Dear Nancy: I come from a dysfunctional family and my father was extremely abusive. I am trying to forgive my mother for staying with him. I knew my husband had MS when we married and it has gotten worse in the last few years. It has been getting increasingly difficult for both of us to deal with this illness. I had this dream recently. Could you help me understand it? - Helen
I am in a big house with my mother and brother. We hear a terrific noise, a screeching that gets louder and louder. An evil force comes into the room and I grab a blanket and throw it over the three of us. We huddle together, trembling. We feel pain as the force passes through the room but it can’t hurt us.
It goes to the other rooms in the house where there are alien beings. I know that evil force is Satan. About once an hour he returns to our room and each time we huddle under the blanket and he can’t hurt us. He is hurting others in the house and I see one alien that is so frightened he tries to please Satan by offering him a cup of blood from one of his fellow aliens. Satan changes himself into an old man with a white beard and graciously accepts the cup of blood. The red blood then flows into the bathtub. I run up some stairs and notice one armored worm-like alien going in the same direction. I’m not afraid of him but it is a little disconcerting to see him there beside me.
Dear Helen: As we worked on your dream on the telephone, two important issues kept coming up: your childhood with your abusive father and the situation you now find yourself in with your sick husband.
Dreams that include family members normally have to do with family dynamics and family issues. In your dream, Satan requires sacrifice for appeasement and your mother certainly did sacrifice the family by staying with your father. You recognize that this may have set up a pattern for your own life, possibly one of self-sacrifice and self-denial.
What is being sacrificed here in this dream is alien and could be a part of yourself that you have set aside and is now foreign to you. Have your desires for a career, creativity or other opportunities been sacrificed in the decision to marry a man who is ill and who requires a great deal of care?
Who is Satan in the dream? Certainly, he could be representative of your father and cruelty and pain you experienced through him. Satan also may be a personification of your husband’s illness, having a life of its own, with its own needs. Some of these may need to be addressed, attended to and possibly bargained with.
It may be that your willingness to take on this effort to care for your husband is part of the bargaining. There definitely have been rewards given: a happy marriage despite the illness and the knowledge that you have given your best. But the sacrifice of yourself has been great. The blood, which is life force, is offered in a cup. This is the chalice, symbolic of the Self and its supreme value.
I would suggest that you find an activity or interest that is totally your own, for your own pleasure or development. It’s time to acknowledge that you must take care of and be good to yourself.
This was a difficult and frightening dream, Helen, but you can be thankful for it because it validates your innermost feelings about the abuse you have suffered and your sacrifices.
Be good to yourself and seek out those who are nurturing and can give to you. You deserve it.