tap into it and the effects would be massive, as indeed it has been in the past after a lot of meditation. I think the pipes behind the door are all the energy I’m keeping in view but scared to fully look at due to what they may unleash from my subconscious. I’m scared of my own power which is always available to me through my connection with the Divine in the moment. The dog may represent the underworld, reinforcing this primal connection to All That Is.

The UFO is even more interesting. Carl Jung believed it was a religious symbol, indicating attainment. Other interpretations suggest a symbol of the universe or the higher self. All of these ideas could be applied here and the beautiful colours suggest spiritual energy is surrounding me and available to me to tap into. And of course all the symbolism of a rainbow can come into play here – hope, transformation, God’s promise after the flood. It’s funny how I videoed it on my phone – I didn’t stay fully present to it, but wanted to hold onto it, place technology between myself and it. That shows some resistance as much as longing, which is part of the theme of being afraid of the power available to me. And of course my mother – or my higher self – wasn’t ‘abducted’ by the UFO; there was a short visit and the UFO went away. I won’t take on more than I am ready to.

I woke up feeling happy and awed. It’s a dream that was full of atmosphere and will stay with me as a comfort as I plough through these tough times.

The peace that passes all understanding

If ‘God’ doesn’t feel a good fit it can be omitted or replaced with ‘the Divine’ or ‘Spirit’ or ‘meditation’ or even ‘Self’ because the word doesn’t really matter, it’s only semantics; what matters is the state of peace that the words are pointing towards. It’s a experience of peace so profound and pure that no life circumstance, situation or event can pull you from it. There’s only pure eternal Being.

For someone like me who thinks too much, I easily lose myself in mind. I want to work it all out. I want to figure out what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, and when. That’s all useful….up to a point. I also need to let things go and rest in the peace of the moment where my thoughts cannot reside. I need to surrender to and rest in God who is beyond mind. In doing so, I can allow my thoughts to calm and my natural inner beauty to shine like a flower in perfect harmony with all that is.

Keeping the faith

Not for the first time I feel like Job in the Bible asking ‘why’ in the midst of despair.

Some time ago I mentioned to a therapist that I often wondered ‘why me?’ during my painful struggles and she said that when she said the same many years ago people in her circle used to respond ‘why not you?’ There is a bitter truth in that. We cry out from the depths of our hearts. Our pain feels so deeply personal. So much so that God/the Universe must have done this to us. Like Job, we feel wronged. We know we’ve always tried our best, or even if we haven’t, we’ve made up for it somehow. So why did this terrible event/situation/tragedy occur? No one has or ever will have an answer to that beyond that suffering is a given and no one is spared. It’s just that some people seem destined to suffer much more or less and the only way forward is to somehow trust that it’s all unfolding how it’s meant to be because otherwise it would be different than it is.

Yesterday I heard that my son is being evicted from his residential home. I knew how much the staff were struggling with him but somehow I never thought this would actually be the outcome. I feel bone-crushingly sad. I have no idea where he will go now. It could have been such a lovely home for him. Those are the words I seem to constantly repeat in relation to my son: could have been. I pulled out all the stops to try and make things easier for him so that his behaviour may improve but it hasn’t worked. I know there is a lot of hurt in those words. I feel affronted that none of it made any difference. It’s a deep-seated wound that nothing I’ve done has made a difference to my son but I know that isn’t true. It springs from my sadness that I wish life had been different for both of us. And I know if I hadn’t become so sick/hospitalised and that if my ex wasn’t the way he is, things certainly would be very different now.

And therein lies my struggle. It drags me down like a lead weight until I feel I have no strength to fight. Giving in feels too much, too painful. So I frantically search for a way out, considering all the addictive tendencies I’ve had in the past as a way to escape unbearable feelings, but not able to bring myself to go there because I’m too aware, too conscious of my actions and their consequences now. I’m left with raw pain that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I can’t cry either so I’m just staring listlessly into space and waiting for someone to ring me – my son’s social worker, the home, a family member – so I don’t feel so desperately alone with it all. At the moment it seems the social worker will call tomorrow. I don’t yet know the way forward.

I’m remembering a scene from the movie ‘The Shack’ (wonderful movie, btw) where the guy is in a boat which is breaking up, a metaphor for his terrible pain and struggle over the abduction and murder of his young daughter, and Jesus walks up to the boat, on the water, telling him to ‘have faith’ and ‘look at me’ because each time the guy focused on his suffering, the boat broke apart more and water poured in. Eventually, the guy found his faith and climbed out of the boat onto the water with Jesus, finding himself able to walk back to the shore. This is a natural re-telling of the Bible story where Jesus told his disciples to have faith. I don’t believe the walking on water was literal, although who knows it may have been, but a metaphor for our ability to overcome our emotional pain when we keep the faith in something bigger than ourselves, whether that’s God, the Universe, or our own soul/higher/Christ self.

