Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

trauma happens…

“I am sitting in the front passenger seat of a large old sedan being driven by a man I don’t know.  I feel small sitting in this huge car.  I’m suddenly aware that he is driving down the road that leads to my mother’s house. Uh oh.  I look over at him and am about to ask why he’s going there.  I want to protest but I don’t even open my mouth.  I know there’s no point; he’s doing this. We top the hill and my mother’s house comes into view.  The house is there but the outside is very different.  It is a ramshackle painted in an ugly green.  Right before the house is a makeshift fence, made of scrap metal fence and flattened tin cans, all that same ugly green.  The whole scene looks like a war zone. I start to tell the man where to park.  He ignores me and just pulls off the side of the road where it dead ends.  He gets out of the car and takes a step towards the house.  I am still sitting in the passenger seat turned sideways with my feet hanging out of the car; I see little sneakers on my feet.  I just sit there slumped over.  I don’t want to do this.  I’m afraid of how she’ll react when she sees it’s me.  I feel sick, nauseous, heart pounding and am trying to blank out my mind. I slowly stand up and turn to face the house. I catch just a glimpse of her coming out of the garage towards us; she hasn’t seen me yet as the man is standing between me and her.”
I remember Marc, the founder of this type of dreamwork, speaking about PTSD.  Paraphrasing, he said that people in traumatizing situations, soldier’s, abused children, myriad experiences, often times the only way to survive is for us to leave the body; the mind truly shuts something down and we become dissociated. The problem then is it is extremely difficult to return to the body, living instead from a persona created to cope, that is, to not feel. So we spend a lifetime(s) not understanding why we react the way we do, knowing something is not quite right. The dreams can help. 
In my last post, I worked with the dream of the man with a gun to my head. The dream was showing me my need to control my feelings, well, in truth my need to not feel them. By keeping control of everything, I somehow felt I could protect myself and others from something bad happening, all the way from something life and death to how to time a dinner party. If I did everything right, made others happy, I would be safe. But it’s an illusion.  I control nothing…but that took many more months to understand. What I was starting to understand was that what I was really trying to control, and the outer situation was just the symptom, was the feeling that certain situations evoked in me, usually pain or fear.  I stayed with my homework, kept staying with the feelings of fear that were barely breaking through. The very next dream session included this dream.  All this control was sitting on top of something I didn’t want to feel and my dreams wanted me to understand.  
So in this dream, the man, probably the Animus, is driving me back to a place where I was traumatized.  I look at him and know I am not in control, “he’s doing this.”  What’s so powerful in the dream is that in returning to this painful place I’m not being asked to do it alone.  Not only is the Animus accompanying me…he’s taking me there, supporting me in this terrifying place.  This is what we all have on the inside, this inner connection to love and support, this part of ourselves that’s gone missing, our true self.  For each of us, there is a moment, a series of moments, where we lose our self, maybe all at once, maybe bit by bit, and we don’t know how to get our true self back – the dream does. 
In the dream I’m young, maybe 9-10.  This corresponds to the time in my life where the separation began, a tear perhaps, in my self, in my psyche and everything since then has been a way to cope and function with parts of myself missing.  I may even have come into this life in this state and the present life held it in place…waiting to be healed. What is it that was lost?  In dream work we believe it to be our girl self, our boy self.  The girl part of us is our vulnerability, our need for true relationship, to love and to be loved.  The boy energy is our libido, our passion and desire, our ‘amness’ in the world.
In the dream I’m nauseous, gripped in heart pounding fear, my mind about to shut down; this is a description of trauma. Even though it may look like it in the dream, the Animus is not bringing me back to that trauma moment to re-traumatize me.   No, with his support I am returning to this moment where I lost that part of myself, where in a way my true self went underground and what presented itself to the world was the coping persona.  Feeling these painful feelings, with his support, something is alchemized, the separation begins to heal.  This dream, frightening as it is, was a beginning of the return to my self. 
Mary Jo Heyen
Archetypal Dreamwork Practitioner 
Dream sessions in person, via Skype or on the phone