Cry The Beloved Country


It’s 3 a.m.

I recently joined a Dream Analysis group in order to expand my knowledge about what Freud called “the royal road to the unconscious”. During last night’s group I offered two dreams I had had the previous night in an effort to explore what had left me feeling anxious throughout the day.

A bit of context may be useful before I describe the dreams. I live in an area that has been plagued of late by numerous burglaries, while I am not particularly attached to my material goods, I am worried about leaving my daughter and her caregiver in the house during the day. This worry is only vaguely ameliorated by panic buttons, armed response, security gates and two particularly docile basset hounds.

On my way to work I had listened to yet another report of a violent sexual attack on a young woman who had passed away as a result of her injuries. I was filled with deep despair and a now familiar helpless rage as I contemplated the violence and ignorance which ravages much of our collective psyche. The powerful feelings built rapidly and I wept as I thought about the horror she must have endured, about my own daughters and how vulnerable and blissfully unaware they are in what feels  to be a country drowning in violence, greed, poverty, apathy and ignorance.

I parked my own swirling fear and anger  as I sat down with my first client and gently helped them unpack their own. I have been a midwife for others trauma for many thousands of hours and have become proficient at separating out my own internal struggles from those of my clients (which does not exclude the ability to resonate deeply with their experience). At the conclusion of my work day, I have to shift gears once again in order to accommodate  the duties and concerns of householder, father and husband, to separate the sometimes traumatic content of my work from my gentle family… but as my conscious mind dims and surrenders to sleep, my defenses wink out and a whole new landscape unfolds.

I am asleep but awake in a dream. I am in my bed asleep when I become conscious of a noise. It is a very specific noise. It is the sound of a carjack wedged between burglar bars stretching them open. I’ve never heard the sound before but I have never been more certain of anything. My eyes snap open into darkness and I am immediately flooded with terror, not for myself, but for my family. I realize that I have woken up exactly as I did in the dream, I can still hear the sound in my mind.

I am asleep again. I awake in the middle of a choppy ocean. The sky is a dispassionate grey, I am perched precariously on a very small surfboard struggling to hold my balance. I am cold. Beneath me lurk large dark, prehistoric shapes that some part recognizes as being sharks. I can taste the fear in my mouth. It is mixed with blood. I hear my daughter cry out, I paddle about furiously seeking her out before realizing that she cannot possibly be in this landscape and that I must be dreaming. I awake terrified she will be devoured.

Now without launching into an exhaustive Jungian archetypal deconstruction of the dreams, is it not possible that I, like many millions of other people in this country am afraid? Each day the fear we feel on both a conscious and unconscious level  is repressed and denied by our ego.  The sacred spaces of this country are being plundered and defiled on an hourly basis and my heart is heavy with grief and fear. What I repress during the  day will visit me in some other way and it falls to me to  acknowledge honestly the powerful feelings that are moving within me, to take responsibility for what I feel instead of projecting my helpless rage and fear onto those who will never know, nor care what I feel and to  empower myself and those I serve. My family, my community and myself. I am still confused as to how to make a meaningful contribution to the healing of this country, even if I never live long enough to see a change.

The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.

 

About the author

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Jamie Elkon http://shrinkrap.co.za/

The author can be found rummaging through life looking for nourishment in the early hours of the morning. He is slowly going sane by using his actual life and relationships to wake up.He lives in Cape Town with his teenaged daughter, two bassett hounds named Thelma and Louise and Digit... the cat. He hugs trees, has experienced numerous dark nights of the soul, collects incorrect Chinese packaging and tracks curious things to their lair.

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