The Bible is all about faith in the midst of terrible suffering, as well as the human need to cry out and ask ‘why’ when we are hurting. Whilst there’s never any clear answers to why we suffer, what’s certain is no one is alone, and while life is desperately hard sometimes, with faith we find the strength to keep moving forward.

Reflections on childhood and God

Over this Easter I have been thinking a lot about my childhood and realising while it was painful in many ways (very dysfunctional, disjointed family and chronic bullying at school) I have a lot to be grateful for. I spent a lot of time in nature, whether it was picking blackberries down the field over the fence that backed onto the bottom of our council estate, or hiding in a makeshift ‘den’ which consisted of a tree stump surrounded by overhanging hedgerow over the fence that ran alongside our house. I spent a lot of time in nature and had freedom that many kids these days can’t even imagine.

Most of all, though, I found comfort in the Bible. I took my Good News Bible down to my den and read it there. No one forced me to read it; on the contrary, I grew interested in it myself being an avid reader of Enid Blyton books where, being the 1950’s, every child went to church and Sunday school. I decided I wanted to go and my mum, being drawn to religion herself, took me every week. It was there I bought my Bible, some workbooks, and several wonderful books by Patricia St John about children of my age who were troubled in some way before finding God and becoming Christian.

My view of God was very simple. I could talk to him daily and did through the Bible workbooks I completed in my den. He was all powerful but loving and good. I wanted to be good to please God. That was massively important to me, so much so that I completed many notebook entries simply asking God to help me to be good. My childhood inevitably tapped into this need to be good because I was the ‘good child’ for my mum whilst my sister had severe mental disturbances and caused my mum a lot of pain. I wasn’t told to be good, however, and I certainly wasn’t threatened with God’s wrath if I wasn’t. The desire to find God and do right by him belonged to me alone.

In some ways I miss the simplicity of those years. I had no doubt that God had my back. I saw him as a loving parent, someone who cared for me. Someone who was always THERE. My view of God is now much more complicated. When I pray, I no longer feel just as though I’m praying to someone outside of me, but affirming something inside. God isn’t a personal being sitting on a cloud, but an energy that exists in each one of us and the entire universe. This means the power lies within and always has done. My childhood dreams of God enabled me to tap into that power and transform myself through my faith.

What I’m missing is that certainty, that focus, that point of power. I’ve lost that innocence and now my mind questions and critics everything. It’s no longer straightforward. I have purchased a few of the Patricia St John books that I used to read to help me tap into that energy again and the part of me that knew the truth no matter what form it took. I didn’t even consider any other forms. I didn’t question it. It just was. I’m finding my way back there through meditation and – yes- prayer, but I need to be mindful that I don’t get side-tracked by critical thoughts such as ‘but God doesn’t exist outside of you.’ Says who? God is everywhere, inside and out. It doesn’t matter what term we give it – God, Divine, Energy, Source – we are all part of it. But the point of power has always been within. The difference between the child and the adult is that the former didn’t know this, but the latter does.

From confusion/judgement to love and compassion

I’ve been feeling quite confused and preoccupied lately following my son’s move into assisted living and my own up and down experience with the emotions of dating. I haven’t reached any real conclusions about the latter, only that I find it hard to trust my emotions, maybe because I’m aware that emotions are temporary and not truly who I am. Even so, I wish they would provide me with some consistency and less like I’m completely insane. I went to bed last night feeling very low and genuinely wondering if there was something wrong with me. Yep – it always seems to boil down to that. Maybe because the root of all this pain is feeling disconnected from my soul and from God/the Universe. I thought my dating experience was a way to share my soul and give love but maybe subconsciously I HAVE been trying to fill a gap that historically I’ve filled with spiritual practices such as meditation. Maybe none of this will ever make sense until I make connecting with my soul a priority again. I haven’t stopped meditating but my energy has been elsewhere, seeking experiences that will never make me whole.

I don’t know how relevant this is but it FEELS so. Last night I had a dream that I was adopting an African child of about five years old. She was absolutely beautiful – very long, wiry, black hair. I was aware she was called Shia. I carried her on my hip. Then I went to see her biological parents who were giving her up for adoption. I referred to them as ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ for Shia’s benefit. Then I looked at the parents with love and compassion and said ‘I know you don’t want her but there’s no judgement. I completely understand.’ My thoughts turned to my own son and my struggles to raise him, and I truly did.

