A few nights back, I had a dream. In this dream, I found myself meandering between the living room and kitchen of my childhood home. My dad soon walked into the kitchen and asked me to spend time with him (I cannot recall the exact wording). However, he was clearly intoxicated. I repeatedly told him that I could not stop what I was doing.
He yelled at me, “You work too hard!” “All work and no play!” (He always said things like this to me.) It was at that point I woke up in tears. I rolled over onto my side, balling my eyes out. Still, something about it felt surreal. Shit, I was right because I was still dreaming! It was a dream within a dream. Dreamception?
After a few moments, I actually woke up. My eyes jolted open, hoping I was grounded in reality. After metaphorically pinching myself, I realized where I was and took note of the tightness in my chest.
Around four or five years ago, before seeing my current therapist, I went to a clinical psychologist. She came from a psychoanalytic background, which conflicted well with my perspectives at the time. Psychoanalysis originated from the famous Sigmund Freud and focuses on personality development/organization, primarily as someone grows up. Psychoanalysts usually hone in on childhood experiences since it is believed that these experiences provided the groundwork for future experiences. By digging down deep, it “helps patients better understand the unconscious forces that can play a role in their current behaviors, thoughts, and emotions” (Cherry, 2020).
I often reported dreams to my psychologist that took place in my childhood home. Ironically, my childhood home became a symbol of trauma. It is where most of my trauma took place, and this same home burnt down when I was nineteen years old. My psychologist said when a past setting like this arose that it often meant there was unresolved past trauma.
Fast forward to this past week. I knew right off the bat that there was something “unresolved” poking its head out from my subconscious. I told my therapist about the dream. As I brought it up, I thought about why it hurt so much. My dad recently passed away this past October from liver failure and nearly five decades of drinking. Sober, my dad was a great guy. He made everyone laugh and helped whoever he could. Drunk, my dad turned into a monster who became verbally aggressive and absent.
It was a literal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. He took a sip of his potion and turned into this hideous, unrecognizable beast. This distinction plucked at my heartstrings and conflicted with my beliefs towards grief. Following my home burning down, I coped with loss by focusing on what I good I could take away from the experience. I honed in on the silver lining in the form of positive memories or a lesson learned.
In this instance, I had no problem grieving Dr. Jekyll. It was Mr. Hyde that created an issue. I needed to grieve the bad side of my father as well. Even as a mental health counselor, I am definitely struggling with acceptance on this one, but I definitely need to start the process. As much I do not miss that side of him, it was still part of the equation.
-The Caring Counselor
Cherry, K. (2020, November 19). How does psychoanalytic therapy work? Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-psychoanalytic-therapy-2795467#:~:text=The%20goal%20of%20this%20therapy,of%20thhttps://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-psychoanalytic-therapy-2795467#:~:text