In another nightmare that’s stayed with me, I was in a field at the bottom of a hill with my oldest sister (6 years older than me). I was about 10. In the distance was a fire. She was standing behind me with her arms around me. At first it was for protection, then it became about holding me down. A man with a fire hose started spraying all over the place, and the hose got out of control.
I broke away from my sister and ran past a bush. A man with a huge hook nose leaped out of the bush at me. He was a priest. I ran up the hill to my parent’s house. Inside, they were having a party, but it was only men, my father’s friends. I remember thinking “no wonder I didn’t realize, he’s my father’s friend”. I woke up in a sweat.
Often my nightmares would be that I’d be somewhere with my family, and I’d just be left out. Nobody would care about me. I’d be alone and scared in a crowd of people laughing, enjoying themselves. Nobody cared. I’d move from one person to the other. They wouldn’t see me or they’d ignore me, or they’d laugh at me.
It was all about the reality of my psyche, and whether I was being threatened with guns and knives or just being excluded my conflict and disempowerment always made my nightmares vicious. I’d wake up exhausted from the battlefied of them. Sleep wasn’t my friend. Plus I had nocturnal epilepsy. No respite, not when I was awake, not when I was asleep.
Even when I changed therapists, and came to be with the one who has helped me turn things around so much, at first the nightmares continued. Gradually, as my self esteem healed and I began to experience what it was to have unconditional love in my life, my nightmares changed. I began to be the driver in the car, I began to have some small amount of money if I was in a strange land, I could get to the window or door and almost close it, somebody in the crowd would notice me.
My dreams still turned into nightmares, but something was shifting, very slowly, over years, as I learned about my ego states, how to differentiate the natural me from the conditioned one, how to express my emotions and meet my needs, and how to be vigilantly aware of my inner dialogue. As I faced the choices I was making about giving it authority or not.
Then one night I had a dream where I was in a threatening situation but I was able to make the right choice to protect myself. The first one in my life. It was about 6 months ago. I’ve had many nights lately when I don’t remember my dreams any more, and I haven’t woken up feeling like I spent the night on a battlefied.