My dreams have always been a great way to track my emotional health. For most of my life, my dreams were filled with all sorts of terror. I had recurring dreams that scared the fool out of me. Those turned out to be flashbacks of particularly terrifying events from my abusive childhood.
I have learned that dreams about houses are introspection dreams. Each room represents a different part of myself. The bathroom is the most private part of myself, closely followed by my bedroom. When I analyze the rooms, including colors and what is located inside of them, and combine that with my emotional reaction, I learn a lot about my progress in healing from child abuse.
Last night, I had the most amazing dream that drives home just how far I have come. I went to visit my childhood home, which is where much of the abuse took place. Parts of the house looked like my true childhood home. The basement looked the basement of an abusive family friend’s house, which is where my most sadistic abuse took place. One room looked like a room in my grandmother’s house. The rest of the house was purely from my imagination.
All of the rooms reeked of the 1970’s, which is when I was abused. Everything was that awful olive green, orange, and brown. Yuck.
The dream began with me in the entranceway, checking out the old house. This part did not look like any house I ever lived in. I realized just how beautiful the house itself was if we could just give it a facelift. I imagine what the walls would look like if I painted them a soft green, and I realize that this house could be beautiful.
In the den, most of the toys were suspended from the ceiling, which I thought was a real shame. Why buy all of these toys and not allow a child to play with them? There were some toys on the floor, but most of the fun was still denied me.
I moved to the basement, which is where my most sadistic abuse took place at someone else’s house. The staircase spiraled downward (which is unlike any of the real houses), but I was able to reach the perspective of exactly what the basement looked like when it happened, except that there was a fireplace with a fire in it on top of where the abuse happened. A spark flew out and caught something on fire on a table. I tried to put it out in a leisurely manner. The flame would grow and then subside. My sister got concerned, but I was not – I knew I had it under control. I never got frightened as the flames grew, and then, sure enough, I put them out, just as I knew I would.
I examined other parts of the house and found small windows that I could have used as escape hatches as a child. I found one room that I did not remember. It was in the middle of the house, but my husband told me it was the attic. I do not know what that represents.
We went outside (sister, husband, and me), and I examined the toys outside. There was an old swing that looked ugly (the chains were painted white), but it was still functional. I marveled over how well toys used to be built back then. Alongside the driveway were some swings. I had trouble getting on one, but then I got on another, stretched out on my back, and enjoyed the feeling. I would spin slowly in one direction and then the other, and it felt amazing. I took a last look at the house and said, “It isn’t an attractive house, but I guess I can understand why my mother wanted it.”
I woke up feeling a lot of anxiety, but during the dream, I really was okay. I can definitely see improvement.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt
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