Once in a while, it takes someone who doesn’t know you well or at all to be able to see things the way they really are.
Last night, on my other blog, Lucky Otters Haven, I posted an essay about two weird dreams I had as a young child. All these years, I never thought of them as much more than those random, humorous dreams that all kids have (and maybe, in part, that is all they are).
But a commenter on that other blog who is familiar with my background (from reading my background story and other posts there) offered an interpretation that just sort of hit me upside the head with its accuracy. It just felt right.
Here was the post I wrote about the two dreams:
I was a weird, sketchy kid who had weird dreams. When I was about 5 I had a dream about something called a “clout” that looked like an oversized steel wool pad. It was sitting on the small rug in front of my bed and I was too scared to put my feet on the floor because that clout thing was evil. It just sat there on the rug, in all its black malevolence, not moving, but I knew it was alive and meant to kill me. I knew if I put my feet on the floor the clout would suck me down into the Hell-portal it must have come from.
When I was around the same age, one morning I woke up doubled over with laughter. My dad asked me why I was laughing, and I remember saying, “someone was throwing mud at my door.” I pointed to the door of my room and globs of gooey mud were sliding down its painted surface. I couldn’t stop shrieking with mirth. I kept pointing but he couldn’t see the mud and told me to stop making things up. “Look! Look! There! There!” I screamed in frustration, but I was still laughing. Then I woke up for real and was almost afraid if I looked at the door, mud would be on it. I was really awake this time, so there wasn’t. Relieved, I went downstairs for my Cap’n Crunch and orange juice.
Here is the interpretation the commenter (Little Shepherd Girl) wrote in the replies (the comment has been edited):
If I was to venture a guess Clout was the mental disorders, the sharp tangles that afflicted your family. The mud was how the dark side was going to smear you with it and smear you, but you were laughing because you knew it wouldn’t work. It would slide right off.
GOD held you safe in the palm of His hand all along. In childhood we fear evil but also know trust. I think Heaven is blissful trust and a ground ecstatic True Reality free of all anxiety.
I think she nailed what both of these dreams were really about. The tangled steel wool pad-thing definitely represents the toxicity of my family and probably also represents the state my mind was in — already hopelessly knotted and tangled and full of sharp edges. Ages four and five were around the time I began to dissociate (something my mother hated and caused her to call me “spooky” and angrily order me to snap out of it) and become symptomatic in other ways suggestive of a child developing an attachment disorder.
It was evident to most people that something wasn’t right with me. I remember sitting in the family room in our split level house banging my head against the wall and telling my mother who was screaming at me to stop that I was doing it because it felt good (she probably cared more about damage to the wall than to my head). I think doing this was actually a way of distracting myself from the evil that was beginning to infect my mind from the toxic family atmosphere. Maybe I was trying to drive out the “demons,” who knows? All I know is it was a compulsion and I couldn’t NOT do it. I was also beginning to show signs of being unable to regulate my emotions appropriate for my age level and not adjusting well in peer situations.
But even that far back, some thing inside me knew I was going to be okay in the end. I never lost my sense of humor or sense of hope.
Maybe those are the things that kept me from crossing the line into malignancy or sociopathy.