My mother used to tell me that my memories were just dreams. That was one of her many methods she used to invalidate me. However, there is a fine line between dreams and reality. Our dreams have a way of telling us what is happening in our unconscious. The dream I had last night is case and point.
I was living in a castle with my parents. This castle was ancient. Only the stone walls barely stood. There was no roof and no doors. My parents were sorcerers. They mixed potions and used them to meet their needs. I spent much of my day attempting to replicate their potions. Even though I usually knew exactly what the potions contained, I never succeeded, because the potion ingredients would constantly change.
This dream represents many aspects of my childhood. An old and crumbling infrastructure with no privacy describes my home life quite well. The inconsistency of the requirements within my household was a constant source of frustration when I was a child. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be successful. But it just wasn’t possible.
However, the aspect of this dream that I examined most closely was my parents’ sorcery. I found it fascinating that I considered my parents to be magical in this dream. That judgmental part of me spoke up very quickly. “Why would I think they were magical? That’s stupid.” But honestly, why would I not think they were magical? I was a child. And children believe in magic. They believe a man in a red suit can travel the world in one night. They believe bunnies leave us eggs. And they are pretty sure their mothers have eyes in the back of their heads. My kids are very sure.
And because of my need to dissociate, I took the magical world to a new level. I would talk to stuffed animals and real animals. I had imaginary friends. I would search my natural surroundings for creatures like fairies and unicorns. I do believe all children do this, but for me, it was a survival technique. If I could not find meaning in the real world, I would find it in another world, a world I could understand, a world where evil did not exist, or at least never won.
And to be honest, unlike most parents, my parents were attempting to deceive me. They wanted me to believe they were all powerful. It was critical to their success in breaking me. If I thought there was even one small weakness, I would have used it to escape my situation. They knew that. I knew that. My entire childhood was one long conversation in which they convinced me they were perfect and all powerful. And they did convince me. Until I started my recovery, I was sure of it. How can you argue with perfect people? Even worse, how can you defy them?
Even after all of these years, there is apprehension about my separation from my parents. I have always felt that they would come after me in one form or another. Maybe they would make life difficult through other people. Maybe they would create confusion in my life. Maybe they would stalk me. Maybe they would attempt to hurt me. Honestly, these are very real fears because they have done all of these in my childhood.
But underneath all of it was this belief that they had more control over my life than is actually humanly possible. This belief that they are indeed magical, that they can impact my life karmically, has inhibited me in my own growth and recovery. It feels as though they are watching me even though they are nowhere near me. It is what paranoia comes from. And for me, there has always been a paranoia that runs my life from the unconscious.
So, I will work with this child part who thinks my parents are magical. When things go wrong in my life, I will work to understand them as a part of life and not the product of karmic punishment handed down by my scorned parents. The more I do this, the less I will feel overwhelming emotional responses to everyday inconveniences. I know my anxiety will be lessened through this integrated understanding.
It is interesting how the most morally vacant people on the planet work so hard to convince others of their power. They build up an amazing house of cards (or crumbling castle) to convince the rest of the world they are perfect in every way. And the children believe them. Because why would they lie? How else could they have known that? How else could they fool the entire world? And those same children spend a lifetime unraveling the real story from the web of lies. Some never do. But those that do come away with an amazing perspective. There is good. There is evil.
And neither side gets to claim perfection.