I dreamed about kittens this week. Not once, but twice.
Perhaps to the surprise of many folk, dreaming about kittens is not actually a gentle playful thing but symbolic of a fear of abandonment.
Just think about all the unwanted baby felines left in boxes, left to fend for themselves, left to become feral. Kittens are wonderful when they have a home that nurtures them into adulthood, but they can be mangy wild creatures, sad and lost when they are roaming without any mooring. Those that survive such a harsh start to life, unsheltered weathering can make them merely a shadow of what they might have been.
I suspect the dreams were triggered by feelings that bubbled away inside of me as a result of a failed coup attempt at my work - someone anonymous suggesting me and my team be moved to another division. Granted the potential move was vetoed in the end - restructure fatigue the stated reason - but I still lost sleep over the idea that it might have happened without any of the decision makers even bothering to ask me if it was the right thing to do. Me and my team have been moved five times in the last seven years. By some small mercy, a six move has been prevented.
It is fair to say that there are times when I feel like I am a foster child at work, unwanted and unloved, and moved about from one pretend parent to another. No one is really sure how to deal with the troubled child that doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, clearly scarred from the constant feeling of transience.
I suspect I may harbour much deeper abandonment issues. Sure, the momentary frenzy at work would have upset anyone, but my reactions when I first discovered by accident overhearing what was being proposed were far more emotive than 'normal'.
I recognised my response pattern immediately. I even know the exact moment in my far distant days of youth when the button inside of me was created. I was twelve years old the first time I felt abandoned. The first cut is the deepest.
A thousand paper cuts later, it was not surprising that, on the third night of intense dreaming this week, I dreamt of my ex-partner. He abandoned me for some eastern suburbs strumpet.
Sometimes the dereliction is not so desolate. Sometimes a cut lances a wound and helps what festers within it to be released, to escape, to cleanse. I figure, ultimately that particular desertion was the right thing to have happened, especially given how I felt just before it did. The poem below, called Numb, written in 2003, was the perfect snapshot:
There is a stranger
living in my home,
who keeps me
in a straightjacket.
Ambivalent; impotent; sterile.
for fear of offending.
The lack of air is suffocating.
Am caught in limbo.
Do not know how to break
this sense of dread.
It is a living death.
Am trapped below thin ice.
Can see the light.
But do not have the strength
to break through.
Yet the warmth
that can give me life
is on the other side.
Too numb to move.
Still, I struggle with a fragile heart. One that beats to a singular drum, a need to be accepted.