VLE Sample

“The Missing Hammer”

I dreamed my husband and I were busy puttering around the house when suddenly my husband stormed into my room as demanded to know where I had put his tack hammer. I felt a rush of anxiety and guilt. I am known for being absent-minded and not putting everything away where I found it. Yet as I anxiously search my memory, I’m fairly certain that I have not had this tool for many months.

Instead of my usual reaction of getting annoyed with the accusation, I simply say I don’t know where it is and proceed to search the house looking for it. I know that whether I lost it or not, my husband will be angry with me until it is resolved. I have a hunch about a room in the basement, and follow it, but do not find the hammer.

He continues to scold me. Instead of reacting, I simply say I don’t think I lost it and move away from him. I know he is feeling stressed at being out of work. I feel good at my ability to handle his anger, but my reaction is still to go in my room and sulk. I sit on the floor and tears well up in my eyes. I know that I am feeling like the young child who has been scolded by her mother and is sitting under the ping-pong table, trying to soothe herself.

I watch myself with these feelings and then decide that is enough and go about my business giving my husband space. Later, when I am out with a girlfriend, he calls to tell me he found the hammer. I am joyful at being exonerated and laugh and say “I accept your apology” before he apologizes.

He found it in the room I had a hunch it was. But it was up too high for me to see. Later, we discuss it a bit and he, feeling teased perhaps, continues to scold me as “The person who never puts anything away.” I become stern and say, “Robert I am wrong no matter what really happened. I did not misplace the tool and I have never actually lost one of your tools. But it doesn’t matter, I am still to blame.” He becomes quiet. I’m not sure I’ve reached him on this matter. But I am willing to let it go.

1. With what sense of self were you identified in this experience?

  • I felt at first a familiar old feeling of the “Unloved Child”.
  • On and off I became conscious in this experience, and became the observer.
  • In the end, I became the teacher, the authority.
  • I felt like I pulled out of my usual sulk much faster this day, with determination not to waste time in the "Unloved Child" mode—which gets me nowhere but sad. Still, I wonder how and why I get in this mode more often than I would like.
  • 2. How were the yin and yang polarities at work in this experience?

  • At first I was contracting but also emotional. Then I became more observant and detached.
  • Then I took some definite actions on my behalf. Robert was in his most Yang self -scolding, pointing the finger, assigning guilt.
  • I reacted first more yin—emotional, defeated.
  • Then consciously take a more firm, standing for self position, more yang.
  • 3. What were your strongest feelings, bodily sensations, and/or intuitions in this experience, and by whom or what, or in response to whom or what, were they evoked?

  • I noticed the feeling of sadness and shrinking, of fear and then falling into a familiar well of “nobody loves me, nobody really understands me.”
  • I became aware of the repetitive nature of those feelings through my own habit of trying to step back. Knowing that I repeat this feeling whenever I am on the defensive, I decided to try to feel it but let it go and see what happens. I found I could lay it aside and short circuit some of the resentment I normally feel afterwards.

  • 4. What symbols are present in this waking dream, in the form of persons, objects or places? What facets of you do those symbols represent? (Use especially those to which you feel drawn or have strong responses.)

  • My Fearful Self – the child who wants to please
  • My Victim Self – the child who feels unjustly accused
  • My Sad, world weary self – the child who feels lonely and unloved
  • My Accusing self – the person who blames without reason
  • My Tools – how vulnerable I feel when My “Tools” are missing???
  • 5. What don’t you know about this event?

  • I don’t know why Robert gets so defensive about his “things” and feels so angry when he can’t find something. Or maybe better… I don’t know why I don’t respect his need to have things in a certain order. (however in this case, I really didn’t misplace it, he did.) I don’t know why, exactly, I feel so lonely and childlike at times, as though I have never been loved. It is certainly not the case.
  • 6. What is the theme of this event?

  • Two themes emerged here: Feeling victims to other’s emotions and Taking charge of my emotions.
  • 7. What past experiences remind you of this event?

  • I have felt this many times – always with my husbands. As a child I felt it with my mother, who a few times got very angry with me. She never apologized. She’d get over it, but she’d never come back and explain her feelings, why she was so angry. I suspect most of the time it was her over tiredness or worries that made her lash out at me.
  • 8. What does this dream seem to be saying to you?

  • I did become aware that I could choose feelings that were more productive – and not wallow in feelings that increase my feelings of helpless and build resentment. I am aware that these feelings somehow massage my ego….make me feel important because I am sad.
  • 9. What questions or comments do you have?

  • My questions are – what else do you see? I know this particular emotional “set” is closely related to another waking dream I have fairly often, which is that I am trapped in a marriage where my needs will never really be met. I had this feeling recently and suddenly “Woke” to the fact that I was having the exact same feelings that I had had in my first marriage, but with a very different and much more compatible person… that I was playing an “old tape” and needed to do something about it.