I had some horrible dreams last night, all of them very in depth and detail-oriented, all of the about DH's parents. I'd wake up from one dream, think about it for a few minutes, and then doze into another restless sleep that was wrought with more of the same message from my subconscious: These evil people are after you and those you love. Beware.
All my life, I've had very vivid dreams, and I've always been a big believer in the idea that dreams are our subconscious brains' method of communicating to our conscious selves. Our dreams reveal our deepest fears, desires, and longings. They show us that which we may not want to deal with during our waking hours, and can often times force us to deal with issues we are afraid of. In my case, I don't think last night's dreams revealed any fears that I haven't already dealt with; but they did make me more aware of the fact that DH and I are not yet completely free of the anxieties that plagued us in years past.
The following are snippets of last night's dreams that I remember most vividly:
- In one dream, EFIL and L were having dinner at my parent's house. DH, our children, EFIL and L, and my parents were all seated around the dinner table and I felt increasingly hostile towards EFIL and L as the meal wore on. At times, I felt as though I were more an observer than a participant in the dream, and at one point, I was even floating over the table, as though I were there in spirit rather than in person. What I remember most clearly about this particular dream was the moment in which EFIL and L attempted to bribe us with money. I do not know what they wanted in return, but I do know that they were making subtle attempts to get us to capitulate with them by insinuating that they had a lot of money to give us, if only we did what they wanted. L commented that she had just won first prize in a gardening competition, and in my dreamscape, I understood that to mean that there was a lot of money involved. My mom made a sarcastic comment to me along the lines of, "Gee, I guess you better reconsider their offer." And the way she said it made me feel that she knew exactly what they were up to and she was letting me know that I wasn't wrong in my unspoken assessment.
- In that same dream, EFIL and L began making comments about how "Science isn't real" which greatly angered me. I felt that they were insinuating that our reality wasn't real because it didn't jive with theirs. I also knew that they were presenting their "side" of things (ie Christianity, or more specifically, their version of it) as being superior to ours. In my dream world, the juxtaposition between "us" and "them" was represented in the very obvious and age-old argument of science vs. religion. In the real world, those two "sides" have been fighting each other since the dawn of time, neither side ever really being able to coincide in harmony with the other. At one point, I muttered, "Well, there is science in gardening" as a way to try and show them how absurd it was to say that "Science isn't real" and perhaps as an attempt to show them that our world (as represented by science) and their world (as represented by L's gardening) CAN exist together.
- In another dream, I heard noises in our bathroom and when I went to investigate, I discovered a naked man standing in the landing of our attic. I knew that he wasn't the real threat, and that he was hiding something or someone who meant me harm. I accosted him, asking why he was there and what he wanted. He revealed to me that NMIL was up in our attic, that she had had sex with him there, and that she had also been sleeping with all of my ex-boyfriends. He then hurriedly got dressed and left. When I looked up the attic stairs, it was very dark and I could see NMIL's shape outlined by the faintest bit of light. She was also naked and she began throwing things from the attic at me. I quickly closed the door.
- I woke up from that dream, but when I went back to sleep, I could not shake the images from my brain and felt as though I had tumbled back into the same exact dream. I stood outside the attic door and tried to figure out how to get her out of there. This time, in the dream, I understood her to be a witch, even though I hadn't seen her true form to know what she looked like.
- What I suppose can be called a "battle" ensued. In my dream, NMIL was always shrouded in darkness and she hurled curses at me and my children. Her "curses" were nothing more than chants and words, but I could see them so I could evade them. I remember at one point I began reading from a pile of books in an attempt to find counter-curses and a means to destroy NMIL.
- I don't know if she ended up hitting me with a curse, but in the same dream, for a while I was incapacitated and lying in a bed. I was paralyzed. I could not move or speak, but I could think. I kept thinking.
- The worst part of the dream for me was when NMIL hit DD with some kind of curse and for a while she was paralyzed as well. In the dream, I felt as though she were somehow possessed. Eventually, when I was able to resuscitate her (an endeavor I carried on for what felt like hours and hours because I refused to give up) she bore a strange mark, etched into her skin, on the back of her shoulder. I couldn't read the word because it only looked like a jumble of letters to me, but it bothered me terribly because I knew NMIL put it there and that it wouldn't go away.
DH and I talked about these dreams this morning and came up with a couple of thoughts about them: NMIL's presence in our attic, as well as her promiscuous behaviors with my exes, represents her clear and continued attempts to cross my boundaries, as well as her often-times heinous intrusion on my privacy. In real life, our attic represents a special place in the house - it's where I keep some of our most treasured memories. For instance, each of my baby's has a bucket, where I put their keepsakes and most special things. As other examples, DH and I keep our wedding mementos in the attic: pictures, invitations, my dress. And, I even have a box of my old journals up there, all of which obviously contain very personal information about me - some of them even contain entries that I wrote while I was dating. If there is any room in our house where NMIL's presence would feel like a real invasion, it's definitely our attic; thus that was prime location in my dream.
Something I think is interesting: In both the dream, and in the real world, I did not have any sense of shame or embarrassment in knowing that NMIL had slept with my exes, nor over the knowledge that she was probably going through our memories in the attic. Actually, I wasn't angry about it either. It was just kind of matter-of-fact, much like it would be if I knew we had an infestation of vermin up there. "Yup. Evil NMIL is up there, naked, in my attic. Now how do I get her out of there?" Perhaps this is because I know that I have nothing to hide. Perhaps it is because she could literally sleep with my exes in real life and I really wouldn't care (several of them were schmucks anyway - and one, in particular, would be a perfect match for her as he was also a narcissist). But either way, I didn't feel uneasy about the fact that NMIL was apparently trying to "dig up" information about my past.
I believe her nudity in my dream was actually a symbol of her powerlessness. She is fully exposed. Even when I can't see her because she is shrouded in darkness or because she is not "present" in our lives, I can and will always be able to See her.
I think that the act of NMIL throwing things from our attic at me, was a further representation of my feeling that NMIL would use anything, including information she may think is out there about me, to try and hurt us. In other words, she is exactly the kind of person who might attempt to stick her nose in the pasts of her enemies, in order to attempt to maim them with whatever information she might possibly dig up. She'll throw your own shit at you if she can get her hands on it.
NMIL's only "power" in my dream was in her words. That's all she has in real life and so that is all she was allowed in my dream. Her constant attempts to hurt me and my babies was obvious in her relentless attacks. The word etched into my daughter's back represents my greatest fear: that any harm will come to my babies - to those I am sworn to protect - and that I will not be able to erase it. In dreams where NMIL is present, I am ALWAYS the barrier between her and my babies (and often my husband too). They are always there, and I am always fighting to protect them from her.
She is ALWAYS a hag or a witch of some sort, and her only and constant companion is darkness. That is true in both dreams and in reality.