Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 39)

This is a continuation of my testimony which I began writing at Week 20, but more narrowly focused on my decades-long history with recurring dreams and nightmares. I’ve written of them before over the years, and shared how the Lord (through the counsel of my Pastor) instructed me to take authority over them. But never as part of my chronological testimony, nor as detailed as I have within the blog categories “My Story” and “Of Dreams and Nightmares”.

In my last post, I shared the nightmare that plagued me in my adult years (early 30’s through early 50’s). It began after the death of my abusive broken father, and a few years after my divorce finalized from “T”, an abusive sociopath to whom I was married for just under 10 years.

(Hmm. It just doesn’t sit well with me to label my dad as “abusive father” in this post, and yet I have no qualms about labeling “T” as abusive. I wonder why that is? Of course what he did to his daughters was abusive! But I now realize it was brokenness that drove him to violate our innocence. He repented, and aside from incest, he was a good dad. OMgosh-that sounds so crazy to write down!! Like saying: “OK Suzie, aside from losing your left arm, right leg, and both eyeballs, you’re just fine. Go out and live a happy and successful life.” But he was a good dad in many ways; he taught me fish, and drive. He taught me how to problem solve and surely my mechanical aptitude is from his influence. He worked hard to provide for his family, and rarely complained of the hardships of his life. I hate what my dad did to his daughters, but I love my dad. And I miss him. It comforts me to know that because he accepted Jesus as Lord, I’ll see him in heaven one day – restored to wholeness, emotionally and spiritually.

I have similar feelings about my mom. In a recent “Morning Sip” post I briefly mentioned the first time she disowned me as her daughter. It soon after I left “T”, and she had come to stay with me for a few weeks while we (my daughters and I) got settled into an apartment. I returned home from work one day, and my oldest daughter (7 years old) was terribly upset. When I asked what was the matter, she told me “Grandma told her not to cry in front of me, because it upset me.” We all walked on eggshells in my house growing up, because mom’s anger was fierce, and she did not like being crossed! But I didn’t want that for my girls, I wanted to protect them – not have them protect me! So as politely as I could, I explained to my mom that in this/my house, it was OK to cry. And then we had a heart to heart – she and I. I specifically remember laying my head on her lap, her stroking my hair, and I told her how alone I felt at certain times growing up. It seemed a precious mother-daughter connection. Two days later announced she was cutting her stay short because of a migraine. About a week later, I received a hand written card disowning me as her daughter. It was the first of 3 times she disowned me … then I stopped counting. The point is, that my daughters never knew their grandma – she threw me and them out like dirty old bathwater, and died never knowing how awesome they are, what incredible women of God they are, how they carry her strength and fortitude but without her brokenness. She was saved, but she still had a lot of brokenness in her life, with increasing complications of dementia in her later years. Like with my dad, I’m comforted to know that when I see her again in heaven, she will have cast off her brokenness and be the woman that God originally created her to be.

“Faith will not work with an unforgiving heart.” ~Gloria Copeland

“T” on the other hand … well, he was (probably still is) abusive and his behavior was very intentional, even methodical, and long term. And unlike my father when confronted in the hospital, “T” never repented. Never. Even when it cost him relationship with his children (and ultimately grandchildren), he still refused to acknowledge and own up to the destructiveness of his behavior. Unless the Lord gives him a heart transplant, he will most likely die never really knowing a good portion of his own children and grandchildren. Praise God that I’ve been able to forgive “T” for all he has done. I don’t like him, and certainly want nothing to do with him anymore … but I’ve forgiven him and have turned him over to the Lord for judgement. Please say a prayer for him – he is a lost soul headed for hell.)

Whoops – sorry about that spaghetti trail folks. Where was I?

Oh yea, the dream … THE dream. The visitor in the night dream. The very real physical feelings of being violated in my sleep dream. The dream that had its own “Siren Song”, seducing me to stay a while longer.

