Dear Nancy: Two years ago I became aware that my childhood was filled with sexual and physical abuse, and that my father was one of the perpetrators. Even though other members of my family and community knew about it, they kept quiet out of fear.
I loved my paternal grandfather very much and he never abused me. That is why I’m so puzzled by this dream. - Kathryn
I go to a hospital to see my paternal grandpa, even though I know he’s dead.
At the hospital, however, I find he is alive and well. Joyfully, I run to him and we hug. He leads me to another room where three older women sit at a desk. One woman at the door reminds me of my mother.
The room is filled with hundreds of miniature babies, all nude and moving their arms and legs around actively. I have a feeling Grandpa has been here before and the women know him. Suddenly, he grabs a baby, bites its head off and leaves the room. I become hysterical, sobbing that Grandpa has just killed a baby. No one goes after him. The woman at the door looks at the body of the poor, headless baby, shrugs and says it’s only one baby, after all, and there are so many.
I begin to cry and plead for one of the other women to do something. I wake up with profound sadness, helplessness and a feeling of betrayal.
Dear Kathryn: I can understand why you were upset by this dream. Your grandfather, whom you loved and felt was your ally, becomes a murderer. Your dream takes place in a hospital, a center for healing, which suggests the dream is a part of your healing process, even though a killing takes place. The dream makes you aware, and generally, awareness precedes healing.
Are the women in your dream the women in your life who were supposed to protect you but didn’t? Why didn’t they stand up and confront your abusers rather than keep quiet? Silence protects the abuser, not the victim.
Abused people are said to “split off” parts of themselves for their own protection. Could these many babies be parts of your inner being that need to be acknowledged and cared for?
Babies are often symbols of new growth and potential, but these babies are miniature. Was your emotional and spiritual growth stunted by the abuse?
The portrayal of your grandfather as a murderer is a shock and you feel betrayed by him. As a child, did you go to him for help? Did he metaphorically “bite your head off” by telling you to keep quiet?
On the telephone, you told me he knew what was going on, yet did nothing to stop the abuse. Doesn’t that make him an accomplice? Would you allow your own children or grandchildren to be abused, saying nothing?
This dream gives you much to think about, Kathryn. I hope you have a friend or counselor to help you through this hard time.
This column is intended as entertainment. But psychologists who work with clients’ dreams say that dreams can hold a tremendous amount of significance; a particularly disturbing or repetitive dream may indicate the need to see a therapist.
, DataTimes MEMO: Nancy Huseby Bloom has studied dreams for 18 years. Dreams may be sent to her c/o The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615, or fax, (509) 459-5098. Please send a short summary of the circumstances in your life and include your name, address and phone number. Nancy conducts dream groups on a regular basis. For information, call 455-3450.