Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Poor Kitty


I am living in some kind of skinny house like a trailer that is up off the ground. I'm in the house cooking and it is so crowded with furniture and boxes that I can hardly get around inside of it. There is a knock at the door. As I approach the window to the outside world, I realize it has been a long time since I've seen my cat. 

It is raining as I look out the door to see who is at my house. I can hardly get to the door because of all the furniture and boxes. I finally open the door and start looking for kitty. I find him underneath the house. He has been skinned almost to the bone. He is gooey with mucus and blood, but I convince myself that he is just wet from the rain.

I pull him out from under the house and hold his limp, gooey body in my arms. All at once I realize it was my boyfriend who skinned my poor kitty. The cat looks up at me and I feel hopeful that he can be nursed back to health, but I am afraid to try. Even though I know how much he wants to live, I am also aware of the incredible pain he is in. I cannot decide whether I will nurse him back to health or put him back under the house to die in peace.


Understand that this dream was years before I sought my first therapist. Clearly my kitty is a representation of wounded me. I knew I was broken, I knew I needed help. I just didn't know how or where to get it. The student was not ready.

This dream was hard for me to write about today. My arms and chest are heavy, my telltale sign for impending dissociative escape. I am fighting to stay present. Breathe, feel, stay in. That's what I tell myself now when this happens.

The cat in my dream just recently died. I had him for 17 years and I loved him dearly. Indeed it was a gruesome death as he was attacked by neighborhood dogs. Just two weeks ago I carried his limp, gooey body to the vet to have him euthanized. On top of this, I have oft used the comparison of a butterfly to my past year of transformation. Just recently in my birthday post called The Prophecy I refer to myself as the caterpillar inside the cocoon who has melted into primordial goo. The poignance of this metaphor could not be any more real than it is today in recapping my dream.

The good news is, I am nursing myself back to health. I do want to live, and not just survive. I am determined to build myself back up, no, to transform into something better not in spite of but because of my pain. Post-Traumatic Growth is not only possible, but probable for me. I am already experiencing it.

My pain today is not only because of the near prediction of my cat's untimely death. My grief is more for the young version of me who did not know what was ailing her. Whose pain was so deeply buried it could only come out in the form of gruesome dreams. Now that I am fully in touch with self-compassion, I look back at the years of my life spent in pain and confusion with great sorrow. I was so lost, so wounded, so alone.

I am eternally grateful that I am now on a different path, one of healing and thriving. I can only move forward on the path; too much has been revealed and there is no turning back. I will be healthy, I will be whole. The universe is providing precisely what I need to make this happen.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Severed Leg

circa late 1990's

I am at an amusement park. We are getting on a roller coaster and I am very excited. The ride is fun, like every roller coaster. But something goes wrong. My leg is caught on the track.

Now I am off the ride and am surrounded by people, not doctors, just amusement park visitors. My right leg has been severed just below the knee. There is some kind of clear plastic molding in the shape of a rectangle engulfing my leg, and it is heavy as hell. 

People want to look at my leg; they also want to touch it. I let them, even though it hurts. It is a stomach-churning, nausea-inducing pain I have never felt before. It's the kind of pain I imagine you can only feel from losing a limb. If you look at it from the bottom you can see the bone in the middle of the soft, pink flesh. Everyone wants to touch that part - thank God for the plastic molding. I can't imagine how bad this would feel if they were really touching the exposed bone and nerve endings.

I am trying to walk on the molding as if it were the remainder of my leg and foot. It hurts so badly. I try to fit the stump into a boot filled up to where my leg is cut off, but my stump with the molding does not fit in the boot very well. In fact it does not fit at all. 

I caress my stump. The plastic is cold, hard, and squared off with profound angles. And it is so very heavy.


Another dream about severed me. Parts of my essence abused and cut off from the rest of myself. At the time when I had this dream I was unaware of all the ways I had been abused, nor the effect it was having on my adult life. Well, some part of me knew - somewhere deep in my subconscious. That's what dreams do, they make the subconscious conscious.

I knew I was not whole. I knew that parts of me were damaged, hidden, scared. I also knew that I was walking around in a semi-robotic state - a cold, hard version of me. I was wearing a protective outer shell (the plastic molding) so that my wounds were not visible or touchable. Not even by me. 

This past year has been a great journey in unraveling that shell layer by layer. And oh how the soft, sweet, emotional me is being revealed. I have intense emotions now; some days the pain is so deep I can hardly move. It's everything I can do to just keep breathing. My therapists say that I am feeling 25 years worth of pain in a compressed period of time. It is difficult but it is necessary. 