There were some aspects of The Dream that were initially pleasurable (if you get my drift), and I mentioned this once to Terri. She was the Worship Leader’s wife and survivor of long-term sexual abuse as a teen and young woman. Blushingly I said something along the lines of “everybody has dreams like this.” She looked at me like I had suddenly grown three heads … “No. No, they don’t,” she replied. A few weeks later, I was encircled by some mighty prayer warriors who laid hands on me and warred on my behalf. Not only were demonic spiritual ties broken off me, but they prophesied over me of my new identity in Christ Jesus. I began to understand that I didn’t have to be victim to the harassment of the enemy anymore – that Christ had already won the battle for me and what I needed to do was to learn to stand IN that victory. And as Bible-Truth began to take hold in my heart and spirit, my mind began to “defragment” and a new Operating System” was downloaded. I was learning to walk victoriously in my new Identity and in doing so, The Dream ceased to have power over me and soon thereafter stopped visiting me.

“It’s important to base your faith on what the Word says about any situation. Living by faith is a way of life for the believer. So begin to feed your inner man with the Word of God until he/she becomes strong.” ~Kenneth Copeland

But as I’ve said before – the devil hates losing territory. That is why we must remain alert, for the devil is a sneaky cuss!

Like a fisherman changes tactics when the fish aren’t striking on one bait, the devil will change tactics and come at you a different way when from time to time. And like any true Angler, the devil will also periodically shuffle through his tackle box of tactics to see if any of the old baits will now work in a new season of your life. The good news is that the devil is a defeated foe and while we may be inclined by our fallen nature “take the bait” from time to time, Jesus Christ has removed all the hooks from his lures! We are only held captive if we keep our mouth closed over the bait … but if we will open our mouths and profess our victory in the Name of Jesus Christ, the devil is utterly powerless to prevent our escape!!

Amen! (I really like that analogy!!)

Another spaghetti trail … can you tell I’ve been fishing this summer?!?!?? 😊

Several years later, and after moving across country, I began experiencing The Dream again. I was still a single parent, and except for my church family (spiritual moms, dads, sisters and brothers), I’d lost relationship with most of my own family due to my mom’s brokenness and false accusations she made against me. Anyways, as my girls hit their teens they did some teen stuff. It was a rough season for a lot of reasons, and at a very tired and vulnerable place in my life, The Dream returned.

“Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” ~1 Peter 5:8 (GNT)

I can’t tell you how disturbing this was to me! I’d experienced victory over The Dream for several years, and yet here it was again! And this time, it seemed even more demonic because it held me captive in a type of foggy “in-betweenness” (suspended between sleep and wakefulness) while continuing to violate me … and I felt utterly helpless to do anything about it!! Eventually, I called my Pastor, who gave me the counsel that flipped the game and in time put the enemy on the run!

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance
STEP 2: Download a Superior Operating System
STEP 3: Prepare – prepare for battle

  • Put on your armor  (actually, put on HIS armor – it works every time!)
  • Guard your eyes, ears and thoughts
  • Open your mouth and speak God’s Word over your life/situation/circumstances (almost guaranteed I’m going to write about this in an upcoming post :))
  • Feed your Spirit (this too! :))
Of Dreams and Nightmares (preview2)  www.puttinghopetowork.com
Of Dreams and Nightmares (preview2) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

STEP 4: Position – position yourself for the greatest advantage over the enemy

  • Pray before going to bed  (hope-filled, expectant prayers of faith that God will guard and protect you in your sleep)
  • Worship, Worship, Worship  (worshipping ushers in the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, the enemy will flee!!)
  • Speak the Name of Jesus (even demons fear His Name!)
  • When weary, ADP! (Apply Direct Pressure!)

STEP 5:  Punch – when the enemy draws near you, you’ve got to ball up your fist, and PUNCH-HIM-OUT!

  • Stir up your faith and TROUBLE the one who is troubling you!  Really hit him where it hurts by quoting Scripture to him and calling on your Daddy-God to strengthen you.  Rebuke that old devil and command he leave in Jesus Name … and He will!!  Not because you’re oh so mighty and powerful – but because your Daddy-God is giving the him the evil-eye (because you called on Him as your defender, and because you trust in Him to be faithful to His Word to do so! ), and there ain’t no devil in hell that wants to lock horns with your Daddy!!  (he’s already done that, and is still whimpering about it!)
  • Personally, I like to meditate on the verses where the devil gets his teeth knocked clear out of his face!!  (Psalm 3:7, Psalm 58:6)   🙂

Reference posts for Steps 3-5: The Nightmare and the Warrior (5 post series), Staying Positive in Difficult Times, 911 (Part 2) When the Enemy is at the Door, Battle Weary? ADP!

