Sep 13, 2014

Dreams are a strange thing. I don’t know how they are for other people, but for me they are vivid, soul-gripping events. I often have a hard time separating out what is real and what is not real when I wake up because my dreams feel completely real. Coming back to reality feels pretty jarring.

Throughout my years of adulthood I have had lots of what I call “bad dreams” where sad, bad, hard things happen. Things like murder, car chases, falling off cliffs, evil men breaking into my home in the middle of the night to rape our daughters, living with old boyfriends and having an unhappy marriage full of adultery, abuse, and poverty. In the early days of our marriage, I had dreams of Richard having affairs and in the morning I would wake up unable to sort out if it had really happened or not. He would hold me (if my fury at his alleged affair dissipated enough to allow him to hold me) and listen to the sordid tale and let me work it out in my mind till I came to the truth of the matter. Sometimes these dreams showed me what my life could have been like had I made different choices.

None of this happens every night, but it certainly happens often enough that it doesn’t surprise us. I roll over and say “I had a bad dream” and Richard wraps his arms around me and waits for me to share it. He listens and helps me process all the powerful emotions that pour out of me in the early morning hours.

Does everyone do this? Is this normal? I have no idea. I only know my dreams are intense, full-on-experiences in the movie theater of my mind.

Well, for the last few weeks, the dream experiences have become even worse. I’m not sure if the intensity is worse or the frequency or what, but I am starting to dread going to sleep. All of these dreams are revolving around one theme – rape, abuse, molestation. Of me.

And it hurts.

More than I can begin to describe.

I wake up in the morning feeling violated.


More than angry, full on rage.

And at the same time, shriveled.

I was molested as a child by several different people. And though I cannot stand to have my hair stroked because one abuser did that to me, I think I have dealt with it pretty well.

And yet, these dreams aren’t going away. None of the dreams are like my own experiences in terms of setting, participants, or events, but the feeling of violation is identical, but also somehow, more pronounced.

Last night’s dreams was a doozy. I find myself wanting to wrap up in warm blankets and hide from the world as I let my body and spirit process these feelings of being trapped, completely misunderstood, and thoroughly violated by not only the man who was touching me, but also the police who investigated afterwards.

I can see the effects of these dreams on my face. The wrinkles are more pronounced, the bags under my eyes bigger. Tears spring to my eyes much more easily than they ever have before. I find myself crying as I look at a flower, a small child, an act of kindness. The beautiful moments of life are becoming much more precious to me.

This is hard. Really hard. I know these experiences aren’t real, but the feelings are and after each dream they need processed and released. I don’t know why they are coming. Are they a gift to help me heal from my own experiences or are they torturing me and serving no helpful purpose? I don’t know.

I only know I hurt and I cry and I am tired.

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  1. Oh, Tracy, I am so sorry. Abuse makes me so angry, so sick inside. I wish there was a way to erase all the pain that comes from it. I will pray that you can have dreams that are sweet and happy. You deserve it, you are such a strength to everyone around you.

  2. Charlene

    When I have dreams like that, it is usually not about the actual thing that happened in the dream but the feelings that go along with it. For instance if I feel violated in a dream, I am probably feeling like someone is in some way violating my boundaries in my awake hours but I’m ignoring it or not dealing with it. Could it be something like that? It could be feelings from old violations, but if you have actually dealt with it, I would look at what is going on right now as more likely. Just my experience, different people have different things from their dreams, but often they reflect a concern or something going on in their lives. Maybe for you it isn’t even the violation so much as the vulnerability that you have been feeling because of the injuries? Most of us who have suffered abuse at one time or another don’t do well with feeling vulnerable.

    • tracy

      Charlene, thank you for the insights. Violations and vulnerability are all playing into this, I’m sure. Thank you for listening/reading. Love you.


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