Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THANK YOU FOR THE NIGHTMARES DADDY #incest #child sexual abuse

"To sleep, perchance to dream" wrote Shakespeare. Yes, that's what we all want to do: sleep peacefully, letting our subconscious sort out the experiences of the day so we can wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new day.

That's all good when all is good. Dreams are nice. But once you've become a victim of abuse, sexual or otherwise, sweet dreams and refreshing sleep elude us. For many of us dreams become nightmares. We toss, turn, fight demons and sometimes wake up screaming as we try to fight off the abuser or the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts we develop about ourselves ie.. the blame, the shame, the feelings of being dirty, soiled, unworthy, rotten ... an endless list of BAD.

As I write my book, COMING OUT FROM UNDER, beneath the memories I'm finding buried in my psyche, lie the nightmares, almost forgotten now, but not quite. These nightmares puzzle me. A dream expert could have some fun (?) with mine. I think I figured out their meaning long ago, and once I got away from my abuser, my father, these nightmares stopped. In my nightmares, I don't scream. I'm not terrified. But in one, I am filled with tension, worry. In the other, I am filled with revulsion and disgust but utterly confused. Without giving away the full details of these 2 nightmares which recurred for the entire 11 years I was being abused, and even for a short time after, let me try to precis my nightmares:

In the first, I am under a house which is built on brick supports, typical of Australian homes back in the 50's. (No basements there). It is dark but some weak light streaks through the spaces between those foundation pillars. I am digging in the dirt for something but I don't know what I expect to find. But what I feel is tension, great fear of finding something or someone that I have buried there. I cannot think what I've done wrong but I know it's something bad. And the bad is buried under that house. There's another shadowy figure down under the house with me. It is my father. He is digging too. He tells me that when I find it, I must not tell anyone, ever! Just cover it back up with the dirt. I am afraid that what I will find is a dead body. And I'm afraid that if I do, I will be charged with murder and spend the rest of my life in prison. But my father will walk free.

Care to interpret? I have.

In my other nightmare, always the same, I'm desperate to go to the toilet. I rush to the toilet, a small dark one like you find in those portable toilets, and relieve myself.  But when I reach for the paper, I can't find any that is clean. The toilet roll is soiled with excrement! I try to unroll it to find a clean piece and I get the excrement all over my hands. I cannot clean my hands or myself. I wake from this nightmare in panic. I can't stand this filth all over me ... and I can't wipe it off either!

I think the meaning of that one is probably quite clear. Does anyone else have nightmares similar to those I had? What were yours like? When did they stop? Or do they still surface even now, years after the abuse has stopped.

There is one dream I do remember having very often but this was a good dream. Sadly it never came true, well not quite the way it did in my dream. I am in a schoolyard or some crowded situation. There are people of all ages and sizes. They are coming after me but I don't know why. Suddenly, I stiffen on the spot, my legs together, almost glued, rigid. My arms hang tensely by my sides. I take a deep breath, stiffen my legs and arms again, and Houston ... we have lift-off! Just as the people reach for me, I soar high into the air and float above them. They are shouting but I am laughing. I'm flying. They can't get to me. I'm so happy as I zip over rooftops and see the people getting smaller and smaller the higher I go. It's such a wonderful dream. I laugh with happiness and freedom. I'm finally away from everything and everyone who causes me pain. The only nightmare in this dream is waking up to find it wasn't real, that I was only dreaming.

Bob Hope used to close his show for years with the classic "Thanks for the Memories". Those of us who have been, and are, victims of any kind of abuse, but especially child sexual abuse and incest would more likely sing "Thanks for the nightmares"

Can you relate? Your thoughts? Your nightmares? Want to share your story in private? Ask to join our Facebook group at SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER. We listen.


  1. Dreams can be healing, or be our worst nightmares. I used to dream since childhood of driving around a bend in the road or to the top of a high bridge and all of a sudden water is everywhere. The road is under water or the other side of the bridge has crashed into the water. I had this dream for many years and would always wake myself up when I would see the water. I was terrified to go in the water because I would drown.

    In a dream class that I took a few years ago, I found out that bodies of water usually represent emotions. In my childhood and early adulthood, I had a fear of my feelings. I stuffed and denied them but they were there waiting for me like the body of water. I have also had dreams with flash floods where the water comes roaring down the street. That to me describes how my anger would come roaring out of me at times, uncontrollable and raging. In recent years, the dream has changed as I have learned how to feel again. Now, I will actually go into the water before I wake up. I am doing my feelings rather than being afraid of them. I know today that I will not drown in my feelings. I can feel them. That is progress that I can see thru my dreams.

    1. Your dream is fascinating Patricia and yes, I'd say you've worked out the significance of it. Makes a ton of sense. I'm curious: in real life, do you have a fear of water ie. pools, oceans etc? I'm a swimmer and feel safe in a pool where I can see the bottom but I'm quite terrified of the ocean, though I will still tempt the shore waves and go out beyond them if my hubby is with me. My fear is based on being tumbled by shore waves so badly in Australia as a child that I've been scared ever since. But still, the fact that I love swimming and now will venture into the waves just show how bit by bit, we can surface from under our fears and experiences and get on top of them. The same applies to child sexual abuse and incest, don't you think?

  2. I have never learned to swim and have a fear of drowning but I like being in the water with a life vest on. I like being out in a boat. In the ocean, the few times I have been, I love wading out to maybe chest level. The only problem is that the jelly fish like popping up beside me. That is scarey and I usually get out of the water then. I could sit and watch the ocean waves all day and not care about not getting anything else done. I am fair skinned so I burn easily anywhere near the water.

    Yes, I agree with your statements about child sexual abuse and incest. We can face our fears and they become less as we travel our healing journey.

    I believe in reincarnation. I believe my fear of drowning comes from at least one past life. I don't have any memories of drowning in a past life. It is just a gut feeling.

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