Last night I had a dreamemory–a mixture of factual memories and dream-logic. Still recovering from it, my mind is a bit jumbled. This is what I dreamed:
I live in a small apartment on the ground floor, next to a few other apartments. They are in a kind of zig-zag shape of short 90-degree angles. I’m a small child. I see a bunch of people outside, including a man and several children next to a large vehicle. Like an extended family going on a trip. I go outside to look. I’m next to some bushes. I have a friend with me but I don’t see or look at her, I just feel her presence.
The guy sees me next to the bushes and comes over. He is threatening and I try to escape but he forces me onto a schoolbus. The schoolbus leaves with him, a few other men, and several children. There are a few boys but it’s mostly girls. I look toward the front of the bus and the man is there forcing himself one of the kids. He’s working his way toward the back. I know I’m somewhere in line. Another man on the other side of the bus is doing something similar.
I’m absolutely terrified. I was handcuffed previously but I somehow opened up one of the cuffs. They hang off my right hand. I wait for the right moment and dash toward a side door on the bus. One of the men almost catches me but I wiggle free and escape. I’m in some kind of field like the yard of the house I grew up in, but the house isn’t there and there’s a huge forest. The schoolbus is parked where my parents used to park their van.
I know I can’t run faster than the man so I try to hide and trick them. One of the men has a gun. I sneak around, get them to look in one direction and then double back the other way without them knowing. I could be anywhere now as far as they know. I find a way out through the trees and run into the forest.
I wonder how they didn’t hear me and try to think of a reason that makes sense, like wind or the van noise or something like that. My friend is still with me but I still don’t see her. We find electric bikes near a street and ride off.
We arrive back at the apartment. I worry the men were people who live here but I doubt it because they’d be in too much trouble. I know they were going to kill me after they were done. I think to myself, “Now I’m going to be reminded of this every time I play near the bushes.” I get really sad. I finally see my friend’s face, and there is so much emotion in her eyes and I don’t have words for any of it.
I’m amazed we made it back alive after all that. Everything feels normal and quiet now but something horrible happened here and I will never be the same.
My dreams are often repressed memories re-written in dream logic in order to obfuscate the most painful details. I decoded this over time from an intuitive, gut-level part of my brain and tested it against several theories, researched facts, and other people’s recollection of events. I’m not going to offer up scientific studies or anything, but I know what I know. Several of these recovered memories have been verified by third parties.
The factual elements of my dreamemories feel fundamentally different from the dream logic, even when it’s a mixture of the two in the same scene. The dream elements are disproportionately emotional and hyperreal, while the factual parts are connected to the vast network of accumulated memories and feelings of my waking life. One feels like a shot of alcohol, the other feels like fresh air rushing into a dark cave showing you the way out. The interpretation of dreamemories isn’t always obvious. I leave them open to re-evaluation, while at the same time trusting my gut and not pressuring myself into knowing “what’s really going on”. The bottom line is that the personal feelings represented in these dreams are always real, regardless of the details. And the symbolism is always insightful.
The apartment complex in the dream is connected to a real place, though I don’t know where. It was most likely a motel and not an apartment, and I didn’t live there. I woke from the dream and used the bathroom, and it became a motel bathroom that I know I’ve been in.
The vehicle in the dream alternated between a schoolbus and a van. My abusers had the stereotypical “molester van”, which is definitely the van in the dream. I’m not sure about the schoolbus. The other kids were either literally other kids, were representations of my alters, or both. The escape sequence as it played out was dream-fictional (what I call “dreamfic”), though it’s possible the gun was inspired by reality. It’s pretty much a given that I tried to run away or escape them at some point in real life, and this scene carried the emotional weight of that while being creative with the minutia.
My dreams are often repressed memories re-written in dream logic in order to obfuscate the most painful details.
The field I escaped into was a mixture of dream and reality. It had the basic layout and feel of the backyard from my childhood, but some details were changed: the house was gone (along with the entire neighborhood) and the surrounding area was replaced with a forest. The van was located exactly where it used to be parked in reality.
The electric bikes are from my life in the present. Throughout my recovery process, dreams about my childhood have been injected with empowering aspects of my present life. There are layers upon layers of repression inside of me, and this is what happens when my present world affects me deeply enough to reach those bottommost layers I enter in my dreams.
My electric bike is a symbol of empowerment. I am unable to drive due to heavy dissociation, and my legs can’t tolerate heavy muscle exertion because they’re always sore and in pain. The electric bike gives me reliable transportation, and lets me get exercise that is almost purely cardiovascular and so doesn’t leave me worse off than I started. I rode a normal bike as a kid, and back then it was a symbol of freedom, too. In the dream I rode farther and faster than I ever could on a normal bike.
My friend in the dream was an aspect of myself. She’s appeared before. I’m pretty sure she is the me that existed during the sex acts themselves. She is one of the most deeply-repressed parts of me. She used to be called “devil girl”. She may possibly be my “core”, or the part of me that existed before the dissociative split. Her age varies but never goes beyond five or six years old. In previous dreams I have watched from a distance while the abusers do things to her. In each dream I see her face vividly, especially her eyes. They are deep with a chaotic mix of emotions that overwhelm me just looking at them.
The bottom line is that the personal feelings represented in these dreams are always real, regardless of the details. And the symbolism is always insightful.
It’s interesting that the motel was my home in the dream, and my real-life home was the far away place we drove to. Home has always been a bad place for me, and the association sticks into the present. As soon as some place becomes “home” to me it becomes a scary place. I don’t understand the reversal of home and motel yet. It may just be several memories colliding, or it might have a symbolic meaning. I’m not sure. Up until this point I assumed the hotels I have remembered (three so far) were places abuse took place. This may have been a different trip. I don’t know.
The man in the dream was a character. This type of character has shown up in previous dreams as well. It’s possible he was a stand-in for my dad, one of his accomplices, or both. Dreamfic really likes dual-meaning. Since this dreamemory seemed to be a combination of several memories, it wouldn’t surprise me if that figure represented many real-life people. One thing I do know for sure, though, is that when an abuser in a memory is a family member or someone else I trusted, they first show up as a character. My brain eases me in to the full memory, giving me censored clips and only revealing more after I acclimate.
One way this dream is a milestone: I was the same person from start-to-finish. Even if only in a dreamemory, I lived through a horror from my past without dissociating into a different person to cope. And I remembered everything after it happened, both within the dream and outside of it.