If hearing about other people's dreams makes you antsy (what, you don't like free guidance from the spirit realm?) then this isn't the post for you. However, if you trust that I wouldn't share a dream- just an excerpt, really- unless there was some value in it for you, then read on.
I found myself, as you do in the dream world, suddenly standing at a folding table coffee station in of those greyly modern 80s conference halls. On the table was a quaint set up of hot plates, glass diner carafes, and a basket of individually packaged thimbles of cream. I didn't see anyone else around and my mission was not yet clear, so I poured myself the last of the coffee.
I suppose that's exactly what I was meant to do because that’s when she appeared- exasperated from the start- looking for the coffee I’d just polished off. 80s Mom.
She had a frosted blond bob and a pastel sweatshirt layered ( it might've even been the kind with a fake polo collar) over a pastel turtleneck, both of which only managed to accentuate her surliness.
Well obviously- to me- her surliness was my fault. She wanted coffee, I'd finished the coffee. I created a problem, and now it was my job to fix it. She didn't say a word, but I knew. I knew!
This thought pattern was so automatic that I didn't notice it until picking apart my dream the next day
Casting about for solutions, I noticed a bulbous pot of decaf (indicated by the universally recognized orange handle) beside the empty coffee carafe. It was half full.
Poof- the light bulb over my head switched on.
‘Heyyyy- I could give you half of my coffee and then we could both top off with that decaf?’ I ventured, pleased with what seemed to be a win-win. Even more pleased that I'd proposed a solution before she'd even asked, that I'd not only understood the assignment, but also anticipated it.
‘Fine’. So she was less impressed, no problem. I passed my paper cup to her (with an appeasing grin) anyway.
That's when things got weird.
The moment her hand was around my cup, it started to shake violently, splashing scalding coffee all over herself and the industrial carpeting below.
I asked if she was okay, got another terse reply, AND THEN watched with dismay as she began to pour, hand still shuddering wildly, and transferred what was left of my coffee into her cup as smoothly as if she were standing on the deck of a fishing trawler in a winter storm.
She poured until her cup was half full and mine was almost empty, then handed back the cup.
This is the point where- the next morning, wide awake and writing out this course of events- I dropped my pen and froze with my mouth open, eyes glazed over, as it dawned on me that this- THIS- was the whole point of the dream (the scenes that followed- of a mall where instead of escalators there were steep ramps that you had to run and get momentum to clear- were potent too, but just for me).
This was the message from Spirit.
I had to write it out to see it. Mulling it over in my head just wasn't enough.
In my Somatic Guided Drawing group sessions, there's a part towards the end where we look at what we scribbled in a semi-hypnotized state and translate the message of it with our conscious minds. I think writing down dreams works similarly, connecting impressions that occurred in the more subconscious brain regions with the logical, analytical regions. Whatever the reason, writing down my more bizarre dreams has led to some profound insights.
So what was the insight here? Let's just say that coffee wasn't really coffee....
I've been facing the enormous feelings of depletion and neglect that come of extending emotional labor to those who can't reciprocate (or shouldn't have to, like my daughter). I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Taking care of people who don't take care of you, extending patience and empathy to people who just can't do the same, giving more than you receive. It adds up. Combine that with other stressors and it can add up quite quickly.
In my dream, I was given a visual of this happening that I won't soon forget- my precious, scarce energy (what better symbol than coffee?) splashing into space, treated so carelessly that most of it ended up sinking into the cheap, polypropylene carpet.
It’s a sometimes unbearable position to be in, giving and giving with both hands and then getting back a cup with a few droplets in it- not even a 'wow, thanks' or 'oops, did you need that?'.
But you know what I often find- with so many of my clients as well as myself?
Too often, when someone mishandles our energy, we give them more! A person clearly demonstrates, loudly and clearly, that they aren't able to reciprocate and for some reason this triggers a desire to give even more- often in the hope that if we just give enough, they'll be inspired to follow our depleted-but-otherwise-basically-saintly example. What we're actually doing, of course, is demonstrating, loudly and clearly, that we value our life force so much that we give it away for free, even to people who squander it.
This originates in childhood patterns where your worth was based on how much you gave and, often simultaneously, how little you asked for or expected in return. This was when you were noticed and appreciated, this was how you got the cuddles that you craved or, in the worst cases, how you avoided being singled out for abuse.
So now our mental, emotional, and physical selves are chasing each other's tails, trying to get what they need with one hand, while giving it away with the other. Again and again, we're drawn to people who take more than they give because by revisiting childhood patterns, we hope to master them and change their course- this time the other person will notice our sacrifice, this time they'll be moved to give something back.
But every time, the coffee ends up in the carpet. It's like Groundhog Day.
And here's the lesson of the dream: don't hand over your cup!
While the first thing that grabbed my attention was the dramatic sloshing and splashing, I only have my (dream) self to blame. I handed her my cup- my vessel of precious life force. I didn't wait for her to ask, or even to agree to my proposal. I was tripping over myself to correct an imaginary wrong. I couldn't give away my energy fast enough.
My hope is that this dream will provide you the same reminder it did for me: to shift your focus away from what you can't control- how careful or grateful other people are about the energy you invest in them- and back to the one thing you absolutely can- who you gift your precious resources to and how generously.
If you notice resentment towards certain people arising- and you know that communication won't change the imbalance in these relationships- then retrace your steps back to where you gave them what they aren't capable of truly valuing. This is the place is where the healing needs to begin.
Sit with your motivation: why you give to those who can't give back, what you hope will unfold from your generosity, how it actually unfolds..... and then, who you would be if you were- not stingy- but less loose in how you share your coffee.
As you go through this inquiry, focus lots of love and attention on the little one inside who still can't understand why they aren't receiving in proportion to their giving.
And then watch as, slowly but surely, the level in your cup begins to rise back toward the top.
Learn more about conserving and restoring your energy
in a one-on-one or group session with Olivia.