Dreams have influenced many junctures of my life, and instigated actions that have had profound effects. An example might be my dream about being a police officer; and so that came to pass. Yet this wasn't a prediction coming true, but rather a subconsciously derived story that bubbled to the surface. I acted upon the emotional impulses experienced in the dream; namely a desire for respect , a need to display bravery, and a desire for esteem.
Trauma dreams to me are so common as to be deemed normal. My sleep-scape is usually a congested highway of panic and fear, manifesting in jolts, jumps and sometimes even shaking. Then there are a set of usual suspects; returning to my old army unit for the thousandth time; being out on duty with the police & with my sworn-in powers redacted so I am reduced to a pitiful facsimile in costume; imposter syndrome.
Then there are the trauma dreams. The guilt dream where she comes back from the grave and stands silently at the door and I ask her why she isn't dead. She didn't die and has been living away somewhere for years. But I want her to be dead so I scream at her and there is no reply. Other trauma moments involve a return to the child somehow as an adult, and reliving the tempest and many of the details of my childhood.
I have encountered a loop. Given that my film mirrors actual dream elements (the door sequence) and also is bound to real impulses and actions; it was no surprise that a dream would return a view of all of this activity. This occurred some weeks ago in an experience so intense that I woke up whimpering as described in the a recent entry. The dream subconscious had tapped into the narrative of my film and had a verdict to deliver. The verdict was that I had been lying to myself. I immediately wrote nine pages of notes downstairs in a most lucid state. I was amazed; the dream had assimilated the fictional characters from my film and had played these characters in a way that shocked me.
So the loop goes like this; I have now responded to it's response to me, and I was now able to see clearly my error as a result. Perhaps it will reply at some point?
Post dream notes:
I woke up and realised the spider was on my head. It was a nightmare, and as usual I woke up whimpering and in terror. This was now and as I write this, it feels deathly cold. This is a real dream.
I was talking as I awoke...
"She is trying to kill me" I said.
Except in the dream she wasn't. I was trying to kill me.
For the first time as I sat blinking in the dark, I realised that I was trying to rescue myself from death.
And so as I sat blinking in the dark after the nightmare, eyes shut in the room where the boy is. I realised that I was pretending in the dream. Pretending that I had no accountability in any of this, that it was someone else's fault.
The spider scuttles on my skull; a wretched squatter since 12 years old and now I'm going to wrench it off, but it won't go quietly.
The time She came towards me with a knife and cut herself. Down that passageway in that foggy memory. Was it real? I was perhaps six.
Blinking in the dark.
Are these memories real or imagined?
Forwards only, not backwards. Sabotage this page, that drawing, this idea. Delete that. It isn't worthy.
Glued memories, stuck.
I become the boy in my film, and the spider resumes as addiction. What were you thinking? That this monster can be beaten?
I utter a muffled croak, webs in my throat. I'm buried in a cocoon of doubt. I can't breathe.
Its difficult to flash the BIOS on a computer as this information is burned into a chip. It sits below software, deep in the guts of the system. BASIC IN OUT SYSTEM. Our own minds have these hard-wired centers too. and these cause untold mischief.
Trauma is flash burned into the Brain's Amygdala, remembered or buried- It is there. This is our basic IN OUT system.
To the trauma child and trauma adult, these concepts are meaningless, however to a mind also seeking to understand , this is a liberating idea.
The mind examines itself, searches within. Yet the power is held still by the ancient areas of the BIOS , and the cognitive mind is held hostage. because to understand is to flimsily and nervously skirt around a sleeping animal. Tip-toeing around it, and well aware that if it wakes up then understanding it becomes rather a secondary matter.
In my experience I live both as the animal and as the examiner of the animal. The animal is fear. And when fear is awake, there is no other state and all thoughts are dissolved away.
So the record plays and plays in the same way.
Examining these grooves make no difference to the tune. Behaviours. Thoughts. Deeds.
Yet to make a tiny change, just one?
I hate myself so you can hate me too.
Central to my experience is the issue of esteem; and deeming one's self to be "damaged goods". The self-narrative mechanism delivering one liners. "I'm fucked up". So eloquent.
This is accompanied by the general ACOA traits of murderous self-criticism and self-loathing. Self-loathing for something not done yesterday, or some error of judgement or collapse in confidence or magnificent humiliation.
Parent A's reinforcement of my worthlessness was incalculable in frequency over 23 years. These were issued as statements of fact; of one's rubbishness, yet often soothed or compensated for in some way by Parent B (the rare, sober version of parent A). Soothed but not remembered let alone redacted.
Emotional attacks upon the child's developing sense of worth from toddlerhood into teenage-hood yielded a nervous and frightful person, and also more seriously, a person unaware of their potential (until now).
Emerging from trauma usually includes a process of destroying it in the memory. For years I imagined that I was ok and imagined that I did not need to confront trauma. But it has a way of outing itself.
Our behaviours are learned. In my case the behaviours I learned were that chaos was normal, and rare quiet times were spent in a hyper-vigilant state because the next bout of chaos was imminent. And there it was, ..so this behaviour was confirmed to be correct.
The problem is that the state of hyper-vigilance becomes grooved in the brain's primitive centres. The "ok" me was actually nervous, on edge, and anxious. I'm assuming this is typical in anxiety disorders. However with ACOA related trauma there are other many other symptoms, as seen in this list by Tony A (1978).
The first time I saw this list, I almost laughed. A strange reaction; however I felt relief that I could finally begin to understand what was going on inside of my head.
As a child I hid in a wardrobe.
I could hear the traffic in the steamy city streets below, though I felt safe where I was. This was Jo'burg.
I had a book or a comic. I had a pillow. I had a blanket. I was dressed in school clothes, and wasn't where I was supposed to be. Yet I had pretended to go, but instead closed the door loudly, had hid and waited for her to leave. And that "her" fills me with fear and sick and dread but also sadness. And now I'm a child again, and I want to hide again..
I hid in the darkness, away from prying eyes. I don't like eyes, and I don't like attention.
In my work I've tried several times to climb out of the wardrobe, yet I always seem to end up there again.
So I'm climbing out now and will try to not go back in there. And there are going to be lots of eyes so I had better get used to it.
by Paul Sinclair