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Dream: 4.28.2017

April 28, 2017

{Nightmare. I haven’t had a doozy like this one in a while. I wonder what set this one off?}

There are at least four timelines for this dream. It’s possible I woke up several times, but kept reentering it.


There’s a big-screen TV at the far end of a large room, and a bunch people are sitting around watching it noisily. At the near end of the room, there’s a long desk. A woman who looks like Mackenzie Phillips is sitting behind the desk; my father is sitting across from her. I’m in a chair at the short end to Mackenzie’s right. Mackenzie and my father talking.

Suddenly my father turns to me and asks me what I know about Mackenzie Phillips. I’m confused. I say, “She’s right there, Dad, why don’t you ask her?” But he asks me to humor him, and I briefly wonder if they just look alike but aren’t the same person. It turns out I know a lot about Mackenzie Phillips, surprising even myself with my recollection — I tell my father I read a biography of hers.

I feel sad for how confusing and complicated her life is been, but I’m cautiously pleased that she seems to be doing well now.

At the end of it, she’s smiling at me, but doesn’t say anything. My father turns back to her and they start talking again.


I pick up a broadsheet lying around. Its title: “How to be your own therapist”. I think to myself, “well I know how to do that! I’ve been ‘counseling’ myself in between the 10 times I’ve been in therapy… since I was a kid really.”

Then I wonder if my father is in counseling, with Mackenzie? Or is our entire family somehow in counseling? Because why else is everyone here? The crowd at the TV includes Kendra and her mother, my mother’s sister. Why would they be here? Are they getting their own counseling? But then why do it at the same time as us? I’m confused.


There is some weird but playful hijinks with my brother Neal and one other person. In the moment it feels incongruous for me that Neal is actually acknowledging me, and acting? as if he wants to be there. Almost as if he likes me. But that can’t be right. I don’t pursue the thought.


{Here is where the endings split up.}


Our family session completed, all of us are walking down a very long hallway, that turns at odd angles, with a sloped slippery floor. I’m upset with everyone else so I go on ahead, but there are some weird acoustics allowing me to still hear what they’re saying. Damon and Erynn are maybe talking to a third person, maybe my mother. They say, “if Mea talks to Kendra, Kendra will ruin everything. We, no you, should forbid her to talk to anyone in the extended family!”

In the hall ahead of them, I wonder if I will have to lie to them directly. If I lie to someone who means me harm, is it still wrong? Better yet, can I somehow avoid promising anything?

From a side hall, I see Kendra. I rush over to her. I ask her if she was in counseling? Are we all in counseling? What on earth is going on?

She looks confused, overwhelmed.



{A very complicated and ominous set of circumstances, but I don’t remember any details. Perhaps thankfully.}



I got to the end of the hallways, still alone. I step out the main doors. It’s dark night with lots of stars. It’s snowing, and bitterly cold. I realize I don’t have socks on, and the car is parked way across the parking lot.

I have the sense that if I get into the car, if I wait for my family to join me, then I won’t leave the car alive. Or I will, but I’ll never leave their house alive — I’ll be shut up in their basement, as something they want to hide, until I starve. Or worse.

I run back into the building. In the lobby there’s a small store: maybe they’ll have socks! My mother finds me as I’m looking at yellow fluffy socks. She’s annoyed, wants us to get going. I want her to buy me these socks (since I’ve realized I don’t have any money with me).

Later, I put the socks on and they are warm but I still don’t have shoes. I walk back outside, separate from the rest of my family. I look up at the stars and fantasize that I can fly, that I can escape them and never come back.

Then my mother comes up behind me…



I want to know the truth once and for all.

I get all up in my mother’s face. I challengingly demand she tell me if she wishes I was dead. By the end, I’m screaming and crying, but I don’t let up on my question.

I’m making a huge scene, and everyone around is fixated watching us.

My mother wears this tight smile that I know only too well. It says, “I didn’t have to do anything! Now everyone around can see that she’s crazy! She did it to herself! This is perfect!”

My mother does not answer my question.

My mother does not say, “Hate you? ‘Wish you were dead’? Don’t be absurd! Of course I love you!” My mother says nothing, but keeps smiling.


{My body is shaking, and I dimly remember that there is a lot more. Scarier even. I don’t want to recall it. I’m afraid to.}



Today my father has a milestone birthday. His brother, my uncle Joe — my father’s best friend all his life — died in 2015, a month before he reached this milestone.


A month ago I wrote to a friend that I know my mother has long wished that I was dead. That while I first became aware of it in 1985, I’ve only gotten more convinced of it over the years since.

Say my cousin the rapist had, in fact, managed to kill me while I was living in his parents’ house. That would have, quite neatly, solved a bunch of my mother’s problems: the weirdo kid who (clearly!) was never going to be able to take care of herself; the changeling child that nobody liked; the supersmart child that yearned to do Big Things, change the world — couldn’t she see no one would ever help her!

When I was a kid, my mother made ‘jokes’ about wishing she’d had guppies instead of children, because when guppies pissed you off (?!), you just flushed them down the toilet. Problem solved! This image only got more horrifying as I got older.


Last night I was thinking about something my mother had said to 6 y.o. me that had traumatized me. I had long given her credit for thinking she had said it to reassure me, but it backfired.

Last night I realized, she wasn’t thinking of me at all. Of course she wasn’t! She was terrified for herself. She was using magical thinking to inoculate herself against disaster.

I bet she never once thought what the effect would be on me. Six year old me.

Preparing herself for what she knew would be a hard birth of her last child — a process that might actually kill her, and possibly the baby as well — my mother assured me that “if something bad would happen to me, if I were to die, you and your younger siblings will each go to your godparents, and be raised among their children. You will be safe.”

Before that conversation, it had never occurred to me that a parent could die.

But once it had been brought to my attention, why wouldn’t we stay with my father? (Granted, the only food my father knew how to make was toast. He did no housekeeping whatsoever. I’m not even sure he liked children. Still.)

Unlike my sister, my godparents weren’t married to each other — lived hundreds of miles apart. My godfather (Uncle Joe) didn’t like me, but he and his family lived geographically closer.

Now I worried I would never see my siblings again. That we would become strangers to each other.

I worried I would never see my father again.

Prescient, all of it.


My mother did almost die when Neal was born. The doctor gave my father a choice: good Catholic that he was, my father chose the baby. Somehow the doctor was able to save both.

(I know the above, by the way, because my father told 20-something me, during a long car ride in which I wished I was anywhere else. Another trauma.)


I don’t know what to do with these feelings, these confused and jumbled feelings, about people who don’t care about me and never did.

People who just saw me as a BIG EAR. As a hole to be filled up with everything they feared and hated and wished could just disappear.


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