Is this a dream or reality?
A warning: This post discusses partially traumatic memories and dreams, involves brief mention of assault and abuse. I have the moral and ethical responsibility to forewarn my readers that reading this post could trigger some uncomfortable feelings especially if you have a history of abuse. If you have any history of trauma, emotional or sexual abuse, please consider reading this post very carefully. If you decide to read and it triggers some uncomfortable feelings, I encourage you to talk with someone you feel close or talk to a therapist.
I have a recurring dream that comes back to me in different shapes and forms.
Last night I had one those, and I thought its time to write about it, finally.
It is not easy for me to write about this. But I know writing will help me to process and it will get easier eventually. (Quite a paradox, huh.)
In my dream, I am in a closed space, a building I guess ,as I remember being entrapped in a space. As I went down the corridors of this place. I remember it being quite dark and quiet, kind of very spooky.
I usually have the same dream in different settings, once I was in a large room with doors on both sides, and the door were made of glass...(meaning I was not able to hide) In all these dreams, someone is following me and I am not able to escape or hide from that person in these enclosed places. Somehow this person always catches up to me.
I can't exactly recall the incident yet I remember I got assaulted by this person. I don't exactly remember how, but I recall being very ashamed, violated so I believe there is a sexual component to this assault.
Then I remember seeing my father in the dream and telling him about this assault, that I am attacked and harmed. I remember him telling me that he will investigate this issue further and going away physically in the dream.
I remember getting very upset with him, because I don't recall him accepting the abuse or even acknowledging it. I felt like it was brushed away and he was ashamed of me, that I was attacked and somehow this was my fault.
The emotional core of the dream was rage and underlying disappointment when he went away with the excuse "to investigate it" and I knew in the dream that he was not coming back when he went away.
Deep down my disappointment was getting very hard to deal with... I remember thinking: "aren't' you suppose to protect me as my father?"
"aren't you suppose to believe me when I tell you that someone harmed me?"
"what do you need to investigate?? I already told you."
"I need you be there for me and believe me, when I tell you I am assaulted."
The dream usually ends with him leaving, and me trying to deal with a bunch of feelings underlying my anger towards him, alone.
Well, quite a dark dream, huh? So many things go on here, so let's look deeper at each one of them, one thing at a time.
What does this dream represent?
A little disclaimer, I am well-used to thinking about my dreams, as my therapist used to ask me to bring some dreams to discuss in our sessions and I always like to think about the deeper meaning of dreams with her. She used to help me see some patterns and how my unfinished psychological business or unprocessed feelings keep coming up in my dreams.
I kind of support Freudian view that dreams are representations of our unconscious mind and shows deeper insights to our psychological functioning. As Freud used to consider them "the royal road to the unconscious".
It is also important to mention here that the last book I was reading, The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom has it's seven last chapters dedicated to importance of dreams and how to use them in psychotherapy. The need to use of dreams in psychotherapy are well-known, and he reiterates them in the book as "they (the dreams) represent an incisive restating of the patient's deeper problems, only in a different language -- a language of visual imagery."
Exactly. So, let's take a "Freudian" approach and think for a second on what does this dream represent.
A lot actually.
I haven't explicitly spelled it out before in my blog, or outside my very close circle, but I am estranged from my father for a couple years now. We had on and off periods of contact, but there are times when we have not spoken to each other for years.
I have written many letters to him, some of them I sent and some other ones at times like when I really wished to see him, like on his birthday last year (read here) or when we first came to Canada (read here) and I have written many others that only I have access to.
My father has been one of the most important figures of my life. He has been one my strongest supporters ( for a long while ) and someone that I deeply respected and loved.
You might be rightfully wondering why someone would decided to cut contact with their father, someone they speak highly and loved much and sadly there is no easy answer to this.
I guess all I can say is, if a relationship comes down to choosing one's self or the relationship, then you have to make a decision.
I know family estrangement is a big taboo and that is the exact reason why I have never talked about it openly, except my husband, therapist and a few close friends. I was ashamed of not talking to my father. I was ashamed that something was deeply wrong with me that I decided to cut contact with a close family member, who deeply hurt me.
When family hurts you, the family who is suppose to be close to you no matter what, who should love you under all circumstances, and who should support you against all evils - it changes you.
It changes you because you can not tell many people that you decide to cut contact with family. Most people will tell you that "they are family" and shrug of their shoulders, as if it means they are allowed to hurt you and you are suppose to endure it. Some people will dismiss you and others will feel just pity.
It is a lose-lose situation to talk about it, in my experience. That is why it is a deeply alienating experience when you decide to cut contact with family. You just not only lose your family connections, this decision also cuts a certain bond between with you and other people who seem to have "good" family relationships on the surface. and that is A LOT of people.
It leaves you like an alien, from another planet. And shame loves being an alien. It creeps in and eats your soul.
My therapist reassured me (I don't know how m