Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dreams About Tigers---What They Mean To Me

I recently read an article called "Talk of Tigers/The Tiger Unveiled" and watched a video about his dream about tigers that was written by Dan L. Hays at his blog Thoughts Along The Road to Healing. I ask that you watch the video first. You will find it at the following link:


After you have watched the video, then go to the following link to read Dan's article about the dream:


Then come back here and finish reading my article. I will wait on you to return. Be sure to read the comments at the end of Dan's article and video.

Why is reading about Dan's Tiger dream so important to me? Because I have my own Tiger dream which started having sometime after my 7th birthday. How do I know how old I was? Because the house that is in my dream was the house that my grandmother lived in when I was 7 years old. She only lived there for a part of that one year.

Before I go any further, I want to tell you my Tiger dream. I have briefly mentioned it in a few of my past articles. Here it is:

I am about 7 years old and I am alone in my grandmother's house. No one else is around. I am frightened. There is a huge golden and black striped tiger walking around outside the house. As he walks completely around the house, I follow him from door to window to window watching him. He is talking to me as we both walk. He says in this really deep voice, "I am going to eat you." He keeps talking and telling me this over and over again as he walks around the house looking for a way to get inside. I make sure that each door and each window is closed and locked. I am so afraid. I don't know how long the dream goes on before I wake up terrified. I don't go back to sleep for a very long time afterwards.

I dreamed this dream quit often over the years of my childhood and young adulthood. I can't tell you when I had this dream last. It was sometimes after I started the 12-Step programs of Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics. It was always the same, never changing any of the elements of the dream. I was always terrified, even as an adult when I had this dream. I was always around 7 years old in the dream.

I know that for me to always be 7 in the dream that some kind of developmental stage stopped for me at that age. I don't know why that year is so important for me. I have always known that something monumental happened that year without knowing what it was. As I said in my comment to Dan's article, I can still see the dream in my mind so clearly after all of these years.

I never could figure out what the tiger stood for in my dream. When Dan said that his Tiger represented his rage that was buried way below the surface and was even hidden from him, I felt chills going through me. I recognised that as a truth for me as well. Dan said that the Tiger (his rage) was dangerous to him and anyone who got close to him. My rage was very much like that when I was in denial of its existence. I would suppress my rage as long as I could. Do you know how much of my energy was wasted suppressing that rage? Because of it, I was so tired all of the time for many, many years. As a young child, I knew what bone-weary tired felt like.

Dan said that his legacy of rage came from his father. I think that my dream took place in my grandmother's house because family was probably where my legacy of rage came from. My grandmother was a quiet person. My mother was in denial of all of her feelings. As a teenager, I figured out that my mother and grandmother were quietly angry with one another. I never knew why. If I had asked either one, they would have denied it. Do you know how destructive silent rage can be? I suspect that the anger had something to do with my grandfather. He died when I was 2 years old. My mother was the baby of the family and extremely spoiled and protected by her daddy. I wonder if the anger between my grandmother and mother was possibly jealousy because of that attention that my mother got from her father. All 3 are dead now so I have no one to ask about it.

The denied rage could also have come down from my grandfather and his parents. When my grandfather was just a baby, his mother left him and his father and ran off. My great-grandfather was so angry that he would never tell my grandfather his mother's name. He grew up never knowing anything about his mother or her family. When my grandfather would ask about her, his father would not answer. He refused to talk about her at all. When my grandfather was 10 years old, his father died and left him to be raised by neighbors who took him in. Since he died when I was 2 years old, I don't know if my grandfather carried the rage of his father forward into the next generation or not.

Just like alcoholism, which is rampant in my dad's family background, rage was be passed down the generations. My dad's grandfather was well known for being a mean S.O.B. He wasn't nice to his wives or children. His first wife died shortly after childbirth and he wanted to bury the baby girl with her. He apparently didn't think much of girls. A neighbor took the baby girl and raised her. His second wife divorced him and got a restraining order against him in the early 1900's. She kept the 5 children that they had together. My great-grandmother was his 3rd wife. She left him after he tried to poison her several times. When my great-grandmother died in the 1920's, both of their sons went to live with their dad. He was well-known for beating his animals also. Would you say that he probably had a rage problem too?

I know that I suppressed my own rage for many years, denying its existence in every way possible. I stuffed my feelings with food and still do to a smaller degree. I refused to acknowledge its existence. If you asked me, I would have said that I wasn't angry. Good little girls, respectful of their parents and all adults, didn't get angry, much less feel rage. My dad was a rageaholic. I knew what it looked like. I didn't want to feel that way too. It hurt too much. I didn't like my dad when he was raging. He was very abusive when he was raging. I didn't want to see myself as that way, capable of hurting myself and others that same way that my dad did.

