Hi Jim -

Congratulations on your six months of sobriety. I know it feels great to have that addiction off your back. Keep up the good work!

Your dream may sound confusing to you - but I think it is full of good news. As you correctly identify, one of the steps in the AA program is to let go of any resentments you have that are left over from your days of drinking. Your dream clearly shows anger and resentment - heck, you tell off your whole school and even get to smack that guy who especially used to bug you - but I think it also shows a lot of progress.

First of all, consider that everything you’re doing in the dream is positive in the sense that you’re really sticking up for your self. In the dream you are speaking up to all those people who - most likely in the past - you did not speak up to. You tell us that you used to get picked on a lot in high school. It probably drove you crazy not to be able to stand up for yourself and get those people to respect you. In fact, it may have been one of the issues that drove you to drink, as a lack of self-respect is always a factor in alcoholism. So in my book, even though you’re angry and blowing up at everyone - I still think this is a positive aspect of your dream. It shows your self-respect - now that you’ve been sober for six months - is starting to return to you. You aren’t going to put up with a bunch of people picking on you, or telling you what to do.

On the other hand, did you notice that several people from your AA group are mingled in with that crowd from your high school? This part of your dream suggests that occasionally you feel resentment toward them as well, which - given the rigors and demands of the 12 step program - is hardly surprising. Step 4 requires a “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Step 5 asks us to “Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” It’s not easy hanging our dirty laundry in public - in that group setting of AA - but it’s one of the ways we learn to become honest about our pasts. If you want to examine resentments that you hold - you may want to start here. You may feel that members of your group are “picking on you.” If you do, then I think you need to remember that, while you may like some members more than others, in the long run everyone is there to help you.

In the next part of the dream you meet up with a guy who used to treat you very badly in high school. And what do you find? After all these years, he’s still taunting you! Lo and behold, you immediately find a weapon shaped like a belt buckle (symbol of masculinity and manhood) and you hit him over the head several times with it. Some people might caution you about your anger - which is always a valid piece of advice - but in this scenario I think you did a great job! It’s about time you took care of that clown.

Finally, at the end of your dream, you are speaking with your father, which you say is unusual in real life. You are confiding your problems to him, and you are finding a supportive ear. You tell him you want to go to a different school. Your father says it might cause problems, but if that’s what you want to do - then he supports you.

I think this part of the dream represents your search for maturity and guidance - perhaps even from your higher power - who of course loves and supports you unconditionally. The question I have to ask you is: What is this “other school” that you want to go to? In one scenario, you may be rebelling at the self-examination process that AA is requiring you to undergo. We have already observed that the process often is uncomfortable - in which case leaving the school you are in represents a desire to leave AA and to quit the sobriety process. Your father warns it might cause problems - but if that’s what you want to do - you can.

I tell you Jim, I think you received a message from your higher power in this dream. If I were you, I would stick to your guns. You’ve already made so much progress. Stick to the sober path and keep fighting - one day at a time - for your self-respect and dignity. If you keep up the progress you have already made, pretty soon these “anger” dreams, which are a normal part of any alcoholic’s recovery, will fade away. Right now they’re part of the re-claiming your self-respect process, and I think you’re doing a great job.

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