Posts Tagged ‘dissociation’


the words I love you
— involuntary sobbing —
parenthood is raw

Plenty of striking dreams last night, but I have stuck with the most emotional image. I’ve forgotten the context, but I found myself embracing a small boy as the words ‘I love you’ came from my lips without the slightest forethought. It was just like being sick or ejaculating or any involuntary process where the body itself takes over and decides what’s happening. At the same time, there was also no dissociation so I believed the words and the emotion of love. It was an inescapable conclusion that the small boy was my son, although in real life I have (as far as I know) no offspring at all. I am preparing currently in waking life, a talk on the subject of spirituality and mental health. My own personal understanding of the word spirituality has been strongly influenced by Jung’s Septem Sermones at Mortuos, where spirituality and sexuality are paired. But why would I want to turn my talk into a Jung lecture? So yesterday it struck me that I could say something much simpler and more universal. Surely it’s universal, the same for everyone, that Love has both a spiritual and a sexual aspect? I suspect my dream last night expresses the impossibility of knowing whether love comes from the body or from the spirit. It obviously can come from both at once. And yet the distinction seems to be one that we are all predisposed to find.


gender boundary

white underpants flecked
with blood — somebody’s severed
penis on the bed
— too late — my own sacrificed
manhood begging to be claimed

My best effort with an impossible subject. Gender reassignment was something I considered seriously for about six months in 1990 — finally letting go the idea on the basis that, as a woman, I would look ridiculous because I’m six foot two. The poem describes the dream. The blood on the underpants implies menstruation: so maybe in the dream I have become a woman in some way that goes beyond the gender reassignment available in reality. My main worry, awake, is that in the dream I felt nothing. So the literal severing of the penis seems to find a parallel in the splitting off of my feelings (dissociation). Yesterday somebody described to me his experience of witnessing, as a twelve-year-old, a variety of gruesome scenes involving dismembered limbs and massacred bodies. Oddly enough, although I might normally worry whether I’m capable of showing enough empathy in such a conversation, I felt on this occasion that my empathy had been good. Maybe the dissociation in the dream relates directly to the situation described to me — where, as a twelve-year-old, he said he had shrugged it off as best he could. For me though, the question raised by both dream and poem has to do with my teenage gay experience. Did I become feminized by it? Or was it on the contrary, an encounter with the essence of maleness? Did I sacrifice my manhood, or own it even more than before? Both at once, I expect.


Cambridge — where I learned
complete dissociation
from my emotions

I dreamed Prince Charles was in disguise, which he had to be, in order to take part in the life of the commoners. Awake, I remembered that he attended Cambridge University, and that yesterday I encountered some surprise when I inadvertently disclosed that I was Cambridge-educated. Not that that is any secret. I suppose Prince Charles in disguise suggested ‘somebody who can’t be themselves’. I like the simplicity of this poem, even if it’s a bit sweeping, it’s also true.