When I was a little girl, I dreamed that my sister planted a poisonous spider that bit and killed me while on a family picnic. I died and went to heaven. There, completely alone with God, I wept and mourned while I waited for my family to join me. But they never came. I awoke weeping inconsolably.
It would be easy to discount this dream as the dramatic and morbid imaginings of a young child’s creative mind. But just recently, while reading Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child, I was reminded that when a child dreams of dying, it is because he has died to his true self in real life. Rather than dismiss these dreams as meaningless, it is essential that we mourn the death of that earlier true self and nurture within ourselves the birth of our authentic self once and for all. We must give rise to our Love Voice and never again let it be silenced.
Here are some of the ways our true selves die in childhood:
- We are not allowed to express our true feelings. We are punished or something else bad happens when we do.
- We are not permitted to dress ourselves or otherwise present ourselves to the world the way we would like. Our tastes are not acceptable in some fundamental way.
- We must attend to the desires of others around us so much that we lose track of what we want. Or we mistake their desires as our own.
- We suffer neglect or abuse of any kind. Abuse is anything that is less than nurturing, from our point of view, not the point of view of the parent or caregiver.
- We are required to take on too much responsibility. We become the “little helpers” for our parents or caregivers and end up without a childhood.
- We receive too much emotional intensity from our parents or caregivers, or too much information, or too much closeness.
There are other things that might cause our true selves to die, and each of the above deserves further exploration.
The end results of any of these situations is that in order to survive, the child must pretend that all is well. It is in the pretending that death to the true self occurs. Later in life, the grownup child will continue to pretend, not knowing any other way. He or she will pretend that they are willing to do things they are not, that they are happy when they are not, that they are comfortable when they are not, that they are confident when they are not, and so on. They may not even realize that they are pretending anymore because it has become second nature. But underneath a glittering facade that says everything is fine, they are miserable, anxious, and angry.
If your true self had to die in childhood, take the time to mourn your loss. Then begin the process of healing and reclaiming the self you never knew. Learn to strengthen and express Your Love Voice. It is never too late for the healing that brings peace, joy, and satisfaction.
What things did you have to deal with that caused your true self to die as a child? Write to me and share your experience!