I hope you’ll take a few moments to read the posts referenced for greater insight (maybe a little humor too).

In my next post I’ll reveal the completed artwork and wrap up this series. It’s a good ending, I promise!!

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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.

 

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 38)

My grandpa served in WW1, my dad in WW2, brothers and cousins in the Vietnam War and Cold War, cousins and nephews in the Gulf War and many campaigns on the War on Terrorism. Thank God, all returned home from their service, but not all returned home unscathed.

Firstly, for those reading who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces or as First responders, or family members of those who have served –thank you for your service! Your sacrifice to make America and the world a safer place is deeply appreciated.

A beloved nephew has wrestled with PTSD since his return home. Flashbacks and nightmares have haunted him. I may not completely understand his trauma and pain, but I can relate to it.

I have friends who for other reason are almost terrified to go to sleep at night for fear of what they might dream; and that anxiety makes it near impossible for them to fall asleep in the first place – let alone sleep restfully and peacefully when sheer exhaustion overtakes them.

I’ve had seasons of my life when I feared going to sleep at night – afraid of what I might dream or worse still, remember. I think this is one of the cruelest schemes of the enemy … the stealing of our sleep. And since he steals while we are in a diminished state of consciousness, we are powerless to do anything about it. Or that’s what I used to think. (More about that in the next post … probably the next post).

Right now, I’m reading Mark Batterson’s book “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day (How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars)”. I’m only a few chapters in because I am finding so many nuggets of truth and wisdom that I want to chew on each one a while before moving to the next chapter, lest I overlook the very truth that I need to overcome the lions facing me today. Chapter 4 is entitled “Unlearning Your Fears” and it perfectly complements what the Lord put on my heart for this post.

If you’ll recall, at the beginning of this series (Of Dreams and Nightmares), I described two of my recurring dreams as “processing dreams” and “veiled remembrances”. By the time I was dreaming those dreams, I’d already been equipped with enough Scripture by Counselor John to know and trust that if Jesus allowed me to remember something, He would be there with me in the remembrance to help me deal with it. (Isaiah 43:1-3,13; Isaiah 54:4,14,17; Psalm 91; Philippians 1:28; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Timothy 1:7). So even though I had some anxiety about the possibility of remembering something terrible that I didn’t really want to remember, I also wanted to know the truth about my past and understood that some of that truth might come by allowing my psyche to release fragmented memories of things that happened decades ago. With that understanding, I tried to embrace the process of remembering/processing, and I was able to lay my head down on the pillow at night and sleep because I had greater confidence in Jesus’s love for me than I had in any dream to derail my sanity (which was of course the taunt of the enemy – that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the truth or the lie he served up masquerading as the truth).

Of Dreams and Nightmares, partial reveal www.puttinghopetowork.com
Of Dreams and Nightmares, partial reveal

But there is more to the healing process just remembering, because if remembering alone brought healing then why would so many people need medication (physician or self-prescribed) to help deal with nightmares and night terrors, PTSD, panic attacks? Remembering nightmares would actually be a good thing, because those nightmares with their fragmented and sometimes veiled menories would be the process to healing, right?

“Almost like a hard drive with a computer virus, our minds have infected files. Irrational fears and misconceptions keep us from operating the way we were designed to. And if those fears and misconceptions aren’t uninstalled, they undermine everything we do.

Half of learning is learning. The other half of learning is unlearning. Unfortunately, unlearning is twice as hard as learning. … Unlearning is twice as hard, and it often takes twice as long. It is harder to get old thoughts out of your mind than it is to get new thoughts into your mind.”

~Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Stormy Day

Com’mon … that makes no sense whatsoever!

Remembering in and of itself does not bring healing. Remembering alone often feels like we are reliving the moment over and over again, it induces fear and terror and heightened anxiety.

No, my friend. It’s the remembering and processing while being overshadowed in the knowledge of how deeply we are loved by God that brings healing … for it is only by the power of His love that we can un-learn the fear that is tethered to those memories and allow faith in Jesus to over-write our memories and re-write our stories!

“Half of spiritual growth is learning what we don’t know. The other half is unlearning what we do know. And it is the failure to unlearn irrational fears and misconceptions that keeps us from becoming who God wants us to be.

