Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo


Very early in my dreamwork I had this difficult and painful dream…a challenging invitation to meet the sacred encounter and to find the sacred medicine that is contained within it.


Dream- I am in a brightly lit school corridor. Leaning against a wall, doubled over, is a young teen boy. I’m not sure if he is sick or upset about something. I go over and ask, “Are you okay?” He shakes his head like he doesn’t want to talk. I walk over to a group of students and talk to them. I see the boy is still against the wall. I approach him again. As I do there is a strong scent of vomit; he is sick. I want to help but I’m afraid that if I get too close it may be contagious.


Dream Medicine – Feel into being the teen boy who is vomiting…


When I approach the doubled over boy I ask, “Are you okay?” and he shakes his head. He doesn’t need or want me to caretake him. I assume the boy’s head shake is that he does’t want to talk about it.


What if that moment is literal and simple?
“Are you okay?”…head shake…”No.”


This boy is here for me; he wants to show me something…he wants me to know something about myself.


Approaching the boy the second time I feel fear rise…will I catch what the boy has? Is he contagious? Yet, this boy is an image of me…of what happened to me…how something made me very sick. And in taking my dream medicine…feeling into being this boy who is vomiting…I recognize myself immediately. He is an image of me at that age.

Like him, I wasn’t okay.


By my early teens I was utterly broken and caught in the terrifying trauma that was my childhood. I was bulimic, withdrawn and hyper vigilant. I was caught between being the girl who so needed and wanted her mother’s love to the actual experience of knowing something was tragically wrong with my mother, being the object of her hatred of herself projected onto all around her. Back then and for the rest of my life to even be physically near her would make me queasy and I would need to move away.


Often times our dreams can have dramatic images that we want to turn away from. We are defecating or vomiting. We may feel disgust, repulsed and even shame at the sight of these bodily functions. Sometimes they are images of the shame that we have come to feel about ourselves and our dreams want to help heal this.


Sometimes these messy images are revealing something else. What if in the very moment that we want to turn away from the image we make another choice…to stay with our fear and stay with the image for a breath or two…let both our fear and the image help us feel into what they want to teach us, trust that they point to a wounded place in us that needs attention and a healing medicine. This is a way we can meet the difficult yet sacred encounter in our dream. Here it is my encounter with the boy.


The teen boy doesn’t care that he’s vomiting; he’s doing what he needs to do, what I needed to do. To purge what had been held in too long. In working with this dream I found I trusted this boy. Could I do as he was doing? Could I feel into what it would be like to lean against the wall, double over…and vomit…all that was making me sick…had made me sick…that needed to be purged in me?
I could.


What wanted to be purged, what lived in me for too long, the stories, the shame, the belief that it was my fault that my mother couldn’t love me, the daily emotional violence against my soul, the belief that if I found the magic words she would hear me…maybe even love me…all the ways that conditioned me to believe I was not worthy to be in the world…let alone be loved by myself or anyone else. All this toxic soup had been living rent free in my psyche and making me very sick.


My dreams have helped me realize that over the years my reaction and mis-guided remedy to feeling the depth of this trauma with its fear and pain was to suppress it, anesthetize it, shut it down and get beyond it…but never to feel it. And the teen boy is showing me the antidote…to purge it…bring it into the light of day…feel it…and begin to heal it.


Incredible that such a disgusting thing like vomiting is actually the medicine that heals. It is the medicine in this dream. And in my willingness to feel this fear and pain…to feel into all that was rising in and out of me…over the years the purging has taken another form.


My day includes the rising of unexplained tears…an unnamed sadness…a deep grief…feelings that rise and flush through me and I welcome them…these odd companions of soul. I’ve learned to trust them, their wisdom in how to move through me, storyless…to just feel them.


And in this trusted movement from feeling to feeling, I find the less I need to know why the feeling is there, the story behind it, to find the smoking gun. If there is something important, that I need to be aware of, my dreams will unfailingly bring it to me. They will both reveal what still needs healing and bring along with it the healing medicine.


I will always be the daughter who needed and wanted her mother’s love
…and that’s okay.


I will always be the daughter who feels grief at this terrible loss
…and that’s okay.


(Image by Michael Reynolds)


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