Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

terror of being the girl…

Dream – A group of people who feel like royalty are at a large on-going outdoor party.  We are about to sit down for dinner. I rush into a room to shower.  In the room is a young woman, 20’s, who is keeping an eye on a little girl, about 7.  The girl is sitting on a bed and seems challenged. Her head is lowered, hair hanging in her face, and she has a really angry look on her face.  When the young woman isn’t looking, the girl throws something at her.  Now I see that she has a tennis racket in her hand and before I can call out, she swings and hits the woman with it.  This poor woman!  I notice that she is all showered and looks nice.  I’m still a mess.  I will offer to trade places with her; I will stay and keep an eye on the girl and let her go to the dinner.

This dream is from almost a decade ago…the girl is an image of my relationship to my soul self…and there was anger…valid anger at not being truly seen.  The cleaned up young woman was my ego.  I, still a mess, was not ready for the meal with the royals, the archetypes, those beings…the beloveds…who love us deeply and who come each night in our dreams to help us remember that we belong to this divine family….always have.  It isn’t even me who was invited. It was the girl, this angry little girl was the one invited, the one who belongs to the royal family but I kept that part of myself locked up.  The girl I saw as challenged was not my true self, but that was how I see her because I  was afraid of her. 

At this point in my dreamwork, so many years ago, not only was I still struggling to feel, I didn’t want to feel my vulnerability and my need.  It seemed a weakness to me, some flaw that I needed to overcome. So the young woman was an image of my misunderstanding that I, my ego self, was smarter than my soul self, that this girl somehow needed to be managed, that someone had to keep an eye on her, and I certainly didn’t want to be in any kind of relationship with her, let alone be her. I didn’t understand back then that my capacity to be in my feelings, to be vulnerable was actually the very potency of the girl…of soul.

Dreams bring us images of our relationship to the deepest truest part of who we are…our self…our soul. 

In Natural Dreamwork, we consider that girls in our dreams are an image of our soul (as are boys.) The girl represents the soul’s need to love and be loved, the soul’s need to be in relationship with self, others and the divine. She is the soul’s capacity to feel all essential feelings including love, pain, joy, sorrow, fear and vulnerability.  The young girls in our dreams may come to us bursting with life and joy, playful and open…willing to be in all of their fullness. 

If this is so then why does the girl in our dreams often come in ways that show damage, disability, even behaviors that we find annoying and irritating. In the dream we are convinced that this girl is a pest, someone to be disparaged, rejected and shunned. 

Why are we so angry at her or her at us? We may even hate her, want to hurt her…see her as dead. This is so very painful that even the words here feel disturbing. Yet, most of us have these kinds of dreams.

How did we come to feel this way about the most vulnerable and tender part of who we are?

There is a poignant scene in the series “Anne with an e” (a remake of Anne of Green Gables.) Anne, still living in the orphanage is lying under a metal bed reading a book. Books are portals for Anne, they keep her imagination alive, they transport her to other worlds, worlds where there is still hope and possibility of a life beyond the difficult life she is experiencing.  And yet she has already learned that she needs to hide this part of herself, this deep desire, as it is not valued by those around her, that she even be punished for her desire. Books, home, hope and love are not for orphans.

An orphanage matron discovers Anne, pulls out the book and acknowledges how very much Anne risked to have the book…how much it must mean to her…and then proceeds to rip out pages from the very heart of the book. She then returns it to Anne who is visibly bereft with so much of the story torn away…so much loss. We can relate to Anne here, feel horror and helplessness at such cruelty and anger on the part of the matron. 

If the figure of the matron were in one of our dreams we would acknowledge the cruelty of her act, an act even we ourselves may do in a dream. And we would also know that this angry woman is an imago of conditioning, a dream representation of what happened to us…what changed us from a girl with a still hopeful heart such as Anne to one whose heart has been so hardened that she can’t feel another’s pain because she can’t feel her own pain.

This scene touched me so that I spent some time feeling into it…imagining why the matron so hates and hurts the girl Anne. It is a moment where we might touch into some compassion for her as we recognize that she came to hate her own girl soul. If we could give voice to this moment, where the matron speaks her pain it might be something like:

Who do you think you are!  
To read and enjoy yourself! 
To get lost in these books!
To think you, too, can have a life!
What? Do you hope that they will come true? 
Do you believe you will ever have a happily ever after? 
That a prince charming will come and love you? A Mr. Rochester?
Foolish girl. Your lot is here…to work and serve others…it will always be so.
I had hope once. I could have been happy. 
I had a chance to marry but it was taken from me.
I was creative and talented but it was taken from me.
And all I’m left with is bitterness and hatred for the stupid foolish girl I was who thought her life would be something different.
And I hate you for even reminding there is still something to hope for.

(And if the matron voice can even go deeper we might come closer to the painful truth of why we have damaged girls in our dreams)

And I am afraid of you…you terrify me…
your very presence threatens me…
because when I was you I was not seen, I was not loved. 
All I got was pain and I choose to not feel my fear or my pain…
To be you means I will have to feel it all and so…
I choose to not feel…

To see her (us) healed to come back into wholeness can feel too much. 
She is a threat to our stories. She is a threat to our conditioning.
She is a threat to our numbness.

We hate this girl because we are terrified to be her…because in some way, somehow we remember what it was like to be her before we chose safety…before we buried her…replaced with a terror of what it would mean to be her again. We know the price we are being asked to pay to become her once again…we will have to feel our pain. 

Our dreams come faithfully because they know we are capable of doing the hard work of not believing the untruths that want to shame us…and of laying down the blaming of others for our pain (even though they did indeed inflict it.) They know how to help us move out from under the conditioned self to the soul self.

Our dreams come faithfully to bring us back to the girl…with all her soul quality. When terrible, horrible things happen (and they will happen)…when we experience great loss (and we will) our girl heart can remain open. Our girl heart can feel her pain, her joy, her sorrow…the whole palette of what it means to be em-bodied and en-souled.

It is the work of a lifetime….

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients throughout the country and abroad in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

4 thoughts on “terror of being the girl…”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to reflect with me here; it means a lot. Our dreams know to bring us home to the girl soul we always were and always will be…

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