The invalid in John 5 is a great example of the importance of unlearning. He had been crippled for thirty-eight years when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. But the man believed here was only one way to be healed:

“I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

This man made an assumption that may have cost him thirty-eight years! He had only one category for healing. … In a sense, he was imprisoned by what he knew. But Jesus uninstalled that mistaken belief with one sentence: “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!”

Now, here is what you need to see. Jesus didn’t just set this man free physically. He set him free cognitively. Faith is unlearning the senseless worries and misguided believes that keep us captive. It is far more complex than simply modifying behavior. Faith involves synaptogenesis. Faith is rewiring the human brain.”

~Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Mark goes on to explain that just like a computer’s memory periodically needs to be defragmented, our computer-like minds also need to be defragmented. And the way to do that is to upgrade the Operating Systems of our minds by downloading Scripture into our minds and spirits. Because when we read and meditate on Scripture (the Words and unshakeable Promises of God recorded for us), we are recruiting new nerve cells and rewiring neuronal connections. In short, “we stop thinking human thoughts and start thinking God’s thoughts!”

I’m really holding myself back folks – I’m tempted to quote the entire contents of Chapter 3 for you, it’s that good! But hopefully by now you get the gist.

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance.
STEP 2: Download a Superior Operating System
If we want to overcome the torment of dreams and nightmares, be it the result of PTSD or some other condition or experience, then we must (a) defragment our minds from the corrupt material that is playing/replaying in our heads (during waking or sleeping hours) and (b) download a Superior Operating System to overwrite fear altogether! And that superior SOS is the Word of God!

And with that, I’ll pause and allow you to chew on all this … maybe even go out and buy yourself a copy of In A Pit With A Lion On A Story Day 😊 and read it before my next post and the continuation of my story.

As always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts and reactions to this post – please drop me a comment below. Praying sweet sleep over you, with a calm and defragmented mind renewed daily by the Power of His Word living in you.

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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.

Morning Sip

On of my treasured memories from my tweens and teens was walking down the hall in the morning to see my mom sitting in her favorite chair, Bible on her lap, and cup of coffee on the side table.

My next most treasured memory is the remembrance of her voice singing hymns in the kitchen as she worshiped her Lord and Savior while washing dishes.

It was late 1986 that we all drove up to visit my family in Oregon, and staying several nights with my mom. It felt so wonderful to walk down the hall again in the morning to see her reading her Bible while sipping coffee. It was so nurturing to my spirit to listen to her softly sing while cleaning house.

While out with my sisters, I found a small book in a consignment shop that reminded me of my mom. Published in 1889, the book is a collection of poems inspired by Scripture and is entitled “Fullness of Joy” by Cecilia Havergal and others. I gave the book to her as a thank you for letting us stay, and I wrote on the inside cover:

“Dear Mom,
Thank you for opening your house to “T” and I and the kids during our visit. You’re a wonderful mother, and an even better friend. I love you, your daughter, Jenny”

When my mom passed, this book was found amongst her things and returned to me as a remembrance.

But now when I hold it, I feel a tear in my heart … for not only does it remind me of the occasion when she loved me in 1986, but it also reminds me of the first time she disowned me as her daughter. I know that the onset of dementia was at least a contributing factor to her increasing mean-spiritedness in her later years. It’s as though in the fog of dementia, she lost her ability to “filter” out the venom in her heart when crossed or otherwise angered.

“So the LORD answers, ‘Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.'” ~Isaiah 49:15 (GNT)

For those of us who have had parents that have wounded us in word or in action, let us not ascribe their shortcomings and failures to the character of God, our Heavenly Father. Where human love fails, God’s love never fails and it never gives up (or abandons)!

And true to His Word, God brought people into my life who would fill those gaps in my soul and spirit – spiritual parents, mothers and fathers, I’ve many of them over the years. The love and nurture that my own parents were unable to give because of their own brokenness, others gave me – teaching and training me (healing me) so that in time I could be a better parent to my own children.

He will do the same for you!

“God places lonely people in families. He leads prisoners out of prison into productive lives..” ~Psalm 68:6 (God’s Word Translation)

Thank you Daddy-God, that Your love is unconditional and utterly unshakeable. You are a kind and loving Father to the parent-less (fatherless / motherless), and You place the orphaned into new families!

