A Barren Wasteland

Through this therapy journey I have often had dreams that take place in the same place. It’s a barren wasteland of sorts. Some sand. Heat radiates from the ground. There’s no shelter. The surface of the ground cracks from lack of water. It’s cloudy usually. And from any place in this vast post apocalyptic landscape you can see, on the horizon, a rising fortress. If you stand in the centre you can tell that these walls stretch all the way around. And there is no way through them. I get the sense I’m incredibly and intimately familiar with this place, but at the same time resigned to it. Resentful of it.

Yesterday, I dreamt of this place again, after my session. In my session A had asked if she could talk with the teen part of me… I was stuck in a memory of being 14 or 15 and she addressed that part of me directly. And while part of me scoffs at the ridiculousness of it, and part of me wants to cover my ears and tell her to shut up, there was a part of me that really resonated with what she was doing (inserting herself as a caring adult into my narrative). 

So I dreamt. I was wandering along the barren wasteland and saw people approaching in the distance. It was A, and with her, holding her hand, was Little PD, who I had left in her care a while ago. A never used to be allowed past the fortress walls, but she’s here now. And Little PD looks so content and secure. She’s wearing a blue dress and looks so much healthier than when I last saw her. She’s skipping alongside A as she walks, chattering away happily. I stare at them approach and without skipping a beat Little PD grabs my hand and starts to lead me along. I walk with her. A looks over her head at me and smiles compassionately.

And we come across this building built into a segment of the wall. Still within the confines of the desert I’m banished to, but new. I get the sense it’s been here for a long time but I’ve never seen it before. And Little PD drops A’s hand and tugs me along. She wants to go inside. She’s not speaking now, she’s very serious for such a little thing. 

And we enter this building, and I can hear talking, and we come through this hallway into a huge open space that’s long and narrow. We’re inside the walls. And we keep going and the talking stops. We open up to this room where I can see 40-50 of me, all teenagers, 13 – 18, inside this building that’s attached to the wall. And they all stop what they’re doing and look at me. And Little PD is running around, chattering to some, avoiding others, hugging a few, generally being a child. And I’m just standing there, staring at this group of me – some of whom I can identify from specific times because of what they’re wearing or doing. The one who is covered in my brothers blood – she won’t even give me the time of day – and I know exactly where she’s from. But I can’t place all of them. It’s clear that they’ve been here for a while. They’ve got a system set up. Some of them seem to know each other, and some of them don’t. They’re caring for themselves in a way, but they’re also trapped in this space. I know that each one of them is representative of a part of my life that I’ve severed off, amputated, so that I didn’t have to feel it. But they’re still here, living inside my defences, and some of them are pissed. Some are mad, some are sad, some are doing okay. A few are really, really, hurt. And I can’t find them all. And there are so. many. more than I ever thought.

They don’t want anything to do with A, but a few are warily accepting of me. Shocked to see me, but not aggressively so. And after a while, the little girl, little me (who has been doing who knows what so far), comes and tugs my arm, and tries to lead me back outside. I make a move to stay, because I want to interact with them, and she tugs at me and shakes her head no. It’s time to go. We leave, and without missing a beat, she grabs A’s hand, starts chatting again, and then we walk into the wall. Only they don’t stop, they go through the wall to the other side. They just walk right through it like ghosts. And I can’t, I try, but I end up walking up against it. Running into it. And I have to let go. I’m trapped in the centre. But I also can’t get back into that place where all of the various me’s are, without Little PD. It’s locked to me without her.

It was so revealing. I told A yesterday that my brothers email was so triggering, and its been even more so than I thought. The body memories, I’m constantly terrified, and I told her I want to sever this off, that I want to pretend it never happened and relegate this memory to the lock box. But that visual, of all the me’s I’ve done that too, all the times I’ve split. I didn’t realize that there were so many versions of me that I did that to as a teenager. I think this is coming from A talking directly to that teenager part yesterday. It’s them being like – we exist. And there is more than one of us. And there has been this stubbornness and rebellion and resistance in my work with A lately – and now I know where it comes from. 

Little PD seems content now, heard, but she isn’t the part of me that was the most hurt. She’s also very happy hanging out with A, and I’m not ready to take her back. It’s overwhelming to think of all I’ve severed to stay competent and alive. 

It’s a metaphor for this centre part, where I buried all the emotions. I can’t leave it because as long as they are trapped in the walls, I’m stuck in this barren wasteland. And seeing them all, was overwhelming. I imagine it’s like an emergency worker stumbling upon a multi car pile up. I don’t know where to start with this. I don’t want to abandon them anymore, but the hurt that exists in that part of me is palpable. And when I think of it, my breath catches in my throat. 

But they let me see them. And that’s something. At least it makes more sense now (or does it? I kind of feel insane).

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15 thoughts on “A Barren Wasteland

  1. you arent insane at all PD. I was fascinated by your dream. Its so revealing. I hope the teen parts can learn to feel loved and validated and accepted. Baby steps. Its hard to do it all at once. xxx

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  2. Pingback: Rebellion | Paper Doll Therapy Blog

  3. Thank you. It is so hard to rationalize the resistance sometimes. Don’t feel bad for advising me to! As much as I mentioned I wanted to quit, if all of me didn’t want to be in her office, it wouldn’t be. I will probably take a break not next week, but the week after that. Xx

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    • It definitely is becoming that sort of dream, and it was intense. Telling A about it felt so vulnerable, because she was in it. And in a major way. This teenage resistance I’m feeling where my actions are designed to push away but I really want connection makes so much sense to me now.

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  4. This is so cool. I don’t think you’re insane, but rather you are in touch with pieces of yourself that many others wouldn’t be able to access in such a metacognitive way. That sounds like a really fascinating dream, almost like the beginning of a good book. I hope it’s helping you cope with all of the past versions of yourself!

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    • Hazel I love that you started with “this is so cool” – made me feel so much better. I am in touch with a lot of myself. Maybe it will turn into a book, who knows. It is helping me understand my life better. Definitely.

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  5. You are not insane. I interpret to be you compartmentalizing each of your feelings and emotions. Even if it’s just in your dreams for now.
    I’m glad that you went to your session but feel bad for advising you to! It’s your choice to quit. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from therapy but for the right reasons. You were honest with A which would have taken a lot of courage.

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  6. You’re not insane at all PD. What you’re saying makes perfect sense to me. I know that it must be very daunting to feel all of that hurt, not to mention scary. But just try taking baby steps. A little bit at a time. And I can promise you that as scary as this process is, (I know it is because I’m doing it myself) I know that if you stay with it, you’ll come out the other side. We both will.

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