I rarely remember my dreams, but there is one that I had approximately five years ago which I’ll always remember…
There are a group of young girls, dressed in white, escorted to a room by their mothers. One of the mothers is new to the ceremony, and is showing signs of nervousness.
Then the businessmen come in.
The girls are paraded in a circle in front of the men, while the mothers stand to the side, smiling encouragement to their daughters. The businessmen take their pick of the girls… one of them being the new girl. The businessmen and their chosen girls go to a hotel, where they are abused.
The mothers whose daughters were chosen, are smiling and congratulating each other… their daughters were good enough to be chosen. But the new mother is having second thoughts… she wants to go up and rescue her daughter, but the other mothers hold her back. Telling her of the honour and privilege it was for her daughter to be picked.
I don’t pretend to understand how to interpret dreams, but what I find interesting about this dream that it is focused on the mothers. In particular, the betrayal of mothers towards their daughters. They didn’t protect them, instead they actively facilitated their daughters abuse.
This is very much how parts of me feel towards my mother. This sense of betrayal is the reason why I had so much trouble going to Wellington. It’s not the city (I used to live here), but it’s the feelings induced by both of my parents being in the same city. In particular, a fear that the mother will offer us up for abuse.
My rational mind knows that this will not happen, but these fears are old fears. They’re not based on present day logic, but instead on the perceptions that I formed as a child. Perceptions based on what I wanted a mother to be, and do… one who protected and nourished. But in reality, she was so consumed with keeping on top of all of the obvious issues, that the ones which were even superficially hidden, were over-looked.
If I look at this knowledge within the context of the dream, she is the new mother to the group who wasn’t fully involved in the process of abuse. She tried to stop it, but was distracted by the screen of those around her. The imagery of both my mother, and the one in the dream, is that of weakness. Neither were observant, neither were thinking beyond the present moment, and they therefore found themselves in situations for which they were not capable of handling.
My mother never knowingly facilitated the abuse, but instead didn’t pick up on the signs. At one time my mother said that she suspected that something was going on with one of my sister’s boyfriends. But today, when I asked her, she said she had no idea about any of it. Instead, anything that might have been considered a sign, was explained away as being “who you were”.
There’s an emptiness in hearing this. It makes sense, in that I was trying my very best to be “perfect”. But it also hurts, in that I was not noticed in any real way… my cover story was all that people saw – or maybe all they wanted to see.
I drove for over six hours to reach Wellington. That was a long time to think about what was going to happen. There were thoughts of suicide, rather than facing the certainty of abuse that parts thought they were going to be exposed to… thoughts of being able to do this visit, just like all of the visits from the mother… thoughts of what has happened in the past, and how out of control the present has become.
At one point of the drive the messages about the mother not being able to protect me were being repeated over and over… I countered this with the thought that I am capable of protecting myself now. This was met with a sense of disbelief. It’s always comforting to know that I have such little faith in my own abilities… But realistically, I am capable of keeping myself safe from self injury. I’ve done so before, and I can do it again.
I’m told that healing is all about looking at the present feelings, understanding their origins, accepting them as valid, and using various coping mechanisms to help them be tolerated. Sounds easy, huh? So far, this weekend has proven it to be anything but easy.