I try out for a team that demands gymnastic skills. I do a handstand, shocked by my ability and strength. I’m told to hold this position, as though I am an antenna tuned into an important station. My arms feel strong and reliable as my hands press into the earth. My feet are alive with “listening.”
Six months after my husband Vic’s death, I awakened from this dream with renewed hope. Even though my heart ached with grief and my life felt demolished, I trusted some part of me would find equilibrium in my new upside down world. Like an antenna, I was tuned to healing messages.
Since Vic’s death, I had dreamed of holding him, caressing him, searching for him, longing for him. In these early dreams, he held and reassured me, even though I often knew while dreaming that he was dead. Grieving dreams continued, but new hopeful images appeared more frequently.
A woman plays a flute while balancing on a gymnastics bar on her belly. She leads an orchestra with her feet and her swaying body. This seems impossible, yet she’s relaxed, skilled, and in control.
I wake up awed by her balancing skills. As in the first dream, a calm part of me orchestrated a new equilibrium. I trusted this steady power would thrive and grow.
I’d studied the psychologist Carl Jung and gone to workshops with Jungian teachers since the late 1960s. I worked on my dreams with a Jungian therapist. I drew and painted the powerful images. Despite my limited skills, painting and drawing soothed me and honored the healing dreams. I absorbed the message: new balance would come.
Around this time, I painted another image associated with a dream. My wedding ring was widow dark, but green shoots of new life crawled up my hand. Again, I was reassured. I would survive and eventually thrive, even though I had no idea how.
Throughout Vic’s illness and after his death, I wrote about my experiences in journals. My therapist suggested a writing class called “Writing through the Rough Spots” with Ellen Schmidt. Writing helped me uncover valuable lessons from loss and find faith in myself. Even though I sobbed when I read my pieces out loud in class, Ellen encouraged me to find a steady voice in this new world of grief.
As I dreamed, painted, and wrote, I digested what had happened and found a solid place to stand. New balance and life had been promised in dream images. When I looked carefully, I noticed it was already happening.
I thank my teachers Anthony Damiani, Marion Woodman, and Robert Bosnak for introducing me to the work of Carl Jung and teaching me the power of dreams. You might enjoy Falling in Love with Marion Woodman or Mythological Healing in Times of Crisis.