Saturday morning, I woke up to the remains of a dreadful dream. It sounds crazy, but I remember feeling relieved that I wasn’t waking up from a using dream, which has been an almost nightly occurrence. I suppose being relieved that you have been shot by your ex-husband instead of having to fight over who gets the last chunk of crack at the bottom of a ziplock sandwich baggie is a strange solace, but it is what it is.
It’s like time has shifted, been altered somehow. I am out of danger but all the while still living it. I am still the same girl who was blind sided with a back hand, dropped to the rug, had her face kicked, and left to bleed. A day I am reminded of daily while brushing my teeth when my bottom lip is stretched across my teeth I see the red bump he left there. It will never go away. I can feel it whenever I want. I can feel it now as I bite down on my lower lip. It feels like there is a little ball the size of a BB trapped under my skin. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just there. All I need to revisit that day is smile big in the mirror, ironically it’s nothing to smile over.
Let me begin by painting you a picture. As I explained my worsening depression and anxiety to my therapist a couple weeks ago, she told me something I will never forget. She explained how my brain had protected me for the past 11 years I spent in my old apartment before I moved 6 months ago. The only home my children have ever known. The same place all of the drug use and violence occurred which I often write about. A place filled with ugly memories and tragedies. Every wall in each room had a spot I had stared at during some violent struggle, whether physical or emotional, a place I fixated on wishing I could escape. It was finally time to leave. With a series of what some may consider unfortunate events, (becoming unemployed, an altercation with the Landlord) I was able to pack up and leave that dump behind. Looking forward to a new start, I began unpacking in our new home. I felt happy. But, as the months passed, my mood began to deteriorate. My anxiety peaked like never before. I had nightmares. I had using dreams every single night. And as I mentioned above, I still am. I couldn’t figure this out. I haven’t used in years. Do my meds need adjusting? I posted a story a couple months ago about fear of running out of my medication, but I found a doctor just in time and that was resolved. I reached out to a therapist to help me sort all this out. During the 11 years that I lived in that apartment, my brain would not allow me feel certain things. It was protecting me. All of the trauma I endured kept me a prisoner not only in my own home, but in my mind as well. My brain was on constant survival mode. I couldn’t relax or let my guard down for fear of not knowing what was around the corner. I was completely unaware this was happening. I knew I lived in fear much of the time, but I had no idea my brain was one step ahead of me, protecting me. So when I moved. I felt safe. A huge weight had been lifted and I could breathe again. No longer was I looking at those walls hoping they would magically swoop me away or make me forget what was happening. These walls are for pictures and for encasing love. My brain decided it felt safe here as well. It started to unpack all the memories and baggage it had been storing for all these years. And my god there is a lot of it. I haven’t felt safe since I was a small child. Well, to be honest, I am not even sure I have ever felt secure. That’s a lot of suitcases to start throwing on the floor. It suddenly became clear as my therapist painted this picture for me why I was having nightmares, using dreams, anxiety attacks and constant bad memories when I was supposed to be feeling happy in my new home. My brain was one step ahead of me. It felt safe and said “Ahhh, this is nice. No more fear, we’re gonna be okay now, let’s get comfy, shall we?”
The dream occurred Friday night. Feel free to interpret. I was with people from my last job. A coworker, the owner, and the general manager. I had the feeling I no longer worked for them, but was there for a meeting. We were in a large trailer in my mother’s neighbor’s yard. Myself and the others listened as my coworker told me how much she appreciated me. It was as if I was present for her review. When we were finished, I looked around a pillar of some sort, and I saw D (as I refer to him in my posts) and my three kids. In reality I only have 2 kids. The third child was a baby, maybe a year old, and in the dream I knew it was mine. They were sitting in order of age, the baby being first, all sitting on a log that lies across the length of my mother’s house. They kids were looking at him and he was looking at him. My heart skipped when I saw this. He wasn’t supposed to be there. There is a protection order and only scheduled visits with certain people are allowed. He is definitely not allowed anywhere near me. The owner of the company said we should call the police. I shuttered at that because I didn’t want to make a scene in front of the kids. I assured her this time I could take care of it myself. I walked over to the edge of my mother’s house where they were sitting. I picked up the baby in a protective way as anyone with a baby would. I told my children to stand up and come with me. I told D sternly that next time he showed up I would call the police. The kids were transfixed on their dad. I asked them again to get up, this time more firmly. This did. When I was secure that my kids were safe under my direction, I began to turn away. Before I could turn, I saw D slowly pull out a gun from behind his back. This all happened in slow motion. He purposely missed the baby in my arms and shot me directly on the left side, my heart. It’s like I saw the bullet curve in the air, or I suddenly and smoothly moved to the side to avoid the bullet like in the movies. Except I was protecting the baby in my arms. He then started shooting all the other adults in his range. The kids were untouched. That’s when I woke up.
