I recently posted the term “Siblings” to my blog when my brother passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago. Obviously, I have been in deep process since then and my dreams have of course been a big part of that process. I decided to share this dream with you because it illuminates two concepts. One, it exemplifies how dreams are mirroring our waking-life processes and, essentially, mirroring the daytime events in a nighttime sort of way. This is the compensatory nature of dreams; they help balance us out.
The other approach to dream work that this particular dream emphasizes is the idea that the theme of the dream is where the interpretation lays – as opposed to a symbol-by-symbol, story-about-the-story technique.
So, first some background information. I was the one of the three of us children who got all of the positive attention. And, I do mean all. It has been a deep wound of mine (and an issue for both my brother and sister) that my personality and exploits set up a scenario in which the receiving of attention was ridiculously out of balance, with me receiving most of all the good stuff that was available. I have cried many a tear of the notion that my brother might have had a better experience of his life is I had not been quite so dynamic in mine.
The other salient part of the story is that my sister is a high school art teacher. She is ridiculously gifted at this, but has often expressed (early in her career) a sense of limitation because she is not a more talented artist; many of her colleagues were artists first, teacher’s second. My sister is teacher first and artist second. And I do not fall subject to hyperbole when I tell you that she is magnificent at what she does; she will live on in many a student’s psyche for decades to come.
So on to the dream. My sister, brother and I were sitting around a table. My sister was accusing my brother of stealing one of her paintings. He was justifying his actions because of her lack of talent, the painting was no good anyway. Suddenly, a woman who felt like she was my sister’s psychotherapist was present and I was trying to explain that my sister felt inadequate about her artistic talent. Her therapist became very defensive with me, which surprised me as it was not exactly a professional reaction.
I sat with this dream for days and nothing really hit me. Then yesterday, the whole thematic perspective dropped into my awareness in one fell swoop. I have been working diligently at recognizing that I deserve to utilize all my gifts and that having them did not actually take away from the experience of my brother. That I was the perfect child and he was the black sheep was actually NOT MY FAULT!!! What a revelation, because of course in my deep unconscious I felt terrible shame and guilt that the more attention I got out in the world, the guiltier I was for the challenges my bother was facing.
What the dream showed me was that what I was feeling was universal. ALL brothers and sister struggle with these sorts of dynamic and mine was no different than anyone else’s. My guilt and shame is my guilt and shame to work out on my own. My brother’s passing doesn’t mean I look at this and suddenly think, “Oh, I’m REALLY to blame here.” It’s actually a moment to do the opposite. To own my own life and choices, to allow my brother to do the same and to move on with grace and easy, being grateful for all the beauty of my brother and releasing and forgiving any element of our connection that was painful.