Dream sequence – part I: recurring childhood nightmares

My husband and I watched Beyond the Sea – the biographical film from Kevin Spacey based on the life of singer/actor Bobby Darin.  And it was a really great movie/musical.

According to wikipedia, “rather than providing a straightforward biography, the film weaves fantasy sequences with scenes containing somewhat fictionalize accounts of events in Darin’s life, and throughout it, the adult singer interacts with his younger self.”

It got me to thinking about my childhood, and his song “Dream Lover” had been on my mind a few times today, so I got to thinking about dreams.

I’m going to write a series of posts regarding some recurring dreams I’ve had, three different kinds.  ;=

Some of my dreams, like this one, represents the childhood stress I was under in a dysfunctional home.

Dream #1:

I used to have this recurring dream as a child of about 10 to about 12.

I would see myself as a little girl of about 3 years old, on a stage with one solitary spotlight on me. I was standing off to the left (as you would see it from the audience), and I was wearing a little yellow dress and holding a basket of flowers.  But the perspective I had in the dream was not first person.  My mind was not inside the little girl…it was floating off somewhere in where the audience would be, on the right hand side.  I was simply observing my child body on stage and feeling her feelings. I had no form that I could tell. It was a simply an out of body kind of thing.   I was just thoughts and somehow I saw her and felt what she felt.

The girl was peering into the auditorium where the audience should sit and she was looking for someone, but instead of rows of chairs, there was a huge stack of steel I-beams, so tall they would be taller than an adult’s height.  It became clear to me that the girl, that I, was looking for my step-father. The dimly lit steel beams obscured a lot and beyond the beams there was only blackness.  The lone spotlight on the little girl was the only light present and she kept looking towards the steel beams. I, the little girl, and I, the observer, could not see him, but I could FEEL him, and sensed was close by.  But it wasn’t a warm feeling of love or longing.  It was an dark feeling.  There was anger there, not love.   But even though I felt her deep fear, she didn’t cry.  She didn’t call out.  She just looked and waited for her step-father and felt the oppressive fear and wondered why there was so much anger and why she couldn’t see her step-father, even though she felt he was there.

And at some point, I’d wake up. feeling really scared.

And I dreamed this exact same dream, same scenario, same yellow dress and basket of flowers, same out of body observations time and again, same knowing it was about my step-father, knowing he was angry and making me feel very afraid.

I am no dream analyst, but even I think I could figure out what that dream meant:

I was wanting love/acceptance from the only father I really knew well but only finding anger and feeling rejected and alone.

My mom divorced my real dad when I was 2, so by the time I was 10, while I knew him from visitations, and there was fun times to be had with my real dad, I didn’t really know him well and it was my step-father I had to deal with on a daily basis.

My step-dad barely tolerated me, got angry a lot at my mother, and drank, and my oldest sister and I fought a lot and my step-dad would get really fed up with this.

I was extremely sensitive to his disapproval of me (well, extremely sensitive to EVERYONE’s disapproval of me, not just his).  And things of course got worse before they got better…he slapped my face once sending my glasses flying, the time he wiped his fingers behind the floor and then shoved the dusty fingers at me and yelling, “Do you call this clean, Casey?  Well…do you?!?!?!? and making me do it all over again, the time he yelled at me when I got a C one quarter in math in 6th grade “I know you can do better than that!”;  his stomping around the kitchen when he was drunk, slamming cabinet doors or that one time when he sent his plate flying and many other times of raging at my mother or us kids, and then one of the last times when he hit me with a half open beer can in the side of my head, (he told me after it struck me that he was aiming at my mother).  These things and others like it did a tremendous amount of damage.

I’ve since forgiven my step-dad, but I sure don’t like to spend a lot of time around him.  He still drinks and has no respect for me or my thoughts sometimes.

Other people’s anger had always been hard for me to handle, because I tended to think I did something wrong and I provoked it. And other people’s anger (regardless of the reason) turned me again into a confused little girl, again, wondering what I did/said that was wrong, that caused this person to “yell” at me (and reject me or my feelings) even if I had nothing to do with it. But I’m not a little girl anymore, and I have a voice now, and I sometimes raged out against other people’s anger. And it’s been misplaced on those I truly love.

I used to panic when I got called on my anger. The anger/rage thing was a huge stumbling block of mine. Examining that too closely used to make me feel deeply ashamed of myself. My rage had caused me to do some really wretched things – things I have trouble forgiving myself for.

I’ve been working through that these past few years with my healing journey.  I’m glad to say I’m not as angry as I used to be, though I still have flareups from time to time.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in adult child of alcoholics, adult survivors of abuse, Anger, Compassion, Complex-PTSD, Divorce, dreams, Emotional Abuse, Father Loss, Grief and Loss, Stories from My Life, Trauma, trauma recovery, Unattended losses. Bookmark the permalink.

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