The dream felt very comforting on my waking and I wanted to explore it further. I feel it relates to my feeling very bad about myself last night, that there’s something inherently wrong with me and my emotions. This may have been projected onto the parents in the dream who felt wrong for giving up their little girl. Maybe I need my own love and compassion and assurance that no one is judging me. My ego feels judged. That is a powerful thought. Judged by whom? Or maybe it is guilt at feeling disconnected from my own light. Interestingly, the little girl may represent my wounded inner child who is looking for safety and love and acceptance – again from my own being. No one else can give that to her, at least, not in a way that assures permanence. The parents rejected her, representing those part of myself that are rejecting my innocence, as well as the literal context of feeling guilty about my autistic son. Finally, I looked up the name Shia and it means ‘God is salvation.’ This reinforces the whole meaning of the dream – and I use the word ‘whole’ with intent – as it’s all about listening to my soul, loving the aspects of myself that are wounded and scared, and bringing it all to the light of awareness and compassion to become whole. This is our salvation.

Someone once said to me – a Jehovah’s Witness no less, but then I don’t discount anyone’s beliefs if they resonate with me on a deeper level – ‘Put God first, then everything else will fall into place.’ I’ve never forgotten it because I recognise the truth in it. Humans have human experiences and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s what we’re here to do. But losing contact with our soul is a recipe for suffering and leads to a dish of emptiness and misery. I know now that I feel judged when I have lost my connection with my inner being. No one is judging me; I’m doing that to myself, only turning it into guilt and shame. This is as old as time. It’s the fall of Adam and Eve. The way forward is to recognise it and pour our compassion on it. In my dream I even used the words ‘there is no judgement.’ What a relief to hear! We judge ourselves because we know deep down we’re not embracing the perfect, beautiful, holy beings that we truly are.

While I’m not in that place yet, I believe that bringing myself back to a place of deep spiritual connection will bring some clarity to the situations I’m struggling with. I won’t be throwing myself into dating longing for it to bring me answers, or for my emotions to suddenly make some kind of sense. I will know intuitively what I need to do and what is right for us both. And likewise, seeing my son from a place of connection and wholeness will mean not desperately seeking something from him that can never be and feeling upset when he can’t give it. I need to get out of my own way. I need space to find myself again.

All paths lead home

I’m a huge X Files fan and used to eat, sleep and breathe the show. I haven’t watched it in years but one of the many beautiful quotes that stand out for me is Scully’s sister Melissa saying ‘There’s no right or wrong, it’s just a path.’

It used to make me cry to hear it. For many years of my life I DID believe I’d taken the wrong turn, failed, or plain messed up. I thought God, the Universe or Spirit was punishing me because I hadn’t listened to my intuition, or had but made the ‘wrong’ decision anyway. I went to see an alternative therapist when I was young and impressionable and she reinforced this belief by implying that because I hadn’t learnt my lesson from one situation the Universe had needed to make my life even harder. I can see the logic behind her view but the problem is she presented it in a way that suggested that my entire life circumstances were an external punishment for not having listened to myself or Spirit.

I went through life suffering with thoughts that I was a spiritual failure, that I hadn’t been ‘good.’ Even as a small child I had strong morals and was determined to be good in the eyes of God. I wrote to Him in notebooks and prayed for the capacity to choose what was right. I was eleven years old! At thirty one I was lost in a spiritual depression. I couldn’t see my way out. I’d tried so hard to get it right, this thing called life. And somehow I kept going wrong.

Years later, I can see and understand that I wasn’t being punished, and that the choices I made, even though they weren’t always the best choices for myself, were only leading me back to where I was always headed, the only place I CAN be: my own Self. I couldn’t go ‘wrong’ in the eyes of God, or Spirit, because the Divine light was always within me, and whatever I experienced was yet another opportunity to find my way back home to my Self. (Please note: I’m not referring to decisions made by others that inflict pain or cruelty as that’s a whole other topic. )

The very human, wounded part of me, still reacts to this understanding. Like, ‘Hang on, there’s got to be something more to it than that? It has to mean more, surely? Why DID I go through that hell?’ Maybe that’s my ego-based personality not wanting to accept that the journey serves as a reminder that I am already home. In the film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s dream journey to Oz showed her that what she sought she already had within. Without the journey she wouldn’t have realised it. I don’t love or even like the journey in many places as it’s been incredibly hard and I honour that, but I see it for what it is: my path home.

As a child I knew this, I just framed it differently. I knew that I could draw on God, or Spirit, to show me the way to being the person I sensed I was despite all the external conditioning. I knew he would lead me home if I asked. I knew I had a lot of power at my disposal that I could draw on as and when I needed. But then I grew up. That’s the funny thing about this life – we are re-learning what we always knew. As Jesus said about young children, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’

To anyone thinking, as I did, that you’ve gone wrong or are being punished: You’re not! You are a beautiful soul dealing with this crazy game called life. It’s hard. But trust that you’re always on the road home. It’s just learning to see through all the illusions and realise the light that is always in you and each of us.