Morning Sips

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 37)

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.'” (Psalm 55:4-8)

I wonder if the Psalmist was writing about things that were happening during his waking hours, or if he was writing about the terrors that come at night. Perhaps both, probably both. I’m certain the Psalmist had seen enough violence to be at least occasionally harassed in his sleep by nightmares.

The Mayo Clinic describes Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as “a mental condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Intrusive memories
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Avoidance
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Feeling detached from family and friends
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
Being easily startled or frightened
Always being on guard for danger
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
Trouble sleeping
Trouble concentrating
Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event

I have had recurring nightmares of one sort or another for most of my life. As a child, I had recurring dreams about a stick-figure man who came to my bed at night, and also dreams of my father jumping off a train to his death or accidentally falling and dying of a head wound. Not exactly normal dreams for a 8-9 year old!

When in my mid-late 20’s (after the death of my father), I began having a series of recurring dreams that were about “familiar but unrecognizable” places … places with labyrinths of interconnecting bedrooms, bedrooms where evil lived. I didn’t dream them every night – and often there would be gaps of weeks or even months between them. At first, I blamed them on yesterday’s dinner. But over time, I began to realize that I was dreaming of the same places over and over and over again. The places portrayed in them so familiar to me that I knew them almost as well as I knew my own home. I would frequently think to myself within the dream, or even say upon waking … “I’ve been there before.” And yet I knew of no places like these, so no – I’d never been there. They were just dreams, right?

IMG_20180908_143042064_HDR.jpg

In my 30’s (after finally divorcing my abusive 2nd husband (“T”), determined by the Courts to be a sociopath) I began having recurring dreams of someone/something visiting me at night, using my body for its pleasure. These dreams were particularly disturbing for me on a couple of fronts:

  1. Because they felt like “present day” experiences, meaning these did not feel like veiled remembrances of something from my past, but rather like I was being visited and violated now
  2. Because they were very difficult to wake up from, and therefore they seemed to continue well past the point when you’re awake enough to know that you’re dreaming, but not awake enough to get out of the dream. So there I would remain, in the dream, trying desperately to wake myself from the dream, so that I could open my eyes and confirm that it was only a dream.

In my last post, I mentioned moving with my daughters about an hour’s distance from “T”. In that beautiful coastal community, we found a fantastic church and we began to thrive.

One Sunday, the Pastor Daniel told of two sisters he met doing some missions work overseas. He described how one had been repeatedly violated by a family member, while the other sister (thought to be sleeping) was in the room and therefore a witness to her siblings abuse. Oh the torment of soul she carried, and Pastor noted that one doesn’t have to be the physical victim in order to be abused. As he shared that story, something within me began to violently shake and quake. I found it near impossible to breath, and before he finished I had practically ran out of the sanctuary – barely able to contain myself. “Is that what happened Lord?”, I asked. “Is that what was so upsetting to me at age 3?”

Fly Away
“Fly Away” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

It is an established truth that my sisters were abused (my dad didn’t deny it, and my sisters had full recollection of it). That they had memories and I didn’t made me somehow feel like I was “a poser” to say I’d been abused too. Hearing Pastor Daniel retell the experience of these two sisters, and my reaction to it, finally gave me courage to say “Yes, it happened to me too, I was abused too.”

I still had questions, for I still had very few memories of my childhood due to dissociative amnesia, but it was another step on the journey to truthfulness.

Thankfully the majority of people don’t have PTSD, recurring nightmares, or other symptoms common to trauma or abuse. But we ALL experience fear. And it is of FEAR, and the power of FEAR that I will write in my next post.

Until then, may the King of Peace overshadow you with His righteous right hand, and grant you sweet sleep.

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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.

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 36)

I suppose we all have similar wrestling’s when we dare to step out of our comfort zone and attempt to do something ‘bigger than ourselves.’ The last few weeks, a not-so-kind and not-so-small voice has been taunting me with questions like “Who are you to _____ (speak of life and liberty, hope and deliverance)? I know the truth about you.” So let’s just get this out of the way right now: I’m a flawed human. I’ve got junk, struggles, and issues. My life is a mix of highs and lows, failures and successes. And I still deal with many of the things I write about in my blog posts. Why?? Simple; because even though I may have gained a certain level of victory in these areas, we all know that ‘the devil don’t like losing!’ He is always, and I mean ALWAYS, trying to regain territory lost to him – be it 2000 years ago, 20 years ago, or 20 minutes ago.

