The Trouble With Women, Part IV: Get Out of My Head!

Perhaps the sex workshop or recent events have stirred something in my unconscious. After spending so much time discussing sexuality, relationships with women, and how the boundaries of single life change when you choose celibate life, I'm really not surprised that I had a really weird and intense dream about everything. Luckily when I woke up, I grabbed a pad and pen and started writing out what I remembered, knowing full well that someone out there might get a kick out o the irony!

The setting for this dream was a large cocktail party with lots of people milling about. I could tell from my interaction that these were people that either new me or the Capuchins, and it felt like a friary or a function that we (as an order) had put on. I don't recall any specific place, just that it felt like something we would do.

At one point in the evening, I see an "ex-interest" of mine, sitting on a couch and sipping a drink. Our eyes meet, but rather than acknowledging her, I slightly nod and continue to be social to everyone at the party. Her placement in this dream and at a Capuchin function is slightly absurd; her sense of spirituality in real life is both relativistic and completely devoid of any apparent dogma - not a match for a "good Catholic boy" like me .

But before you think you understand this dream, it gets better.

As the party continues, I begin talking to a woman that I recognize from my ministry work. Unfortunately I cannot remember her face. She doesn't stick out as any one female, rather many of the women I work with could fill the role in my dream - perhaps that's part of what she represents. I kept trying to put my finger on one person, but nothing seems to make sense.

Either way, we talk and it's apparent that we are connecting. I have feelings of excitement; I feel alive. It wasn't a feeling of: " I am sooo going to get laid tonight!" rather it was more: "I am so into this chick, and I can tell she's into me!" It was the feeling I get when I feel I've met someone I can seriously bond with, the kind of feeling that goes beyond "puppy love" but is deeper and more meaningful than lust.

Nothing became of the conversation, because the next incident I remember is going back to the kitchen after the party was over. Jon Cel, our Provincial Minister, was in the kitchen washing dishes after the party. Wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans, his usual attire, he looks up from the dishes and says: "Hey Vito. How was the party?"

In a sort-of "father to son" kind of moment, we talk with him working and me leaning against the doorway.

"Well I have good news and bad news. The good news is I had a really good time tonight. The bad news is that I think I'm falling in love." While I didn't feel anything bad about what had happened, the presence of my Provincial brought my vocation and presence to the forefront.

Jon laughs, as if remembering something of his past, and says: "Welcome to Capuchin life."

As I thought about this part of my dream, I tried to understand the meaning of celibate life even further, and really explore what I was giving up and what I was accepting. Perhaps poverty isn't just about money and things. Maybe poverty includes the ability to recognize when something great is happening between you and another human being, and being able to enjoy that connection but limiting yourself to the boundaries of your vows. It's the poverty of working with a woman that I connect to emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, but understanding that our relationship can only go so far in spite of what she or I may feel.

While this seemed to be an interesting revelation, the dream continued to another part.

Jon replies: "Well, I do have some other bad news. It looks like Amanda (named changed for obvious reasons) has been spreading some vicious stories about the Order. I'm not sure what her issue is, but she's obviously not happy with us."

This was a real twist in my thinking. Why would someone say bad things about us, we who spend so much time working with the poor, the homeless, and those other outcasts of society? Almost immediately I caught up with her in the parking lot and starting firing questions at her.

"Do you know what we do?"
"Do you even understand the charism that we try to live here?"
"Do you realize that we're not doing this for fame or profit?"

It was as if each question I asked was answered with an air of skepticism and even a hint of jealousy from her mouth.

"Well what do you guys do with all the money you get?"
"How do I know you all are trying to live celibacy? Why would anyone do that?"
"Who are you trying to impress by doing all this?"

It was if each question out of her mouth was a doubt, concern, or criticism I've heard so many times already. Many of those thoughts are not arguable; all they do is inflame emotions. I had no response except anger.

In my frustration I walked away from her and got into my car (no clue who's car it really was) and got ready to drive away. As I started the vehicle, I saw two men approach the vehicle (early 20's, white guys - in any violent dream, I'm always fighting white guys.), one of them had a pipe in his hand.

Rather than try to drive away, I grabbed a bottle from inside the car and opened up the door. It seemed to surprise the men, and it halted their approach to the car. I held the bottle by the neck, and tried to will myself to smash the bottle into the side of this man's head. Each time I tried, the bottle would stop at the man's cheek, as if my arm would not allow me to commit such a violent act. Through will and anger, I managed to get the strength in my arm to shatter the bottle against the man's head, and he dropped to the ground.

This is where I woke up.

There are a lot of aspects to this dream, and it's kept me thinking all day. Perhaps my subconscious is dealing with celibacy in a new way. Perhaps my presence here has begun to turn me into a new man, one with new values and a better relationship with women. Perhaps my changes, while good in my view, are seen by others as different, incomprehensible, and therefore worthy of suspicion.

Most of all, whenever I have dreams of fighting, it's often hard for me to actually hit or do damage to another person. I don't know if that's my self-esteem, my sense of humanity and non-violence, or my desire to control rage before it gets out of hand. Either way, this is not the first dream where I've been able to finally hit and wound another person in my dreams. Since coming to Milwaukee, a part of me has woken up that I have kept hidden. Some of these things are good, and some of them are bad. And in dealing with people and talking to my spiritual director, I'm trying to get to the root of some of these issues.

For now, I'm not having any secret liaisons with co-workers, nor am I violently beating on people. It's just interesting to look at dreams, remembering not only what happened, but how it made me feel.

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