A recent Daily Om speaks of the need for protection in times of harm, but also the need to shed these layers in order to promote healing and growth:

Trees grow up through their branches and down through their roots into the earth. They also grow wider with each passing year. As they do, they shed the bark that served to protect them but now is no longer big enough to contain them. In the same way, we create boundaries and develop defenses to protect ourselves and then, at a certain point, we outgrow them. If we don’t allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can’t expand to our full potential. 

And so it is with humans. Understand your layers, thank them for protecting you when you needed it, and then learn to let them go. Recapture your severed self to become whole and express Who You Really Are.

The Sheep

circa late 1990's

I hear them crying. It is the most awful sound I have ever heard. It is the sound I imagine rabbits make when they are dying, as described in Trudy Chase's When Rabbit Howls

I have to see from where this noise is coming. It is nighttime, and the sky is clear blue. The stars guide my way up a green hill. As I look down into the pasture below, I see them. There are dozens of them. They are sheep with long necks like llamas, but the texture of their wool lets me know they are really sheep. 

I run to them. Someone is dragging them; there are big hooks in their mouths and a string attached to each hook. I hug one of the sheep; he is so soft. And he is crying so loudly now. I grab the string and it is strong and sharp like fishing line. I pull the string to try and create slack but it is too strong. The thing dragging us is so strong. I grab the string with a firmer grip but this feeble gesture only cuts my hands wide open. 

I can't do anything to help them. I can't do anything but listen to them cry and watch them being dragged away. Their eyes are wide open with fear. They think I can help them. But I am powerless. There is nothing I can do but watch. The pain of this scene cuts me to the bone.


The sheep are me, various parts of Little Me who were wounded in multiple abuse scenarios. My schizophrenic-abandoning mother, my sexual abuser who I have now dubbed The Wolf. This makes the representation of sheep all the more powerful.

Through my healing journey I have systematically identified all the parts of me who were wounded. As dissociation has long been my survival mechanism during times of trauma, I have come to envision that each abused part of me escaped my body during the moment of abuse. Small white wisps of smoke hover somewhere outside and just above my body, pieces of my essence that escaped and have been too afraid to re-enter until now.

Much of my therapy and various healing modalities are aimed at reintegrating each and every one of these pieces of me. First they had to be recognized, then named. Through Healing Art I try to understand their pain and personalities. And then I do everything I can to show them they are loved and accepted. But above all, I want to show them they are safe now. They survived though no one was taking care of them.

I am taking care of them now.

The Asylum

circa late 1990's

I am on a gurney and someone is pushing me very fast. The hospital lights above me are bright and the closed doubles doors are coming quickly. There is a loud crack each time my gurney slams into and opens these doors. Finally, the bed is still. I am in a room alone.

The nurse comes in and I want to ask her why I am here. I can't speak; I conclude that I am drugged. I try to sit up, but my hands and feet are buckled tightly to the sides of the bed. I try to squirm, but the nurse slaps me in the face. Hard. 

I am scared, no, I am terrified. I don't know what they are going to do to me. I have realized now that I am in an insane asylum. I have been committed, but I am not crazy. Am I? They have sedated me so that I will cooperate. 

What is she doing? My legs are being pulled apart like at the gynecologist's office. There is a click, and now I cannot put my legs back together. I have on a hospital gown and no panties. There are several young people in the room with lab coats and clipboards. They are med students. 

Oh my God, they are going to use my vagina to teach these students how to give an exam. I am a guinea pig. They each take turns inserting their fingers and various tools inside of me. I want to cry but the tears won't come. It doesn't hurt, but I can feel them moving around inside my body. I can tell each time a new student sits down to poke and prod. It is terrible. I am humiliated, defiled, and angry.

Finally it is over. They leave and the medication wears off. It is time for me to go talk to the resident shrink. I am so glad I am finally getting out of here. As soon as he finds out what the nurse and those med students did to me he will let me out for sure. He is going to be sympathetic, and he will let me cry in his arms. 

I am escorted to his office with bound hands. The doctor is a warm looking, 50-something man. He is balding and the hair that is left is all grey. His lab coat reminds me of the med students, but I quickly put that out of my mind so that I can concentrate on the real reason I am here - to tell him what they did to me. 

