Controlling My Nightmare

Living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquests. – Charles Lindbergh

I rarely remember my dreams. When I wake up from a night’s slumber, I start anew with no reflection from the prior evening’s brain games. But last week I had one of those rare moments when I vividly remembered my dream and I woke up from it determined to figure out what it meant.

My dream started off by me walking on a sidewalk of a dead street. It was night, late at night; nobody was around. As I am walking along I am approached by a couple who didn’t seem too suspicious. All of a sudden they ended up stealing my backpack that I had draped over my shoulder. Nothing violent happened, but I was left without my backpack. I remember calling 911 only to be met with complete silence. I repeatedly announced over the phone that I had just been robbed but over and over again there was nothing. So I hung up. The next thing I remember, I am in a department store not far from the area where I was robbed. I approach the customer service desk and ask if they know where my backpack is. The person on the other side proceeded to hand me my backpack plus a bunch of merchandise that they thought I would enjoy; apparently as a token of their sympathy towards my troubles. Attached to my stuff was a note. The note simply stated that this store felt bad that I was robbed and wanted to help me since the authorities didn’t want to help in any way.

Well, well… what does that dream mean?

In case you were unaware, I had reported my childhood sexual abuse to the authorities nearly 3 years ago. During these past 3 years, I have been rarely contacted about my case. Sometimes I feel as though I have never even filed a complaint. While I have been very patient with the process, the lack of progress has in effect capped me from healing completely from my past. I sometimes feel as though I am not being taken seriously. Why did I even bother to file? While I don’t like to dwell on it much, I have -at times- allowed this unfinished business to stop me from healing. Now back to my dream. It didn’t take long for me to decipher the underlying meaning behind my dream. I subconsciously have the state of mind that I can no longer depend on the authorities (aka the system) to help me get past this hurdle in my life. I am effectively alone to fight my battle. In retrospect, I think this is the way it should be.

The realization from my dream didn’t take long to become reality. The following evening from my dream I had come across a package on my back step. The package was addressed to my son; who was the sender? It was at the address of my abuser. I was triggered, my anxiety peaked, my anger has woken up. Over the years I had become good at controlling these triggers, but on this particular day, my guard was down. I am really growing tired of these triggers, I am tired of being contacted by this person, but because of the sloth-like legal process, I must continue to be victimized and triggered over and over again. Seeking to stop this endless pestering, my wife contacted the authorities. I was just too angry and despondent to talk to anyone at this point. According to them, there is nothing they can do as it is not against the law to send mail and considering I do not have any sort of restraining order, nothing bad is being done. I have to in effect “suck it up”.

In the past, this dead end would have triggered me even more. I would have become angered and consumed by the outcome. But on this particular day, I reigned in my anger. I quickly realized that there is only one person in this world who can fix this: me. By allowing myself to be triggered by these gestures, I am allowing the abuse to continue. I have the power to stop that, I have the tools to deal with that. No police officer, family member or friend can help me with that. I am in control of my own emotions and my situation. So, I did what I have always done in the past. I went for a walk. I cleared my mind. I reset. I moved on.

While I cannot control the justice system, the police officers of the world or my abuser from triggering me. What I can control is how I react to this entire process. That is on me. I can no longer allow this unresolved situation to turn my dreams, into nightmares.