Reading the comments I've received on my Wave Dream in Recovery post moved me to explore more the possible meanings of the big wave dream, especially as it relates to healing and recovery.
A definition caught my attention: waves stand for all the power of massive inertia.The people I know who have shared their big wave dreams with me were on the verge of making huge changes in their lives, but didn't know it yet. At least, they didn't know it consciously.
Events were happening in their lives that did not not fully appreciate. They were making decisions, developing awareness, reaching for something more authentic for their lives without realizing the consequences would be massive. Life as they knew it would change drastically.
In symbolic terms it would be like a huge wave sweeping an area clear or turning everything upside down, or both.
It's difficult, maybe impossible, to know what you do not know. It's also difficult and sometimes impossible to know what you won't let yourself know. Eating disorders are terrific for keeping self knowledge down and out. Eating disorders exert a massive power, like an invisible mass of water, that drowns much of your awareness, life force, ability to think and feel, ability to live fully.
But, if you have an eating disorder, you can get used to it. Emotional pain, anxiety, obsessive thinking, guilt, shame, fear all become part of what you consider to be your normal life. And you build your life around accommodating to your need to live with the limits of your protective shield.
If you have a full blown eating disorder you are living a life far removed from your potential. You have to. So much of your energy goes into the eating disorder itself that you haven't much left for activities that are truly fulfilling.
The "big wave dreamers" are people who start to take action, even modest action, toward what matters to them with a determination to honor themselves. They don't feel strong and brave when they do this. They often feel frightened. But their decision comes from a place deep below the powers of the eating disorder.
What will be swept away by the huge wave? A deferring, self sacrificial, bulimic wife didn't know that her decision to take classes, get training for a job or go for higher education would destroy her marriage and her current way of life. She had the big wave dream.
A woman who was lost in binge eating did not know that when she answered an ad for a volunteer position in a non profit organization designed to feed hungry children in the United States, that she would uproot her life in Los Angeles and become an advocate for deprived children across this country. She had the big wave dream.
A bulimic woman who walked into my office seeking psychotherapy for the first time for her bulimia began the appointment by telling me the big wave dream she had had several nights in a row prior to our meeting. Starting therapy with more determination than she realized meant that she planned to go the full distance from here to recovery.
She didn't know consciously the scale of change that would come about in her life, but she was touching the previously untouched "power of massive inertia" she had guarded with her eating disorder. Setting out to heal put that inertia in motion, and on rolled the waves in her dreams. And yes, over the years of her recovery work, her life did undergo big changes. I'm happy to report that her life improved in every possible way. She is so much happier now.
No one ever dies in these big wave dreams, not even by standers. I believe the emotional force of the big wave dreams are part of a practice the psyche creates so that the person is better able to tolerate big changes that will happen in her real life.