[Bad] Dream of a Memory

Do you know anyone that’s ever been abused? Any sort of abused? I do. I have. I was. Many forms, by different people at different times in my life. Most of the time, though, it was on repeat by one person: my stepfather.

For the most part I’ve gotten over it. While my mother is still, unfortunately, married to the man that treated me so badly throughout my childhood and adolescent years (and even now he bad mouths and talks down to me, but I’ve grown more of a back bone and will talk back to him despite fear of retribution), most of my communication with my mother is via telephone as she lives over an hour away and she works over 8 hours a day, every day, every week with the [very] occasional day off; she’s the main “breadwinner” of their household as my stepdad is (surprise-surprise!) a convicted felon & although he could find work at, the very least, a manufacturing plant, he refuses to work anything other than odd jobs that he runs himself.

Therefore, my communication with that entire household is limited.

And my mother.

I love her. I do. I may not always agree with everything she says. I may not agree with everything she does, especially the fact that she’s still with my stepdad, but I love her nonetheless. I will acknowledge her faults, though most of the time not to her face because she won’t most of the time. She confides in me and I, her. We understand each other because of, oddly enough, my stepfather. We have a mutual understanding between us and I’m thankful to her that, although she’s my mother, my Mom, she chose to have me live apart from her.

And that’s where everything comes full circle as to why I’m writing this tonight.

I woke up around three this morning, my eyes wide and in a panic. I knew I was in bed and if it wasn’t for the fact that my husband’s arms were still around me I probably would have screamed.

I dreamt of a memory of days long since past. It was nearly 9 years ago – the winter of 2005 – and I was living with my mother in the home she lives in now. It’s a small, technically one-bedroom, house that at the time housed my Mom & stepdad in what is now a closet; my two younger brothers, who were then 6 & 8 years old in what is now a combined living room/Mom & stepdad’s room; and me, in what is now my youngest brother’s room, that back then was right next to my mother and stepfather’s “room” and only separated by a sheet. There was no privacy whatsoever. It was Hell on Earth.

Normally I wouldn’t be living with them; I abhor my stepfather and nearly always have, but my Grandmother, whom I had been staying with, gave me an ultimatum that pushed me and I took it. I wasn’t going to give up a friendship for her old-fashioned ideals, but that’s a different topic altogether. So I found myself moving 45 minutes away and switching schools in the middle of the fall semester my first year of high school. My mother was happy that I was finally coming to live with her, but she wasn’t happy about the circumstances behind it. Honestly, everything was going well until the last day of school before winter break.

One of my friends, specifically a male friend, asked if he could come over and hang out for a bit after school. I told him I’d ask. I was more than naïve back then, I guess; he purposely left information out to me and I didn’t see the signs. Either way, we both got permission for him to come over and he rode the bus home with me. I’m going to point this out now: I never thought of him as anything more than a friend; he was JUST a friend to me in my mind. Well, apparently everybody else thought otherwise – including him.

He ended up eating dinner with my family because his mom hadn’t picked him up yet. When I asked him why she hadn’t shown up yet, he said that she wouldn’t be there till around 9PM. I was pissed! He never told me that and I knew, at that moment, I was going to get hell from my stepdad as soon as he left.

I was right.

After he left and my brothers were firmly asleep my stepdad started in on me and it just kept coming. I don’t remember everything he said; he asked me so many questions – accusing me of lying when I hadn’t and every time I denied lying he just got angrier.

What I haven’t said yet is that my stepfather is an alcoholic. I know by that time he was drunk for sure, but I couldn’t tell you how long he’d been drinking that day.

Finally, at one point, I was sent to bed. I think it was around 11-11:30 that evening. I was tired. I’d had a long day at school and then I’d been grilled and yelled at and intimidated by my stepfather. Nobody likes that. I fell asleep listening to him yell at my Mom, but the words were a blur to me, even then.

