Dreaming Portent


I dreamed that we were in a huge, many-roomed, very old house. Work was being done in places and other places were dark, still other rooms were decorated like the mid 1960s. Someone from whom I am estranged was also there, but kept cycling through as other things happened. There was an increasing sense of anxiety on my part and my mother’s about this cycle and that person.

I recall trying to wake up a few times to exit the dream itself, feeling like it went on too long.

But this person kept entering and being angry, or needy, or threatening. She wore a red dress of flannel. She got smaller, became a child instead of an adult but was still demanding, disruptive. I went to her room and gripped her shoulders, then told her she was running a fever, to settle down and stop acting this way. I touched her head to feel her fever. Then something else happened and I became angry with her, she was persisting in saying things that were not true, and then I flung her from one bed to another and felt immense tension building up then shouted, “I never believed you! Not ever! Everything you say I don’t believe and I never did!” and left the room very swiftly.

Somehow I walked outside then back inside and found my mother, and then the other person appeared with more guns in her hands than she could hold and said something like that she was done with us now, and I felt very afraid and for a second wished I hadn’t said what I did and that now I’d gone and caused this to happen to my mom. There was a moment when I was laying over my mother and closed my eyes and thought to myself, “This is it. Will it hurt?” Yet even as I was giving up I rose up from the bed and took one of the guns from her and hit her in the nose with it, the way you do in dreams where you are trying to strike someone really hard but your limbs become weak and slow. Yet, she responded to the blow and I gathered her into my arms and took her to a room that looked like the den in my father’s parents’ house and pushed her between their easy chairs and started to choke her, then stopped and said that maybe things could be okay after all.

Somehow then she screamed that she would never let it be okay or something like that and she hurt herself somehow. Then I was outside the room and the police were there and then one came out carrying a pillow and said, “Here are her arms! Just the arms!” and there were two doll arms on the pillow, then more parts came out and I woke up.


It felt like that dream went on for hours and hours. It was weirdly specific in a lot of ways, the red dress is one I recognize from doll clothes my grandmother made for my mother and her sisters as children, except I think it was really red corduroy, not flannel, but it had a matching bonnet. I may even still have it.

The point where I said to the child in the red dress that I had never believed her was extremely meaningful, a severance from her on many levels and it’s interesting that then she became smaller and was carried away in a disassembled state. My desire to protect my mother, too, that my decisions made something go hard for her, was very clear. Having it flow into a room in a house where adults did great damage to children and physically leaving the doll-girl there also feels important.

It’s just a dream and all, and I have noticed that the Xanax seems to give very odd dreams.  I had talked about my choice to fully separate from my relationship with the girl in the red dress some during the day yesterday. Those things notwithstanding, my mother has often dreamed things that were portents and came true; she dreamed the death of a sibling before it happened and then it did happen; she dreamed a person she knew was killed in a car accident and then that person’s brother was killed that way.

The Shrink has told  me that life is a spiral (I see it as a sort of spiral staircase), and in the middle of each spiral we are allowed a chance to change how we respond to something in our life that we need to work on. If we do respond differently, even if it isn’t a complete change or resolution, we create enough change that we can move up to the next flight of stairs on the spiral. We may confront the same problems over and over again, but we get better and better at it. Obviously none of us has only a single issue to solve, but in the sense that I have always returned to therapy to, in part, deal with a specific issue, I can see that. Each time, I get better at protecting myself. The Shrink talks a lot about how now, with EDS and chronic pain and uncertainty, my job to protect myself and my own space is vitally important and I cannot allow anyone to make me feel guilty for that choice.

The themes of illness and truth were strong, too—one minute caring for the child in the red dress and at the next moment rejecting that role and making a declaration that could never be withdrawn. My accusation of lying was, in this context, the revelation of the truth. Waiting underneath all of that is the possible portent of someone’s self-destruction, which is real and something I am working to prepare myself for. That is a hard space to occupy, but pretending otherwise would be unhealthy for myself.

I think some of this might need to be illustrated, at some juncture. There’s a lot to unpack.



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