Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is your bedroom your sanctuary?

Your bedroom, your bed…your sanctuary! You! You’re an adult now! You’re no longer a child. This is your bed. You’re safe here.

I recently repainted and bought all new bedding for my bedroom. I love it! One wall is a deep chocolate brown and the others are tan. I wanted white bedding with accent pillows in tan, gold, burgundy, brown…. and now I have it. And it is fabulous! The goose down comforter is made of Egyptian cotton and filled with down so thick and yet so light it cradles softly around me when I lie down. I surround myself in down pillows until I feel like I’m cradled in a cocoon. It’s welcoming and alluring and when dear husband lies down in bed, he’s out in 2 minutes, tops! It looks safe and warm…inviting…and yet I still fear sleep. Why? Nightmares plague me more nights than not, making me feel possessed as they pummel me with their fury. Sometimes I wake up from one of these dreams and the bitter rage is so overwhelming I find myself perilously close to vomiting.

The following nightmare woke me at 314am…
I am standing at the top of the stairs- hiding quietly from him. My eyes are closed and my back is pressed against the wall, as if I am trying to become part of the wall. I open my eyes, strangely relaxed and calm, my breathing even. I think to myself, I can't fight him, can't beat him at his games. I just have to survive; just for a while, and then disappear to a place where he can't reach me in any way that matters.

I can hear him- he’s running up the stairs, hands outstretched, but not in welcome. Something in me clicks into place, and I begin to scream. Not the hysterical high-pitched screams of a frightened young woman, but bawling out at the top of my lungs: "I have the right to say no! I have the right not to be touched if I don't want to be!" I jump away from him, run down the stairs and tear through the door.

"I have the right to say no! I have the right not to be touched if I don't want to be!" I keep repeating this over and over as I run, hoping that anyone who hears me will understand that a line has been crossed, and praying that this attempt to threaten me will finally make me safe, vindicated. I enter a church and run down the aisles, past the assembled congregation, who begin to murmur among themselves as they realize what must have happened. I reach the vestibule, where people are slowly filing out from their various activities. I turn around and glance at the door. There are two men in religious dress who have obviously been told not to let me leave. They are smiling and saying goodbye to the other churchgoers as they leave, but as they see me approaching, the senior one turns to his junior and gently shakes his head. They shut the door and brace themselves to block me. Once again, I shout at them: "I have the right not to be touched if I don't want to be!" A look of understanding crosses their faces and they step aside. I understand, these two men will not risk my father's wrath by opening the door for me, but they will disobey him passively and let me get away.

As I reach the street and begin to run into town, I know he is behind me. I can hear his footsteps; feel his angry eyes boring a hole inside of me. I run as fast as I can, repeating my mantra all the while. I zigzag through neighborhood streets, trying to confuse him, trying to think, without slowing down, of how I can lose him.

I spot the town sheriff; he is dressed in the Hollywood stereotypical small-town Midwestern way – a middle aged, white, overweight good old boy with a gun. He hears me yelling and quickly takes in the situation. My father is closing in on me, my legs are tired and my lungs are burning. He is gaining; he can almost touch me now! I think to myself, if he gets his hands on me this time, it will be all over. I have crossed the line, he will kill me.

I am now side-by-side with the sheriff, standing in the road beside his parked squad car, and I scream at him: "Help me!!"

I have stopped running and I stare at the sheriff, waiting to see what he will do. If the sheriff doesn't help me, I’m done for anyway. For a split second, my father stops also. Then he advances toward me, sure that the sheriff will side with him. But the sheriff can see the madness in his eyes and he knows what he has to do.

“Stop right there", he says, and raises his gun. My father continues to move toward me, the hatred in his eyes staring deep inside me. I know if he gets close enough to touch me, he will kill me. I look back and forth between the sheriff and this mad man, wondering if the sheriff will shoot him before he kills me. He is so close to me, I can feel his breath in my face- his hands are reaching out to grab my neck. I realize he is going to kill me and suddenly a strange calmness enters me- I have accepted my fate. If he kills me, I will no longer have to endure him or my mother. I feel relaxed and calm, I’m okay with the fate I have been handed.

A gunshot pulls me back from my thoughts, and when I open my eyes, I see him, lying on the ground, blood surrounding his body. His eyes are still open and they look like they can still see me. I begin to cry and the sheriff moves toward me as if he is going to take me into his arms to comfort me. I pull away-unable to stand the thought of someone that close me. I turn and begin to run, thinking to myself, if he catches me, he will kill me. I can never stop running.

When can I stop running?
I'm so tired...I just want to stop running...


  1. Grace, I have an excellent book on dreams. It's different than most, because it's written by a psychologist who analyzed almost 30,000 dreams and also what was going on in the dreamers' lives at the time. So, she talks about common dreams and what was going on with most people when they had a certain dream. She also tells how to recognize if an interpretation is the right one for you. It's very insightful.

    Your dream has a couple of elements you might be interested in! She says that "generic characters", such as your sheriff, actually represent parts of us. So, a sheriff would represent the protective, authoritative (this should be whatever sheriff actually means to YOU) part of you. Add in whatever midwestern means to you (honest?), and this would be the part of you that is being represented in the dream.

    The gun the sheriff (you) had in the dream can be symbol of personal power. And death usually reflects change in a relationship.

    Does any of this feel right to you at all? Maybe this dream is trying to show you that you are ready to take back the power that your father has over you? (I am not any kind of dream expert, and the author stresses that an interpretation should feel right to you, if it's the right one.)

    If you're interested, the book is "The Complete Dream Book" by Gillian Holloway.

  2. Wow! I LOVE That interpretation, Tracy, I sure hope it's right :-)...I have a lot of dreams involving little girl (I'm guessing me) and different people, incl my father. some scary, some not so scary.
    This book sounds really cool - I think I will check it out...Thanks!!!
    ~ Grace
    p.s. I'm originally from the midwest....

  3. Oh - can you tell me more about what you were talking about when you said, on one of my posts, about taking a negative self comment and substituting w/positive. Here's the thing - I can't do the "I hate me"/"I love me" because it seems really corny.....I can say it, but then I just roll my eyes :-)

  4. Tracy,
    Thanks for the info...I found the book on amazon for 47 cents - so I ordered it....can't beat that price!

  5. Hi Grace, wow, 47 cents? I should shop there! The book is excellent, but the index is not. It gets easier to use the book as you become more familiar with it, because a lot of stuff just isn't in the index. But it really does have some insightful information! It's a cool thing to be able to start making sense of all those crazy dreams. :) The negative/positive self comments -- I know what you mean, it can be very corny. I actually found a technique in one of Dr. Phil's books that was genius, I thought. He somehow broke the process down into different steps, so that it ended up making sense, and not being corny. I don't know if I would recommend the rest of the book to you, because the whole beginning of the book was about remembering important things that have shaped you... and you seem to be remembering enough on your own. But I did find that last part, about the self-talk to be very useful. Since doing that exercise, I USUALLY am okay with myself. If you're interested, it was Dr. Phillip McGraw's "Self Matters." Oh, I am originally from the Midwest, too. :)