I had another nightmare involving the therapist last night. I’ve had this dream before, which seemed notable, so I typed it up to bring into session today. I will put it here so you don’t have to jump back to the old post:
It took place in my early teen years. I was at some campus of sorts. A hospital complex, maybe? My family members had appointments at other clinics and I knew I wanted to go to therapy, so I somehow convinced my parents to drop my off at the building with the therapist so I could see her.
I was young. She was herself. But she somehow didn’t know anything about my abuse. I told her I wanted to tell her something important.
“My parents are having sex.”
“Okay. That’s something adults do sometimes. Does that bother you?”
“Yes. I hate it.”
“What about it bothers you?”
“That they’re having sex….”
“Do you think they shouldn’t be? Is something about them having sex upsetting to you?”
“Do you want to talk more about that.”
“They’re having sex…with me.”
Then the dream gets crazy and difficult to remember. I know she jumped into action and the session ended up going over time, so my entire fucking family (including peripheral cousins and friends of family) came into her office building to get me. They were super hyped up and agitated that they’d been waiting in the car for me for 30 minutes or so. They we absolutely enraged that I had the audacity to not be standing outside at the exact moment they wanted me to be there.
I looked at the therapist with desperation. “Please save me”, I thought. She tried to engage with my parents in some manner and they both got very hostile. My mother got up in her face and started screaming that she had no right to interfere with family business.
I started inching myself closer to the therapist and sorta hid myself behind her. I was quietly begging her to not make me go back home with them.
“I can try to get another place for you to stay, but I don’t have somewhere available right now.”
“Can’t I stay here?! Please don’t make me go back there!”
“I’m so sorry, no, you can’t. There’s nothing I can do. You can’t stay here.”
I was devastated. I took a deep breath and stepped in line with my family, ready to march back to hell. I looked back at the therapist and she looked so lost and helpless. She kept saying she was sorry, but I felt so enraged and betrayed. I’d told her my secret. I’d told her what they were doing to me and she did nothing. NOTHING. She just sent me back to them.
She said two things stood out to her right away. Then she very briefly noted that I only ever refer to her as “the therapist” and asked if that represents the idea that she is replaceable and ultimately a stand-in, playing a part. I took a deep breath and said, “Oh boy. That’s a whole other conversation of its own.” She kinda paused for a second, but then she said, “Okay” and let it go. For now. Then we focused on the nightmare.
Her first observation was that she does feel like there’s always an underlying reminder of how much she doesn’t know about my past. She said, “I do know about your abuse in general, but I get the sense there this is so much I don’t know yet. And perhaps that’s something you’ll share over time, but I know for now that we’ve only scraped the surface of what happened to you.”
Then she said that the end of the nightmare session really stood out to her. She feels like this dream is such a great parallel for what happens in real life when time is running out. She explained that she often feels like I struggle with feeling as though I have to end session only to be left alone with my family. Not literally, of course, but in a metaphorical sense.
She said she sees how hard it is for me to unpack all of these really terrible, traumatic details about my family dynamics and then ultimately have to leave the therapeutic space to battle all those feelings and thoughts on my own. So, in that way, she feels like the end of session triggers feelings of abandonment and invisibility because I am being left to fend for myself in a world that can feel very scary and overwhelming to me due to my trauma. She further explained that although she doesn’t imagine I want to literally stay in her office (as I did in the dream), she does understand how I may want to stay in the space we create because it can sometimes feel safer and more validating than the “real world”.
Which is all true (of course) and very good insight, but for some reason it was also incredibly difficult for me to listen to her reflections on this dream. I felt so ashamed and so utterly young. I both wanted to shrink into nothingness and cling to her every word at the exact same time.
(For more dream analysis, check out this post)