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Jul 05, 2008
I can relate...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Deb, as an adult I too used to have nightmares, a reoccurring one, though mine was a little less symbolic. Almost every night I dreamt that my mother was chasing me with a bullwhip (her mother used a bullwhip for discipline; my mother preferred a belt—I'd spent so much time trying to understand why my mother did the malicious things she did, that the actions of both these women inexorably melded into one.)

In that dream I couldn't escape. The harder I tried to run, the slower I got, weighed down by the ever-increasing heaviness of the dirt and grass under my feet as it dragged me down beneath the surface. My screams for help were garbled, inaudible, trapped in a time warp of sorts that only I as the dreamer was able to see and hear. I couldn't find the strength from my own legs so I frantically clutched at tufts of grass, desperate to keep from being buried alive. My mother kept getting closer and closer, the threat being less about the damages the whip would cause, more about what she would do when she finally caught up with me...I always woke up before she did.

As I dealt with one issue after another in therapy, I realized that the way I interpreted the dream may well have been perpetuating it. When I analyzed what exactly was happening in the dream, I came to realize that my mother never actually caught up with me; I was ahead of her the whole time, even when I was being inescapably dragged down by external forces. I came to realize that although the tip of the whip made contact over and over and over again, I felt no pain, only the fear of it: I was able to endure. I'd always seen myself as "powerless" rather than "powerful." I had construed my buried legs and feet as useless, leaving me incapable of escape, and therefore weak. But then I came to realize that I wasn't weak at all, that the act of desperately grasping with my hands and fingers was symbolic of my never-ending will to survive. I had strength I didn't know I had. My mother had NOT succeeded in destroying or "burying" me. Indeed, night after night after night, I had survived.

The dreams finally stopped when I changed my way of interpreting them.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Jul 07, 2008
wow
by: deb

Thanks so much for sharing your nightmare with me. You are such an inspiration.

XOXOdb.

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