As I have said before, I was like a pressure cooker who occasionally blew my safety valve when the stream became too great from stuffing the rage. When I was raging, like my dad, I felt no compassion for anyone. I took no prisoners. Fear was the monster that fueled my rage. Fear was also what kept me from facing my rage. I thought that anger and rage were the same thing and always very dangerous. My dad's rages were always dangerous. Rage always came with the threat of violence. For many years, I was afraid that if I let my rage out that I might kill someone with its intensity.

Except for in my dreams, I have never been afraid of Tigers. To me they are the most beautiful creature that God ever created. Have you ever seen a color more beautiful that they golden orange color of Tigers? Have you ever seen a creature more powerful and majestic than a Tiger? A Tiger reminds me of how powerful I can be as a creation of God. A Tiger bows down to no man. A Tiger is a victim to no one.

A Tiger, to me, represents the strength that I needed to overcome the effects of incest on my life. I have pictures and a small stuffed Tiger to remind me of the beauty and power of Tigers. As Dan said, Tigers spend most of their lives alone. I can relate to that also in that I have felt alone for much of my life, separated from others because of the lack of trust and fear of abandonment that I lived with for so many years because of the incest.

Thank you, Dan Hays, for your video and article on your Tiger dream. Dan and I have had a few conversations about the uncanny similarities between us that have come out from his sharing his Tiger dream. I look forward to reading more of Dan's blog articles and future discussions. I look forward to reading Dan's book The Tiger Unveiled when he finishes writing and getting it published.

Dan also has a Radio show called "Minute to Freedom" with Dan Hays that you can find at the following link:


I haven't listened to any of the radio programs yet, but I am excited to hear them soon. Now I am off to read some more of Dan's blog articles. I hope that you will join me. Have a glorious day of exploring your world.


Alene said...

The amount of energy tied up in anger can be used to power so many of our ambitions, dreams and aspirations, if we can learn ways to let go of the anger, to heal from it, and to put it in it's place, harness it in a way that is positive and productive. That's the challenge. The energy that fuels rage could light up the world if it could be put to good use.

We don't learn early enough how to manage anger, we usually end up stumbing around in the dark with our anger until weare fortunate enough to experience something that awakens us.

Anger is what brought me to your blog in the first place, and this topic of tigers and rage is so fitting for the issue/person that brought me here.

I had never heard of Dan before but I will be listening to him in the future. Thank you, Patricia, for another insightful blogpost that opens the doors to more healing resources.

Patricia Singleton said...

Alene, you are welcome. I know that you will like what you find on Dan's blog and the radio clips.

I agree with everything that you said about anger. As much anger as there is in the world could probably be used for electricity to light up the entire world several times over if we could learn to harness it. I constructive way that I use my anger is in my writing. I am glad that you are a part of my online community.

Shen said...

The similarities between your story and Dans are remarkable. As you know, I also have a tiger symbol in my life. As wrote the about the "Lady or the Tiger" story at my blog, this story has always symbolized my father. I never knew what i would get when he came home - the gentle nurturing lady or the feroscious tiger.
Over time, the tiger came to symbolize me. I didn't think of it as "rage" as Dan describes it. To me it meant "Strength". It doesn't mean I will never be "the lady". Instead, I have tried to integrate the two... they feel like one and the same to me. Two sides of the same coin, two indespensible parts of me.

I am learning to embrace every part of me. This is a pretty new thing for me. It's something I've been saying for some time - kind of a "fake it until you make it" thing. I wanted to believe that I could learn acceptance...
but quite recently it has really started to sink in.
I am okay. Every aspect of who I am is okay. Every painful, wonderful, crazy moment of my life is okay. I need every aspect of it to be me... even the tiger.

Patricia Singleton said...

Shen, you said, "Every aspect of who I am is okay. Every painful, wonderful, crazy moment of my life is okay. I need every aspect of it to be me...even the tiger." I really like that and it is so true for all of us. Acceptance of who we are is so important to our recovery.

me as i am said...

hi patricia, i just went and commented on dan's blog. shen had told me about his post awhile back, but i hadn't read it. thank you for *intsructing* your readers to go and read it. i might not have done so otherwise.

i think i actually might have been subconsciously avoiding it :)

because i now see how highly relevant all this is to me and my life. especially now that i've read your post. not only did i have a very similar dream (which i described it in my comment to dan if you want to read it) but my life has many parallels to yours.

