In my last post, I wrote about my childhood dreams. These were not the kind of dreams you have and then wake wondering if they were brought on by too much pepperoni pizza. My childhood dreams (the four previously described) were very detailed, frequent, and repetitive. They are just as familiar to me now as they were then, except that thank God, I don’t dream them anymore. But I can “replay them” in my mind’s eye, just like one can replay scenes from a movie you’ve watched way too many times.
Dissociative amnesia is one of a group of conditions called dissociative disorders. Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, consciousness, awareness, identity, and/or perception. When one or more of these functions is disrupted, symptoms can result. These symptoms can interfere with a person’s general functioning, including social and work activities, and relationships.
I know I was very young when I had them, and I vaguely remember being around 9 or so when they abruptly stopped. I had finally gotten the courage to tell my mom about them. I’m just guessing about my age because I honestly have very few memories of my childhood before the 6th grade. But I remember telling her, and somehow, in the way my little mind processed her answer, what I heard was:
“I’m going to talk to your dad about them, and if they don’t stop, we’ll take you to see a doctor”.
I internalized that as something was wrong with me. Immediately the dreams stopped. Not just the stick man, but all four of them. No more dreams of my dad falling or jumping off a train. No more dreams of flying. They stopped so abruptly and so completely that I forgot all about them until I was in my late 20’s and had started seeing a Christian Counselor to help me cope with the insanity that was my 2nd marriage.
I began seeing Counselor John in approx.1989 during the last few years of my 2nd marriage. Early into those counseling, John had asked me to remember back to my earliest childhood memory. I told him I couldn’t remember much of anything before 6th grade, but he kept asking and so eventually I told him about a story I’d heard my mom and siblings tell dozens of times about when I was 3 years old. He asked me to calm myself and try to remember, and through a form of hypnosis guided me backwards in time and had me describe what I saw. At first, it seemed like nonsense to me … even as he guided me inwards and backwards in time, I knew full well I was a 28-ish year old woman sitting in a counseling office, trying to remember something I couldn’t. And then it happened. Like the movies you see of a spacecraft going through hyperspace, where all the stars swish by so fast it looks like you’re traveling through a tunnel, all the sudden I ‘swooshed’ back approx. 25 years. And what I encountered shook me so deeply that I told John that I never wanted to go there again!
“I will bring the blind by a way they do not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16 (NKJV)
And where did I go? What did I encounter?
The family story is that I was three years old and had climbed up the kitchen counters and somehow gotten my hands on one of my mom’s glass serving platters. I had dropped it and it shattered into pieces on the kitchen floor. The story is that I followed my mom around for several days afterwards crying, pleading, and begging her … “Please mommy! Please don’t stop loving me.”
What I encountered when I “swooshed” back to that kitchen of linoleum countertops and blue cupboards was a terrified little girl who was in such utter pain of soul and spirit that it just broke me. For the few seconds that I could stand to be in that place of recessed memory, I knew instantly that this pain not from breaking a platter! This pain is from something altogether different. Something I didn’t want to know about. Something I never wanted to experience again.
That internal pain of that 3-year old girl eventually manifested itself into the recurring nightmares of my early childhood. To the best of my reconstructive abilities, I told my mom about those dreams around age 9. Soon thereafter, in response to the way I processed her response, I boxed up and locked up all those childhood traumas and put them neatly into the attic of my soul where they remained undisturbed for many years.
“You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;” Isaiah 62:2-4(NKJV)
While I was painting the “Shattered Heart” piece, my 5-year old granddaughter approached to peek over my shoulders. It was incomplete, but far enough along that I was a little concerned about how she might process what she saw.
What are you painting, Nana. (Me: Just a girl)
Oh. Is that her heart? Did something make her sad? (Yes honey)
Is it Mommy? (no)
What’s her name? (she doesn’t have one)
Let’s call her “Violet”. Write “Violet” up here on the top … and draw a heart.
You can color it in if you want. (Ok honey)
I love that girl! What a tender and sensitive little heart she has. She is completely innocent, and it is a balm to my heart that my grandchildren have no first-hand knowledge of this pain. Their tears are presently related to stuffies that can’t go to church, skinned knees, tubbies and bed times.
So please allow me to introduce you to “Miss Violet”. She is both a reflection of the wounded child that I was, and a reminder to me of the loving tenderness the Father has for this same wounded child. For He looked upon me, saw my desperate need for safety and protection, and enveloped me into the Secret Place of His presence.
More than that, He saw fit to give me a new name … “Daughter.”
He became mine, and I became His.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.