Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dreams .....

Over the approximately seven years that I lived with my uncle and his wife, I often had what I called "escape dreams" in which I was trying to run away from various captors.  Quite often, I was being held prisoner by Germans, which I attribute to the numerous WWII-themed TV shows of that era, but even then I recognized that the people I was trying to escape from were actually my uncle and (more significantly) his wife.  Occasionally I recorded dreams in my diary, but often I forgot the details before I was able to write them down.
One exception is the escape dream I had in late July, 1970.  It was strikingly vivid in its details and realism (I physically *felt* some dreamed objects), and I was able to get it all on paper while it was still fresh in my mind.
I present it here exactly as I penned it in 1970:
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"I had another dream the other night.  It is the worst dream and one of the most realistic dreams I have ever had."
If I'd run as much in my waking life as I did while dreaming,
I wouldn't have had a weight problem.

"I was escaping from the Germans (again), and I was getting ready to leave.  I was in a basement of some house  It was on ground level, and there was a sliding glass door in the wall.  I crouched down there, and was getting ready.  I think I put on a hat of some sort, and I put on my black gloves with the fur lining.  I felt the fur against my hands.  Then a man came down the stairs from the house.
I was supposed to be in darkness, but I knew I wasn't.  Either he didn't see me or he knew what I was doing and pretended not to see me.  Then a man came in through the glass door and it was the same with him.  Either he didn't see me or he pretended he didn't.  Then three boys, about 10 years old, went by.  They were walking up a driveway next to the house that led to a house on a hill behind the one I was in.  They were eating or playing with something, or something like that.  Finally they were out of sight and it was time for me to leave.  I started to run across the yard, but it was like running in slow motion.
Finally I reached a large bush in the middle of the yard.  I waited there for a patrol to pass.  I looked at the house on the hill and I saw the three boys laughing at me and at what I was trying to do.
I decided to ignore them, and I ran again.  I came to a house.  For some reason, I had to go through it.  There was a man in the front of the house, and I was going to try and go through there.  It was like a porch with windows all around.  The front wall was made of windows.  It had a tile floor that was waxed, and the only furniture was an armchair and a lamp.  The man was in the chair reading a newspaper.  He stood up and I saw it was Gruber (Carl Ballentine) from 'McHale's Navy'."
[Author interpose:  TV personalities occasionally made appearances in my dreams, with no rhyme or reason.  I'd watched "McHale's Navy," but it wasn't a favorite show -- I have no idea why it, and this character, were important enough to dream about.]
Front row, center -- actor, Carl Ballentine
"Then *I* was McHale, and Gruber said that he had told the owner of the house that he was higher in rank than McHale, he believed him, and the owner was coming to take me away.
I ran and the owner started shooting at me.  I saw a station wagon, and I was going to drive away in it.  Somehow the man got tangled up in a cloth that looked like the one on our T.V. room sofa.  While he was getting free, I was going to go in the car by its window.  Then I saw the man had his head and arms free.  He had the shotgun pointed at my forehead, and I knew he was going to kill me.  We stared at each other, and in his eyes I saw nothing but hate.  Pure hate, and he was going to kill me. 
I put the palm of my right hand over the end of the gun and moved it to the right about a foot.  The gun was double-barreled, and it was warm.  He fired the gun, and my hand should have been blown off, or at least partially blown off.  But nothing happened.  My hand didn't even hurt.  I kept my hand there for a few seconds, then I moved it slightly, and a lot of red stuff, it looked like blood and a jelly-like substance, came down.
I looked at my hand, and it wasn't even scratched.  It looked as though someone had painted my palm with red water color paint, but that's all.
Then I woke up, fortunately."

Although I never discussed this dream during counseling, I did ask a therapist friend for her (informal and unofficial) opinion on its symbolism.  I won't bore you with the specifics, but even though some of what she said was surprising, it all made sense and validated my feelings about living with my uncle and his wife.

Long story short, I was experiencing physical and emotional abuse, and the only way my teenage self could deal with that was by dreaming of escape.