It's 3:30am. I've been awake since just before 3:00, woken up by one of the most disturbing dreams I've had in a while. I'm one of those who rarely remembers her dreams, so the fact that I remember this one is something of note.
My dad, as a father, was not a very nice man. He was physically abusive, more so to my older siblings than to me, I think. I remember one horrible beating he gave one of my brothers when we were little. Other than that, it was just spanking for me. And the beating he gave my brother was just for playing in my grandparents' car. I was given some pretty bad spankings by him, and his belt hanging from a hook (nail?) in the doorway between our kitchen and living room was our deterrent when we started acting up. (In other words, being kids.) The physical abuse did stop for us after we got older, but that just meant he switched to emotional abuse. I got it the worst for whatever reason. My mom says she can't explain it either.
My dad passed away years ago, but in my dream he was alive. And although the memory of the dream is getting foggier now the longer I'm awake, I think I remember knowing my dream was a dream because he was in it and I knew he was dead. There was just me, my mom, my dad, and my niece in the dream. We were all in the house we had through my entire childhood, the house where all my siblings and I grew up. My dad, niece, and I were in the living room and my dad was berating my niece about something (very much like he had done to me a few times). In the dream, my niece isn't the age she is now. She was younger...perhaps junior high school age. I knew my mom was in the house and I went looking for her and found her in one of the bedrooms at the back of the house. I remember a whispered conversation with her about how my dad was a bully and that it wasn't fair or right what he was doing to my niece. My dad then came down the hall to go into the bathroom and my mom and I stopped the conversation while he walked past, but continued it until he came out again. We followed him into the living room and by the time we got there, he was again yelling at my niece who was curled up onto a chair in the living room, trying to shrink herself, make herself small. She turned her back to my dad which apparently really made him angry. (Interesting, I'm remembering I never once heard any words coming from my dad during the dream--but I knew what he was saying. Sort of a telepathic thing, I guess.) Anyway, he raised his arm and his telepathic thought was: "Don't you turn your back on me when I'm talking to you! Look at me!" In the dream my mom went to grab his arm and said "Don't you dare hit her!" My dad didn't even acknowledge this, and when my niece turned toward him, he hit her. Hard. I heard the strike of his open hand fall across her face. And what I remember clearly in the dream was being afraid. Afraid like I had always been of my dad, but deciding to take action anyway. I remember thinking, "Fuck this. He's not getting away with this." And in the dream I headed toward the phone, the intent being to call the police. I was furious with my dad and by God I wasn't going to have my niece suffer through what my siblings and I did as kids. Then, in a rare moment of dream clarity, I remembered thinking: You know this is a dream. So wake up and end it.
At that moment, I did wake up. The dream clung to me for a while. And as I sit here doing my crude and non-professional analyzing of it, I haven't come up with any hidden meaning really. I am really proud that in the dream I was still afraid, but did something anyway. And while it's just a dream, it's a bit of a metaphor for my waking life. For years and years I had been living a fear-based life. Doing or not doing what I did because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being hurt, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of upsetting someone, fear of losing affection and friendship...the list could go on and on. But I'm a stronger person now than I ever have been. I've faced quite a few fears in the past year and while not all of the "risks" of trying turned out well, I'm still here. I'm standing. I'm broken, but I've gotten up and am trying to put the pieces back together. I've proven to myself that I have grown and I have changed. And maybe me waking up and realizing it was a dream was me knowing that I do have power, even when it feels like I might not.