I am so eager to get it out that I am sure I am stumbling all over my words. I am crying hard as I give him the gruesome details of the incident. He nods and looks concerned as I tell my story, all the while he is writing on his clipboard. When I am finished I look up at him through tear-soaked eyes and he stops writing. He comes over and puts his arm around me as he walks me to the door. 

Outside his office, he hands me over to the guard. As I am escorted back to my room I hear the doctor over my shoulder either thinking out loud or talking to a colleague. I can't seem to turn my head enough to see him, so I simply listen. 

"Just like we thought, schizophrenia. Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic hallucinations. Fascinating."


This dream haunted me for a great many months. I had various recurring versions but this is the most detailed account in my sleep journal. I wish I had put a date on this one to isolate the time period so that I could understand what else was going on in my life at the time.

Clearly, this was my mind-body's way of trying to communicate to me what had happened in my childhood. I was violated. I was defiled. This was during a time when my mother was exhibiting many schizophrenic symptoms though without any formal diagnosis. It was many years before we put the pieces of her disorder together. And though I do not remember his precise words, I have some semblance of memory that my abuser used my mother's mental illness as a way to swear me to secrecy.

"No one would believe you if you told, your mom is crazy and they will think you are too."

Dead Body Drag

circa early 1990's

I am going to visit my mother. There are relatively few environmental details this time. I am sitting on the couch with her at her house on my grandparent's farm. We are conversing and with little or no provocation, I kill her. I'm not sure how I did it, but now it is done. 

There are no wounds, but her dead body is already beginning to decay. Briefly the story of Hektor comes to mind. In The Iliad, his body is dragged around the city behind Achilles' chariot in order to desecrate his spirit; the ultimate dishonor in ancient Greek times. I don't want to desecrate my mother's body or spirit, but I do feel this compelling urge to drag her body around with me. 

And so I make a leash and collar out of some rope and plastic I found in the shed. I put her in a body bag and tie the rope to the top of it. I attach the plastic collar around my neck and fasten it tight, for I don't want it to fall off. I proceed to live out my days like normal, dragging my mother's dead body everywhere I go.


It is no secret that I have felt enormous responsibility for my mother's suicide attempts and, upon her unsuccessfulness, her well-being. I have spent a great number of years in my life (20+) trying to keep her alive and even attempts to infuse life into her.

Dee once told me that every fear is a wish and every wish is a fear. A great deal of my life's energy has been expended trying to prevent my mother's untimely death. But what if she had been successful? Would my life be easier now? I am aware of how harsh and ugly this sounds, but I am also aware that healing requires looking at my thoughts and actions from multiple sides. There is shame in thinking that my life would have been easier without her. But there is also great liberation in realizing that, after much consideration of alternatives, I am indeed not responsible for her life.

Today I have a much healthier relationship with my mother. I take care of her financially; I make sure that all of her basic needs are met. But my heart is no longer wrapped around her. I am living my own life, for her story is not my story. I honor the fact that she gave me life, but it is not my responsibility to give it back to her. And when she passes, I will not drag this guilt around with me for the rest of my days.

The Candy

circa early 1990's

I am in a rowboat or canoe with my older brother. The water is cool and calm around me. We are paddling down the river while the current pushes us along. He gives me some candy to eat; it is like Pop Rocks, the candy that crackles in your mouth. The candy is sweet and melts on and around my tongue. We float on down the river, peaceful. 

All of the sudden I feel a terrible pang in my stomach. I lean my head over the side of the boat so that I can throw up. The pain is unreal. I am throwing up shards of glass by the millions. They pierce my esophagus and cut my gums and tongue as they pass from my mouth. I can't stop. I am bleeding profusely as bigger chunks of glass begin to come up from the depths. 

Where did it come from? Why is this happening to me? The candy. It was the candy! I pull my head up from the side of the boat as pints of blood swarm in the water around us. Through my blood-soaked face I see my brother sitting across from me in the boat. He is laughing. He did it on purpose.


This dream confused me for many years because I actually have close and loving relationship with my brother. Now I understand this was my mind's way of trying to communicate the betrayal I had suffered at the hands of my abuse. He, too, endeared himself to me with closeness. My brother is simply a representation of the monster who comforted me during a tumultuous time in my childhood. The Wolf was keen to gain my trust to garner closeness before and through the moments of betrayal... the ultimate path to endearment and confusion for a child who desperately needed to be loved.

Broken glass is a theme within my mind's pain. This will reappear several time in my blog, particularly in my post Married to Crazy.