in the book "women who run with the wolves" there is a chapter on the predator. how we may have dreams with an image of some sort of predator, a dark figure or beast. and she points out that the predator doesn't just exist in society, but in the psyche of each person. we're all capable of rage and fear and hurting others.

and her advice, i think, is instead of running from it, hiding, or pretending or avoiding or suppressing, to face it. face our inner demons. because there is power there too. we can transform that energy. keeping it all silent and pent up with shame and buried in the shadow of denial just makes us direct it at ourselves or misdirect it at others. makes us feel more out of control, even though what we're trying to do is to feel in control.

you, dan and shen have given me a lot to think about. thank you, each of you~

wishing you well today and always, patricia~~~

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, Shen, and Dan, I believe that we are all on this journey together for a reason. We each hold our individual pieces of a much bigger puzzle that we call Life. Put all of our smaller pieces together and we get a much bigger perspective than we each see alone. I thank each of you for helping me to better understood my own small piece of the puzzle.

Katie, I read Women Who Dance With Wolves a few years ago when a friend of mine gave a class on it. As with all of the books that I read, I learned more about myself and how I work inside. I think I will put it on my list of books to reread.

I have my own black panther dream as well. In my dream, I found myself face-t0-face with two black panthers. They were offering me protection and strength. For a short while they were my totem animals. At that time I needed their strength and protection. Your comments are very important to me. They help me to see clearer and to discover parts of me that I haven't been willing to look at in the past or need to revisit. Thank you.

April_optimist said...

For years I was terrified of my anger. When I was finally willing to sit with it, it lost so much of the terror because I could see how it protected me, how I could choose to shape it or even--perhaps--let it go. Anger can protect me when I use it to set boundaries and speak up for myself.

I watch my daughter and envy her ease with anger. Last week she shouted at her father--and got him finally to listen and now they are moving into a new level of healthy closeness they did not have before.

I love that for you tigers are an image of rage. I think they are beautiful, too. \

Anonymous said...

Patricia -
I am amazed at the threads we're exploring here! Rage, tigers, dreams, incest or abuse, all of it! I love that Shen talked about her Lady or the Tiger story on her blog, and how the tiger symbolized her father.

And then Katie adds a similar dream, only with a black panther. WOW - and then talks about the predator concept! How that is something inside us that needs to be confronted! Here is a link to the article I just contributed about my rage/tiger:


The editor wanted to show that some men are actually confronting their anger, rather than just passing it along. I had a therapist one time say she wasn't afraid of my anger, and of me expressing it in front of her. The thought I had was I wondered how she would feel about that remark if I threw an office chair and smashed her picture window with it! My anger/rage doesn't come out gently, and I have had to be careful - I absolutely have had to confront it, but careful to do it in appropriate ways!

I am enthralled with this whole conversation, and can't wait to see how it expands next!

me as i am said...

hi patricia~ how interesting that you had a signficant dream of a black panther. i think often animals are in our dreams to reflect our deepest feelings and instincts. things from or related to our core.

and i'm so glad you appreciate my comments. i feel the same way about your blog and comments. that's part of what i think is so wonderful about human connection, that with one another we can reach deeper levels of understanding and growth. we spark insight and reflection and identification in each other. we can do so much on our own. but we can do so much with each other too.

and speaking of that, i like how you put it that you, i, shen, and dan are all on a journey together holding different puzzle pieces. how beautiful~

hugs to you :)

Patricia Singleton said...

April, I, too, spent years terrified of my anger. My daughter feels safe enough to get angry with me and express that anger quit often. I thankfully didn't teach her that "good little girls don't get angry." Tigers are beautiful.

Patricia Singleton said...

Dan, thanks for sharing your magazine article. It will be later tonight before I have time to read it.

I too have had to control my rage in the past. I was so afraid of hurting someone else that I stuffed it inside and allowed it to hurt me instead with resulting health problems---ulcers, migraines, and high blood pressure. I am still learning to express my anger before it reaches the rage stage. I yell when I get angry even today.

My dad and grandfather taught me that rage could be violent and dangerous. I am glad that we are all having these conversations about tigers, panthers and rage. It is good to bring these thoughts out into the open.

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, thank you. I do believe in the interconnectedness of all of us and our journeys.

Colleen said...

I too was afraid of my anger. I tried to teach my boys how to deal with anger in a healthy way. I used to think that anger was BAD. Finally someone told me that anger was not bad. It is what we do with the anger that matters. That helped me a lot.
I mentioned you in my blog today, Patricia. Blessings!

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, thank you for your comment and for the link from your blog. You are growing so much right now. I know how it feels to be tired of spending so much time in the darkness of abuse and anger. From my experience the only way out of the darkness is to go through it. There is a light on the other side.