“And I said, ‘this is my anguish, But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old, I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds; Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?” ~Psalm 77:10-13

As I’ve been preparing to start this next series of posts on the subject of Dreams and Nightmares, which is really a focused continuation of my chronological testimony (aka “My Story”), the instructions of the Old Testament about ‘remembering’ have taken on new colors of meaning for me.

“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’” ~Deuteronomy 4:9-10

To the enemy of my soul that taunts me for revisiting all these old wounds and places of soul torment, my response is: “I will not forget. I shall remember the works of the LORD, surely I will remember His wonders and of the miracles He performed on our behalf. He has brought us out and given us liberty as promised. Who is so great a God as my God!”

And with that as my confession (proclamation) of faith, let us begin …

Considering all I went through up to the age of 30 (I left “T” just a few months before my 31st birthday), I think it funny that it is THIS subject that brings tears to my eyes. I suspect that’s because by the very nature of dissociation, much of my childhood terrors seem very distant to me and at some level I was still practicing dissociation (or at least I was trying to) during the chaos taking place in my second marriage. As Counselor John once told me, “dissociation was a self-preservation mechanism needed to survive the abuse of my childhood … but the practices that saved me as a child were wreaking havoc in my adult life! I had to grow up and learn how to deal with my life”.

Well, in the early 1990’s, I was doing just that – growing up and learning to deal with my life. I left “T” mid-1991, and while we were in/out of court for another 2-3 years, I was learning to stand up to him; to speak loudly on behalf of myself and my daughters, and to carry a big stick (i.e. the protection of the Father and the favor of Family Court Services who pegged him in about 10-seconds flat!).

By the mid 90’s, my daughters and I were settling down into some resemblance of a normal life. We had a great church family, friends who loved us, and I was on a good career path in selling technical manufacturing services to the electronics industry. Even greater peace and healing came in approx. 1995 (?) when we moved about an hour away and closer to one of my sisters. That extra distance between me and “T and She” meant I was no longer over my shoulder for sight of them in the parking lot of the grocery store, etc. Wow! What a difference.

Eventually I was able to purchase a small house – a sprawling 832 square foot home on the frontage road to the freeway. It was perfect for us and a complete miracle that I secured with a $100 earnest deposit and a promise to buy it in 3 years (I’d love to tell you about that sometime!). Before escrow closed, I made a deal with “T” that I would waive off child support if he would give me a lump sum payment for back support (as I was a little short of funds). Some might think that was foolish – that I should have taken him to court and gotten what was due us. But in truth, I just wanted to be done with him! I hated being tied to him for finances, knowing that he could still jerk me this-way-and-that anytime he wanted just by dinking around with child support payments. Besides, by then I knew I had a Daddy God and Heavenly Husband that was more than able to provide for me! So I cut my ties with “T” and put my total dependence upon my God … best move ever!!

I can’t put my finger on exactly when I first started dreaming again – but I think it was while I was still seeing Counselor John (toward the end of my marriage) because I remember fearing these dreams marked the ‘opening of a door’ to past remembrances and I was terrified of being assaulted in my sleep by recollections of my childhood (and of things that took place while I was in a state of dissociation). I did want to have a better understanding of myself, of my past, and to be truthful about what happened – but if I could do that without remembering details, well that was A-OK with me! Again, Counselor John comforted me with the truth that if memories did come, that I didn’t have to be afraid of them – Jesus would walk through them with me, rather like the Good Shepherd walks through the valley of the Shadow of Death with (accompanying, comforting, and protecting) His sheep.

This first wave of dreams that I’ll write about is what I consider “veiled remembrances”.

THE LONG HOUSE
This dream evolved around a long barn-like structure located on the backside of an unknown property. Once inside and running the full length of the structure, there were a series of interconnected bedrooms – most having adjoining doors so that you could walk from one room to another down the full length of the structure. But there were a few rooms that had other, smaller rooms nested within them. These rooms you could only access from a specific bedroom. There was also a very long hallway running the length of the structure, but the hallway only accessed 2-3 bedrooms – most you had to access by going through another room. There was a time when I could tell you which room belonged to whom, but I have since forgotten. But I do recall that mine was a “nested room”, adjoining to my sister’s room. There was always lots of wandering from room to room in this dream; it wasn’t particularly frightening to me, but somewhat reminiscent of a game of hide and seek.