Finding who I Am in the struggle

I intend to always be honest in this blog about my struggles. And life can be a struggle. I often feel that I’m in a dark night of the soul experience with a genuine glimpse of the light ahead but with a little way from fully embracing my existence as a spiritual being.

My life has been about loss. I grew up in a dysfunctional family where secrets and divisions were the norm, as were isolation and loneliness. I turned to God as a coping mechanism and thereby started my spiritual path where I never felt truly alone in the world, even though I very much did in my family.

As an adult I married young in the hope of creating the family unit I had always craved. Unfortunately my ex husband was also a product of his own wounded upbringing (as are so many of us) and our marriage was painful and abusive. We had our son very early on and loved him dearly but by the time he was three he had a diagnosis of autism and learning difficulties, which would turn out to be severe.

I loved being a parent in so many ways, but it was desperately hard. I had already fallen very unwell at university in my teens, and my health deteriorated as I tried to cope with my son’s challenging behaviour and hyperactivity. Our marriage ended as I realised I simply couldn’t stay with someone who treated me as if I was worthless. It was the first sign that I was starting to respect who I am, despite everything.

Life as a single mum with severe health issues and an autistic child was very tough and lonely. I fell into a deep depression. I felt fluey and weak all the time. I tried my very best for my son and was grateful for support from a very good social worker (yes, there are such things!) but my ex lacked empathy and understanding. He had our son at weekends but turned up and brought him back to his own timetable. He couldn’t see things from anyone else’s viewpoint.

To cut a long story short, my health got worse and worse, both physically and mentally. I was housebound. Carers came to take my son out to activities that I couldn’t manage. I tried to give my son a good life. On the few times I managed to take him out, such as for a meal, it was a disaster. He ran around the restaurant grabbing food off people’s plates as I desperately tried to control him. People looked at me as if I was scum. I went home crying my heart out. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I’d envisaged being the mother I’d never had and setting the boundaries I’d never experienced. An autistic child wasn’t part of the deal.

When my son was 10 I ended up in hospital with my POTS and from that point on my ex took over. And when I say took over, I mean took over. He dictated when I could have him and for how long, and as I was so unwell and completely within his control, I agreed to anything to see my son. Eventually he stopped me seeing him completely. It went to court and from 2015 onwards I began to see him at a set time at his mother’s house. Finally, for the first time in my life, I had some sense of peace. I could see him for a length of time I could manage, with the support of someone else, and away from dealing with my ex.

Now to the present day. After a brief period of my son coming to my home and myself trying to manage but realising for many reasons that it was not safe to do so, my son has been moved into accommodation with several other young autistic men who are supported to achieve the independence they can but with the aid of 24/7 carers. I can visit him without answering to anyone else. I do not see my ex anymore.

It has been a long hard road. I am still unwell but since 2015 my health has started to pick up. I am still picking up the pieces mentally as well. I drew on my spiritually for the many years I was caring for my son and sick, but I always hoped it would make things better, which it never did (false assumption on my part). However, it gave me strength and without it I know I would not have survived. I trusted that there was some purpose in my experiences even though I couldn’t understand it. I knew my son was teaching me so much about love and I knew that some day it would all make sense.

My life is peaceful now. I live alone, I am starting my own business, I am improving health-wise, I have good friends, my dog, and I have proper access to my son. But I am still sifting through my life and wondering what the hell happened and how I move forward. There has been SO much loss. But maybe it was to prepare me for the realisation that who I am is so, so much more than all of that and I cannot rely on external circumstances to provide the validation or love I crave.

I believe this part of my journey is about continuing to grieve the losses, especially of a family life, both as a child and a parent, because I wanted both so badly. But also to let go and surrender to the light of who I really am. I can’t bypass my pain or my life to date – nor should I want to – it all happened. My son is a beautiful soul who helped me trust in my own worth rather than relying on acknowledgment from him that I was doing okay.

Maybe my journey has always been about trust, no matter what is taken away. And that I’m strong and resilient. Despite everything I have myself, and my own love.

Acceptance and gratitude

Gratitude helps me stop and take stock of what’s positive and working in my life on days when it’s hard to see past what is far from ideal or I wish was different in some way.

It’s too easy to fall into lamenting what seems wrong or feeling jealous of what others have that I wish I had.

Being grateful for my lot doesn’t mean pretending my feelings are any different than they are or denying they even exist; the last thing anyone needs is to feel bad for having feelings that simply ARE.

Acceptance is the key. In accepting where I am right now, I let the feelings flow, allowing my heart to open and space for new perspectives and experiences to emerge. This is when gratitude can take shape within us as we realise we’re always guided by the Divine to be the best we can be, even when life is unbearably tough. We’re never alone.

In the words of the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So be it.