For some time, Bunny has been experiencing a reoccurring nightmare. She dreams monsters come in our house and eat our entire family, except for her. She is left alone with no parents, no home, and no place to go.
The dream follows the same script with a few variations. Once the monsters burned the house down and roasted us inside. They have tried smashing the house, but when they were unsuccessful, they went to our barn and ate all of the animals. The rest of the dream is always the same, we end up dead and Bunny ends up alone.
We’ve tried countless times to help Bunny with the dreams that leave her overtired and unsettled. Once we talked her through a dream letting her tell the tail in detail. We asked questions like, “What were the monsters wearing?” “Did they use good table manners when they ate us?” “Did they have bad breath?” But, the levity didn’t seem to make the dreams go way.
Then we tried to “re-style” the monsters. Since Bunny is a budding fashionista, we decided to glam up the monsters. We thought a monster wearing a black and white zebra-print dress, neon green leopard print shoes, large dangling frog earrings, and a pink hair bow surely couldn’t be all that scary. But, the nightmares still haunted her.
Yesterday morning, Bunny awoke again with bags under her eyes and a tired, resigned air about her. I was so busy getting breakfast made and both girls out the door for the school bus that I never really noticed anything wrong. It wasn’t until we were in our therapist’s office that I noticed the dark circles under her eyes. I asked her about the dream and after a moment’s hesitation she told our therapist about her dreams and how she felt afterwards.
She suggested when Bunny has a dream about the monsters and she can’t sleep, she should turn on the light and draw a picture of her dream, rip the page out of her notebook, crumple it up in a ball, and then throw it in the garbage. In the morning, she should tell us about it so we can get it out of her garbage and throw it away forever.
She also told me this is a method used with traumatized patients and those with PTSD in order to get the event out of the subconscious and out of the brain altogether. I wondered if Bunny’s dreams of being left alone in the world wasn’t in some way connected to her abandonment issues. She had been given up at birth by her birthmother, and then taken away from her foster mother when we adopted her.
Our therapist said that dreams are a way for the subconscious to deal with issues the brain isn’t ready for yet. If we can successfully deal with Bunny’s nightmares, her fears of abandonment may become more manageable. She felt the dreams were a breakthrough and that Bunny’s protective wall was starting to crumble.
This morning, Bunny woke up with a picture of monsters eating her sister. She wadded it up and threw it in the garbage. All of a sudden she seemed happy and secure. She bubbled all over her eggs and bubbled her way out to the bus, seemingly like she hadn’t a care in the world.
I never imagined a dream could be the start of a therapeutic breakthrough, but I guess all it took was a zebra-print wearing monster to sit on Bunny’s wall for the bricks to all start crumbling down.