As if having this dream wasn’t disturbing all by itself, I should have seen it as a red flag. Instead I chalked it up to being one of the suitcases my brain was so graciously dislodging from my brain onto the floor. I had all day Saturday to think about this. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. How can one possibly forget the image of their ex shooting them in front of their children? But that’s all it was. A horrible image. Sunday was fast approaching. The kids were going to visit their dad. Knowing full well the details and consequences of the Protection Order we’ve had been in place for at least 2 years, D decides to come along for the ride while dropping the kids off. Not only was he 2 hours early with no phone call or warning, he was HERE. In my driveway. My new safe place. What the hell is my brain supposed to do with all these suitcases now? It’s like they are stuck in limbo. My kids saw that I was pissed and naturally defended him, saying that he was reading directions, that it was dark and there’s no way he could ever find his way back here even if he tried. I am not going to speak ill of their dad to them. I don’t believe that is beneficial for anyone. But I know my ex, and I know he was memorizing that address. I am not being paranoid. This is the same man who memorized every detail about me to take out dozens of credit cards in my name without any regard of the consequences, but only so he could get high. I put absolutely nothing past him and his photographic, yet thoughtless mind.
Not only did he violate our Protection Order by coming near me and my home, he violated my newly regained sense of security by entering a space that belonged to only me and my family. A space I have worked hard to reclaim. I am not one to place value in premonitions, mainly because I’ve rarely seen them come to fruition. But also, since my dreams tend to be reminders of the past, not indicators of the future. That is what makes this so significant and raises the hairs on my neck. Not 48 hours before I let my children into his care, although supervised care, I had a dream, possibly a premonition revealing his character and therefore his intent.
I believe that the baby in the dream signified my new home. It is something precious to me in many ways, it is new as a baby is new. I want to protect it as it protects me. It is my safe place. D was to never know of my whereabouts. I hold this privacy and safety close to my heart as it is new and fragile, like a baby. That bullet purposely missed the baby and went directly to my chest, my heart. I am confident that D knew exactly what he was doing when he entered my driveway Sunday night. He could have requested to be dropped off blocks away or at a local business or landmark. He is not stupid. He knew full well what he was doing when he crossed that invisible line. He was testing my boundaries. He wants to see how far he can get, how much he can get away with. He is a master manipulator after all. Although he is not stupid, he is idiotic enough to think I will let this go. What he did was careless. He had a serious lapse in judgement. This shows me what is more important to him…testing me and my boundaries or being able to see his children whom he claims to love.
So this depression. This anxiety. These nightmares. Because of my insightful therapist, I came to an understanding of why they were happening. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t innately miserable, just decompressing, purging and adjusting. I was preparing myself to go through the emotions and feel the effects of the trauma as it came. Now, everything has changed. And I had no say in it. On this path to healing and learning to accept myself and be built up after years of being torn down, I am at a complete loss. I now see his face when I glance at a window at night. I don’t think he will come here. But maybe that is the battered wife syndrome in me that never expects the worst and ends up on the evening news.
All I know is that I had dream that my ex violated a protection order…he did. In my dream he shattered my security….he did.
What’s in a dream?
I would like to reclaim my suitcases, whether scattered on the floor or strategically placed on the shelves of my mind. Because right now I don’t know where they are or what happened to their contents…. But in order to move on, I need to get them back.