I’ve always had the weirdest dreams. I can remember even in middle school I’d tell my friends about what I had dreamed at night and they’d be so confused. We’d all wonder, “where did that even come from?”
In 8-11 grade I spent the night at Nicole’s probably 3-4 times a week. Every morning Nicole would tell me about the things I had told her in my sleep, sometimes full conversations I’d had.
The earliest dreams, or really nightmares, I remember having were around the age of 7 or 8 years old, give or take a year or two. I remember having repeated dreams that I was being chased by a shooter and I could barely move. I remember my family being in danger, trying to protect my mom and dad and hide wherever I could.
I was very little when I would have these dreams. I would have them a lot while staying at my maternal grandparents house too. I can actually still remember waking up to a physical pain in the middle of my back after being shot in my dream. As if it were real. It was incredibly terrifying.
I’ve always had troubles with nightmares and with surreal dreams that leave me questioning and confused. I consider having a huge imagination and so much creativity a blessing, but this can be more of a curse when it comes to nightmares and dreams.
I don’t remember a lot of my dreams, thankfully. But I remember last year I would have so many nightmares, nightmares of feeling dark and trapped in different ways. I would dream of making huge mistakes and problems for others. Of not being able to move or run away. Waking up panicked, guilty, hopeless, and terrified. Sometimes they’d be about my trauma and those who inflicted it, but most of the time they were completely random, yet still completely terrifying.
Last year, Kristin would let me sit in her office often. Just to talk or not talk or to cry or to do my homework. But I remember having a reoccurring dream that I was dropping her one year old baby off at her house and I’d get into a car crash with him cooing in the back seat. I would jump awake with guilt and panic and fear.
Before going to treatment I would have nightmares in the middle of the night, waking up drenched in sweat, the front of my t shirt feeling like I dumped a cup of water on it. I would be in tears, shaking, and I’d fall right back to sleep. I wouldn’t remember what happened in my head but I could remember the fear and the terror. I’ve woken up and realized that I texted the people I dreamed of in the middle of the night to tell them things at 2 or 3 in the morning.
Ever since I left treatment, I have had so many dreams about returning. It’s so weird. Almost every other night I dream of returning to Renfrew. Most of the time I dream of visiting, wanting to see the people I knew there, wanting to feel the connection. But the dreams end with me waiting alone in Liz’s office and she never walks in the door. I dream of visiting her and she tells me she’s too busy right now, she can’t visit. I dream of relapsing and being a patient again, feeling so ashamed that I hide from the staff. Last week I dreamed that I sat at the “trays” table in the dining room and I hid pieces of pizza in drawers, refusing to eat at all. But the dining room staff, even Alexis, didn’t even notice. And Alexis sees all.
I had a dream last week that I went to visit Rebekah and we talked at her house for hours about what I’ve been up to. Probably a scenario that will happen the next time I visit her. But I woke up feeling heartbroken. It wasn’t real. I miss sitting with her and talking. And I miss not talking, her reading my mind.
I had an appointment with my nutritionist today and I felt so great and positive walking in. I told her about the podcast I’d done, the letter I wrote for Renfrew’s NEDA Week programming. I told her how I’ve sold twenty bracelets on my Etsy and how people were beginning to make custom, bulk orders. I talked about the sweet babies I nanny and the funny things they do. I really love talking to my nutritionist.
But we also talked about how my anxiety levels have been really high lately. A lot of it probably has to do with the stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself through speaking and writing.
I told her I wasn’t sleeping too well because of weird, sad, and scary dreams. I described the dreams I discussed above, about treatment and my therapists. She asked, “It sounds like you just really miss your therapists.”
I knew I missed my therapists, but I didn’t realize this may be what my brain has been trying to tell me subconsciously through these dreams. I told her how attached I get to therapists and how amazing they are. “Well how is your relationship with your therapist here?”
I made a face. “I just don’t feel connected to her at all.”
This means a lot. Because I get attached big time. I thought maybe I just needed to work on trusting her more. It was probably me not opening up. But it has been three months and there is still no connection or growth, really. And I promise I’ve been working really hard to make it work.
My nutritionist nod her head. “You are probably longing for that therapeutic relationship and your brain is demonstrating that in your dreams. These dreams are taking you back to a place where you had that relationship and connection.”
That made total sense. I really do miss having a therapist I felt comfortable and connected with. I miss having people who truly understand. I miss community and connection on these levels. There isn’t even an eating disorder anonymous group near Oxford.
One morning while in treatment, I asked Liz a question at breakfast. “Can you interpret a dream for me?”
I had a dream the night before that I woke up and went into the community room and every girl was wearing the same light gray pajama pants as me, with tiny pink moons and stars on them. And it was the most normal thing. No one said anything and we proceeded with group.
“Well, it sounds like you are feeling connected and comfortable here with the community,” she replied. Oh, yeah that would make sense. My dreams seem so weird and random but they make sense when perceived like this.
I haven’t been to see my therapist here in about four weeks. I know therapy isn’t supposed to be enjoyable, but I dreaded going and sitting and making uneventful, irrelevant small talk for an hour, with barely any feedback or response.
My nutritionist gave me the name and number of a new therapist here. She apparently works closely with my nutritionist and she runs an eating disorder group specifically for her patients.
I hope this is the connection and community I’ve been longing for since December. I love all of my people here and in Arkansas, but I need people who truly and genuinely get it, here with me in Oxford.