“Of Dreams and Nightmares” (a work in progress) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

TRAP DOORS AND TUNNELS
Another sequence of dreams consists of two quasi-connected houses. The first house looked nothing like the house I remember growing up in, but I knew it represented ours. Somewhere in the house was a trap door and ladder that connected to underground tunnels and secret and connected bedrooms. It took me years of dreaming this dream before I could bring myself to open the trap door and go down more than 3-4 steps on that ladder – for I knew ‘darkness’ was down there. But as my heart and spirit was finding healing in the present day, in time I dared to go down further into that creepy underground tunnel. The first bedroom contained several bunk beds and I think I recognized it as belonging to my older siblings. But the farther into the cavern of connected bedrooms you went, the more confusion and evil those rooms emitted– some rooms I refused to enter altogether.

And as for that ‘connected’ house? Even in my dream state I was hyper vigilant to ensure the kitchen door that accessed the shared mudroom connecting the two houses remained securely locked at all times. Something evil lived in or came to visit from that house. I hated this dream!

One might ask ‘what triggered these dreams and veiled remembrances?’

Initially, I think it was the acknowledgement of my own abuse that (you can read more about that here) that opened the doorway for processing dreams and an increasing flow of fragmented memories (as experienced, internalized, remembered from the viewpoint of a very small child). Naturally, they don’t always make a lot of sense, but given my age at the time of the abuse – that seems perfectly reasonable to me. Once I understood that Jesus was present with me even in my veiled remembrances, I stopped fearing these dreams and just allowed my psyche to let go of what it needed to let go of – to process what it needed to process.

“I will not forget. I shall remember the works of the LORD, surely I will remember His wonders and of the miracles He performed on our behalf. He has brought us out and given us liberty as promised. Who is so great a God as my God!”

For those of you who have read along with me these past several months, thank you for listening! These writings have been surprisingly healing for me – or perhaps “enlightening” is a better word. I have never before given my testimony in chronological order, and it has been through the exercise of putting these snippets together in order that I’ve not only gained greater understanding of my past, but I am better able to see the presence of God in my life – my whole life – shielding me, comforting me, calling me, drawing me out, strengthening me, and liberating me!

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statues, and the judgements which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore to our Fathers.” ~Deuteronomy 6:21-23

Do you suffer from nightmares or have trouble sleeping at night, either from fearful anticipation of dreams/remembrances or perhaps some form of insomnia? I’m sharing my story for YOU! I long to encourage you with the hope and good news of Jesus Christ; that HE is BIGGER than even your worst nightmare and that He has PROMISED in His unchangeable and unshakable Word to give you (His beloved) sweet sleep! It’s yours, and over the course of these next several blog posts I’m going to share with you how the Lord taught me to take hold of (appropriate) that promise of sweet sleep!
Here’s a simple (but lifechanging) practice you can start working on right now:

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance.
You are not alone as the enemy would have you think. King Jesus is well able to transcend all space and time, and it is His deepest longing to be with you and comfort you as you process painful memories from the past, confront trials encountered in your present, and envelope you with His strength and protection as you walk with Him into your future.
When you put your head on your pillow at night, visualize Jesus sitting on the edge of your bed. Worship Him and talk with Him as pull up the covers – and hear His voice speaking back to you – His loving and peace-filled voice lulling you to a state of trusted relaxation. Surrender to His peace, knowing that He will never leave you, and that He has assigned angels to protect you while you sleep (not that they’re needed, because if HE is with you – aint no devil in hell gonna mess with you!). Quiet yourself, and listen for the sound of His heartbeat in the room. Then sleep, my friend. You are His beloved, and He longs for you to sleep in peace.

“…For He gives sleep to His beloved.” ~Psalm 127:2

Many years later, I had another dream – a singular dream – but it was very impactful. I perceive it as being a crescendo moment. But before I tell you about that rather complex dream, I need to tell you about my adult nightmares first.

Until my next post, may He overshadow you with His peace and protection, and grant you sweet sleep.

(Artwork updated 09/08/2018)

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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.