I was woken up again around 1AM, being dragged – literally – out of bed by my arm by my stepfather. He was pissed, and that’s an understatement. I don’t remember what the discussion at that point was about. I was being questioned again about my actions that evening and why I did what and several other co-existing categories. I remember answering something honestly and it must have been the wrong answer, and something that he disliked extremely or considered a “smart-ass remark” because the next thing I knew I was dodging a glass plate being thrown at me. If I hadn’t moved it would have hit my upper left shoulder near my neck. I don’t remember much after that other than crying and being scared.

I moved back to my Grandmother’s within days after that. I don’t think anyone would question why. It was my Mom’s decision to move me back.

The thing is, this is only one of the instances of something abusive happening to me but for some reason it’s the one that pops up the most in my memory, in my dreams; it’s the one that troubles me the most and I don’t understand why.

I was scared then and it scarred me enough mentally and emotionally that it still bothers me to this day, enough to keep me awake at night. The abuse I’ve suffer throughout my life from my stepfather, and inadvertently from my mother, is probably the one thing that I haven’t completely gotten over and I’m not sure that I ever will. I think that’s what scares me.

Now it’s not the terror of being physically dragged away from my bed in the middle of the night by someone else; now it’s the terror of waking up and having to drag myself from my own bed because of someone else… because I’m afraid to face what might be in my dreams.

Recollection of a Dream

It was a time of war. Everywhere I looked there was sadness. Buildings were crumbling to the ground, everything in various shades of black, brown and red. I was searching for something. I could feel it inside of me. I had been looking for days, weeks, months; you could see it in my eyes and on my body. I was worn down and hadn’t had a shower in a long time.

It was like I was in tunnel vision. All I could think was “where is he? why can’t I find him?”

Then a little boy ran past followed by more children. And then I knew. Somehow, I knew. I had found him.

Quietly I followed the children; they were playing some sort of game – chasing each other with not a care in the world. They had no idea what kind of world we were living in. That made me smile a bit, before I remembered what I was searching for.

I came to the entrance of one of the many refuge sites. They were hard to come by and very well hidden to the rest of the world. Those who wanted to stay away from the war – the young, the elderly, the disabled – hid there.

I was a prisoner of war who escaped to find my child. The enemy had captured me early on; I knew they were coming for me and I gave my only child to someone I trusted, a semi-elderly woman past her prime, to watch over him until I, hopefully, came back to get him.

She was here. He was here. I could feel it in my heart.

As I walked through the dark tunnel – there was no electricity – women, men, and children of all ages looked at me in fear and awe. I can only imagine how I looked to them. Occasionally I would stop and ask someone who looked especially kind, normally a woman, if she knew where the woman I was looking for was. I was always asked many questions and then pointed forward with a smile. My hope was growing.

Finally I stumbled upon her. I found her with her back to me and so I observed her. She had cut her now-gray hair short; it used to be long and wavy, mid-back. I didn’t think I was gone for that long. Had I been?

She must have sensed me behind her because right before I called her name she began turning around to face me. She didn’t look surprised, just… determined. There were children behind her, some sleeping, some looking up curiously at me. She motioned for them to go and play. I looked at all of the boys; which one was mine?

I spoke to her: “You know why I’m here. I told you I’d be back.”

Her eyes got harder, fiercer, more determined. “I didn’t think you’d make it back alive. You can’t have him.”

I choked back a sob, bringing a hand up to my chest to steady myself. “He’s my flesh and blood. I trusted that you.”

“He’s mine.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks now. There were people staring from their seats in the hallway. I didn’t care.

“You have eight children of your own! He’s my child! Give him back!” I yelled it to her. I was crying, scared.

She snarled at me. “You abandoned your own child to go with the enemy. He’s no child of yours!”

I cried even more. And then a child came running up to me, wrapping his arms around my legs, hugging me. I looked down in surprise. Was he…?

He looked up at me. “Are you my Mama?”

I leaned down and hugged him tightly as I cried. I could see the tiny features that grew with him in the baby I gave birth to long ago. This was my baby boy.

* * *

I woke with tears streaming down my face. This truly is the recollection of a dream I had last night. It was one of the most vivid dreams I’ve ever had and I can’t get it out of my mind. It scared me out of my mind. I could feel everything. I knew everything that was going on. I could see myself as it was happening. I hope something like what happened in my dream never happens in real life.