In Friday’s session, I talked about both the nightmare I shared here as well as the nightmare I had the following night. Turns out this therapist is actually quite interested in dream analysis. When I subtly segued the conversation into me having a seemingly important dream, she immediately picked up her notebook (which she normally never writes in during sessions) and asked if she could write it down. Although I generally hate when therapists do that, I knew she just wanted to remember what I said accurately, so I told her I didn’t mind.
For the first dream, she was very moved and said something like, “Aw…that is very touching” once I finished explaining the role she played in calming me/River down during the nightmare. She said she thinks it’s a good sign of where we are at in the relationship right now. I appreciated that she kept it anchored in the present tense because it shows that she understands how scary the future can be for me in this particular space. She also noted that the dance sequence seems to interrupt bouts of hysteria and rage, suggesting that (for at least one Insider) dance may represent the only way they know how to communicate other emotions such as disappointment, fear, or helplessness. Then she asked some clarifying questions about the family friend and when I explained a little about this person, she said, “I can understand why you wouldn’t want to go with this person who thinks your parents are wonderful people!” She also asked about the role of financial stress and I talked a bit about how my parents were always super stressed about money and put way too much of that burden on their children. With my wife still lacking a full-time salaried position, it’s been difficult for us (which is now going on six months of under-employment).
For the second dream, I was also in my childhood home, but I was a little older (around 15). My biological father was chasing me around the house and I jumped out my bedroom window onto the roof (something that has happened in real life). He threatened to come out after me. I said, “Go ahead. But it’s you or me…only one of us will survive this.” He climbed onto the roof and in mere seconds, I just shoved him off and he was dead. My biological mother, however, then showed up in my bedroom and screamed through the window that she was going to catch me and murder me. I climbed off the roof via the porch beams and started running for my life. I ran and ran until I couldn’t anymore. Then I somehow had my cell phone so I started calling people, but no one would help me because they “didn’t want to get involved in family business”. I eventually contacted a friend who said her aunt would help me, so I started walking to her house.
Suddenly I had two big dogs with me who were protecting me. I don’t know where they came from and I could only visualize one of them. The other I just sorta “knew” was there. The dog I could actually see was a beautiful brown and black marbled pit-bull named River (sorta weird). When we arrived at this woman’s house, I sent the dogs ahead to check it out as I slinked behind vehicles to spy. Turns out she was colluding with my mother, so we booked it out of there before I could get caught.
Then I eventually found my wife (who I didn’t even know during the time I was that age), but neither one of us could find a single soul to help us. The dream ended with both of us sitting on concrete steps somewhere with the dogs. I said, “Oh my god…now I am actually homeless” and then I woke up.
The therapist immediately responded to the sequence with my parents. She said it was quite telling that I almost couldn’t even be bothered with my father. I fearlessly challenged him and then just tossed him off the roof to plunge to his death. My mother, however, somehow always has this way of exuding a frightening rage that I can never seem to run far enough away from. And she always permeated my relationships in a way that made it impossible for me to seek or get help from anyone, installing a sense of total and complete isolation.
The therapist also said that she felt the dogs represented my intuition and instinct. Since I struggle so much to trust my “gut feelings”, I may have externalized them in the form of these fierce, protective dogs. In the dream, I used them to asses and evaluate a situation that proved to be unsafe. I likely didn’t trust myself to gather that information, but I trusted the dogs to do it for me. I thought that was a very interesting way to look at it.
I also spoke about being homeless before, but I always had friends that were willing to offer me a couch or floor to crash on for a few nights. Although I spent years without an actual home, I very rarely had to sleep in a vehicle and I never had to sleep outside (thankfully!). Perhaps the financial stress we’ve been under is continuing to create a fear of becoming homeless again within the system? That, combined with the serious mommy-issues that this shit with Zooey drudged up, would certainly explain the inability to find anyone to help me find shelter in the nightmare.
I’m so glad the therapist took my dreams seriously and was willing to dialogue with me about the various interpretations. I also thought it was sweet that she was so moved by her own appearance in my first dream (although I will admit I felt vulnerable sharing that part with her). I also brought up the horrific nightmare I had about Zooey again. She said, “Oh right! We were going to talk about that!….maybe we still can?” which I was very pleased with because she neither forgot about it nor seemed uninterested in processing it with me. I also told her that all of the dreams I had about Zooey were nightmares where she was either hurting me or I was being forced to hurt her and she thought that was very interesting.
I look forward to sharing more of this stuff with her because I found it quite exciting and insightful to hear what she thought about my dreams.