I told a psychologist about four or five years ago that I do not dream anymore, and if I do, I don’t remember them. I can say that the state of my dream life hasn’t changed much.
Last night I had a dream and I remember it mostly. The dream did not come to any conclusion because I was woken up by a ‘charlie horse.’
At first I thought it was a fun but weird dream. I had not thought of a hint or perhaps myself talking to me, until I was driving down highway 5, going home from running my dear youngest child to her appointment. Something, I’m thankful I won’t be doing much longer. She is getting the Subaru, and I am getting a PT Cruiser. A beautiful blue PT Cruiser. I will post a picture when I actually have it. Not that this information has anything to do with my dream, but I am so impressed with this car. It’s probably the lowest mileage car I’ve ever owned.
Anyway, back to my dream. It was interesting. I’d gotten a job as a nanny. A job I would never take in real life, not now. I’ve raised my kids, and I want and need a break. I became a nanny to maybe an 18 month or so toddler, who was behind developmentally.
The baby was behind in her growth because her parents were not caring for her properly. She should have been walking, or at least trying. She should be sitting up, and babbling away. She was all smiles, but she did not make any attempt to roll over, play with her feet, get up, walk, or babble. This child who should be at the very beginning of taking her place in the family and figuring out how to get things done to her satisfaction was still pretty much a smiling but helpless infant. It was my job to bring her up to speed developmentally, and to protect her. I have no idea who she needed protection from except maybe her parents.
I was about to pick this beautiful baby up. I just so wanted to hold her. She was just irresistible. But, then I love babies. There are two stages in (my) a child’s life that are my favorite. The baby stage, and the grown up stage. LOL. LOL When *MY* kids are in the grown up stage. They get to walk through their hard stuff, and I get to cheer them o when they come out the other side. I have learned over the years that I can never really stop being mom, but being friend as well, can be introduced with care. I probably made the that particular transition best with my youngest. But, then… I really never had a chance with my oldest, she was stolen from me years, and years ago. [And a note to my mother, if she happens to be reading this: Yes, she has survived this, but it doesn’t mean that she is “okay” — and it sure as hell proved that you were NOT right.]
On my way home this morning, it dawned on me that maybe my dream was a message to me. Maybe it was a sort of instruction.
Back in 1993 or so, I was in some really, really heavy therapy. The goal then was more about my kids. How could I make myself healthier so that I’d see danger coming before my family was hurt. To do this, I had to, I felt, educate myself about everything and anything that comes into the sphere of childhood sexual assault (or in short form, “molest”)
It was during this time that I discovered just what Domestic Violence was and that I was living with it every single day and had lived with it almost all of my childhood. I basically learned the names of, and definitions of a whole set of messy things that exist in the world, and in my world. I was in my early 30’s when all this information came into my consciousness. I look back now, and it seems as if I were cramming for a final. Probably from the school of hard knocks.
Eventually, I learned about art therapy. I thought I’d give it a try. I enjoyed coloring before it was ‘cool’ for meditations. I made collages. Sometimes I made collages of things I enjoyed and sometimes I tried to explore a specific theme. But, no matter what I was doing the bottomline was a very targeted goal. What experiences, what people, what culture — the who, what and why of what I am deep down inside is what I was trying to work out. Why was my little girl a target, what weakness did I show that allowed anyone to take advantage of who we were.
Some of my questions were answered and some were not. Lucky for me, the brain never quits. I am a curious person who likes to learn. I want to know what goes on in the world, especially in my little world.
While in the art therapy mode, I did a LOT of journaling. I mostly used the ‘free thought association’ (I think, its been a long time since I’ve used this language). Occasionally, I’d get an image in my mind and I’d draw it and/or color it. I’d put it aside or in my note book.
Two images come to mind now. Both of them were done in black and white. There was no color. Both seemed to be associated with the same situation. One was a black monster with many arms. It was black with a beak. Today, I’d say it was a squid with an octopus head, a very black squidopus. hehe. My artwork is on a 4th grade level. For me the ‘monster’ came out pretty well. The message I took away was that I felt there were many arms around me. I’ve never really understood it, but thought it would mean something eventually.
The second image was drawn after some very physical therapy. My father was dead already, I could not ask him questions. My mother had basically booted me out of the family. I was angry that I had been treated so poorly as a child. In the therapy, I put a t-shirt on a chair and screamed obscenities at it will I punched it. A safe way to have a temper tantrum. I worked myself into exhaustion, and laid down on the couch. I was very relaxed, and I have never believed I was asleep. I had a dream– I was in my white crib, looking around my bedroom. I remembered what the curtains looked like. In this ‘dream’ or probably in the ‘memory’ I was big enough to stand in the crib. I later asked my mother about the details of my room. She confirmed for me that I had remembered right.
Sometime later, I had a similar ‘dream’ or ‘memory’ — and then drew a picture of it.
There was a helpless baby, all swaddled up tightly. The baby was wiggling and could not break free of it’s cocoon of flannel. There was a feeling that the baby was not liking what was happening to her. Something wet and warm kept hitting her face. It made her feel as if she might be smothering, and yet, all she could do was squiggle in her fortress of flannel. In the dream stood a man that I identified as an uncle. My then husband, not in the dream, and not even in the house while this was going on, decided that I had my uncle confused with my father. I knew I had not confused anyone. But as a young, young person there is a chance that maybe I wasn’t ready to see my father in that place.
I have interpreted this already. In the past I have interpreted it in two different ways. If it is a memory, then I as a baby did not understand what was going on. I am sure that while I could not name fear, I certainly felt it. I questioned if what had happened was a form of sexual assault. Or maybe just a little boy experimenting. I may never know. What I do know is that it was a very uncomfortable experience for me.
Fast forward to last nights dream whose dream theme was similar to that explained above. A baby, a helpless baby. Only this time, I was there to work on making things better. In light of the past work I have done, including some work that I am doing now in a PTSD group, and in individual therapy – I have come to the conclusion that those dream memories from the past are connected to last nights dream.
I knew last night, in the dream that I was going to have to take up the baby, and help her learn to sit up, and stay sitting. I’d probably have to put her feet in her hands to help her realize she had some toes to play with. She needed to learn to crawl, to become curious enough to want to climb, and to take her first steps.
Maybe, once I have supported the baby enough, and she feels safe enough, and realizes that exploring life can be a fun and happy thing, maybe then she will share with me what is inside her. So, now it is time to talk to this baby at her level, on her terms, with quietness, confidence, and a loving tone. Maybe I just need to lead the baby down her path and protect her from all the things she was/is afraid of.