floodwater dreams + empathy mgmt

I had a floodwater dream this morning, the first since I can remember. I don’t feel stressed or otherwise overwhelmed in my life, but things are about to get more full-on at uni when the subject about psychotherapeutic models begins. There was a dream before this where I had gone adventuring with a friend and we had for some reason not taken my camping gear ~ he had his, but there was a feeling that me having my gear was unimportant (not that I would cope without it, but that if I didn’t cope it wasn’t important ~ like, my needs were unimportant).

While writing about this I checked my various channels for messages and there were messages from two women friends who have been confiding in me a lot lately (about their traumas and consequent insecurities). I read these messages while significant numbers were displaying on my phone ~ 44%4:00am (first message from one friend), and 43%4:03am (message from the other friend). After reading these messages I saw a video from Bored Panda’s feed about chocolate makers who had sculpted Atlas, replete with world-symbol on his shoulders.

After the camping dream I woke up, and it was too early to get out of bed because I was still tired, but my mind was too active to sleep (thinking mostly about what uni work I will prioritise today). I eventually must have slept, until I woke from the flooding dream.

In that dream I was coasting down some really nice slopes on my bicycle. They were grassy but firm and my bike is good for those conditions. I was really hookin along, around curves and down sudden gradients, no worries. There were some muddy patches I thought would unsaddle me, but they didn’t. There were some places where water was lapping at the track. I reached the bottom of a valley and saw that floodwaters had engulfed the path ahead, brown and surging. I tried to backtrack but the waters were coming from that way now too and I was stuffed. I woke up just as the waters began to lift me.

Another question I have is about a dream that was accompanied by an experience IRL. I had been awake studying since about 3 or 4 (my typical waking hours, which I accommodate by going to be around 8 or 9), and I did my sadhana around 10 or 11, which this day included yoga nidra. I got about 5 mins into the session before I fell asleep (unusual). I slept for nearly an hour and woke up from a dream where I was asleep in a chair in an outdoor-setting on a verandah. A young girl wanted my attention from inside the house behind a sliding glassdoor, but I couldn’t make my eyes open to be present for her. It was distressing for me that I couldn’t keep my eyes open ~ I wanted to give her the attention she needed.

When I woke up and turned my phone on there was a msg from one of these friends, who for a few days had been saying she wanted to confide in me about a recent dating trauma she had experienced. The message was somewhat leading (asking what was happening for me at the time ~ she must have messaged during the time I was doing the yoga nidra and/or having the dream). Her and I identified a few months ago that we are twinflame soulmates. It’s not a romantic or sexual relationship, but we connected immediately when we met a few years ago, didn’t see each other for years, and have since reconnected and begun to notice there are distinct parallels in our lives and the paths we took independently to get where we are now.

I called her when I had composed myself from this paradoxically exhausting sadhana, and we spoke on the phone for half an hour or so, during which time she wasn’t able to express what had happened on the traumatic date, saying it was too painful to speak about. She texted me about it after we got off the phone, and it was indeed an experience that no one should allow themselves to have, calling into question all sorts of things about boundaries and in/abilities to say ‘no’.

During the phone call and immediately after, I felt profoundly exhausted and unable to take a full breath (as though I was deep in anxiety, but instead of anxiety I just felt numb and tired). I wondered if it was because I had too much coffee that morning and was having a caffeine crash. But I should have woken up restored from the yoga nidra. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when I noticed that I was once again full of beans (no pun intended) and ploughing through some uni readings, that I wondered if maybe I had picked up on what she was feeling.

I found an interesting empathy quiz the other day, and learned that, according to the model behind that quiz, I am an “authentic empath”. I’ve been wondering more and more lately about how much of what I feel is actually “my stuff” and how much is stuff I pick up from people and the environment around me. This phone-call case was especially extreme and I’m still learning how to manage the boundaries between my empathy and other people’s suffering.

I don’t know what my question is exactly. Maybe I’m just seeking validation. But if anyone has some resources about how to manage unruly empathy, I would appreciate that very much. Thank you.


featured image by Silvia Cordedda

emasculation + masculation

Dear men and women,
a question about gender roles:
specifically, “How do women feel about being ‘masculated’ in our culture?”
and, “How do men feel about being ‘emasculated’?”

Okay, that’s two questions. And there are more below.

The popular interpretation of the Samson and Delilah myth is that Samson lost his strength because Delilah had his hair cut off. This interpretation is sometimes used as an analogy for the emasculation of men that sometimes happens when traditional gender roles are conflated without conscious intention.

In an ideal world, perhaps we wouldn’t need to talk about gender, but the reality is that our gender roles have evolved over millennia and they serve important social functions. If we discard and/or conflate them with reckless abandon, each individual in a relationship could lose touch with their culturally conditioned identity and begin to suffer identity crises that can become debilitating if not consciously addressed.

I think it’s worth pointing out that while “emasculate” is commonly understood, it would seem that “masculate” has not been used since 1620, the same as everyone knows the meaning of “misogyny”, but not “philogyny”. Based on the squiggly red lines, Microsoft certainly doesn’t acknowledge even the existence of these words. Such is the unfortunately dominant nature of patriarchy in our culture.

A lot of men are painfully aware that gender-role conflation can feel emasculating sometimes, but I wonder:

how do women feel about being masculated?

This is an actual word, “masculate”, meaning “to make masculine and/or strong”.

Do women have to become ‘more masculine’ to be successful in our culture?

Is success defined in our culture in primarily masculine terms?

If so, is this why competition is valued more than collaboration?, winning more valued than supporting others to succeed?

What effect does this have on our relationships?

If we have emasculated men and masculated women (men who feel pressure to be more feminine, and women who feel pressure to be more masculine), will the children of our families develop into androgynous hybrids, or transgender ~ into beings who are biologically male or female but who identify as the other or neither?

Is all of this indicative that we are evolving into a species that transcends dualism? Or devolving into the ‘mindset’ of single-cell androgynous organisms?