This morning over coffee, my husband told me of a nightmare he’d had involving a body buried deep below his childhood home. In the dream, it belonged to someone he had murdered and he was afraid of it being discovered. I actually looked this up on a dream interpretation site, and it said a dead body that you have to hide represents guilt.
As he was telling me this dream I recalled a similar dream I have had on a regular basis. My dream always takes place in the house we moved into after my sister was born and my mom and stepdad finally got married. I lived there for 7 years until I went away to art school, but it was not a happy house. It was far from where my dad and brothers lived, and I never felt like I belonged there. From my perspective, my stepfather was a profoundly unkind person. He seemed to get pleasure out of causing other people pain. He criticized the way my mom had raised me and my 2 older brothers, saying we were lazy and ungrateful. He picked on my speech with mock concern. He attended meetings with my speech therapist and pretended to care about my progress, but it seemed more like he was trying to catch me doing something wrong. During those meetings my therapist told my mom and stepdad that I was able to use fluency techniques successfully in the therapy room. This was true, but like many other people who stutter, it was really difficult for me to generalize these to everyday life.
If I stuttered at home he would make me repeat what I was saying and insist I use the techniques I learned in therapy. Sometimes he would make me repeat something as many as 10 times. If I failed to speak fluently he would get angry and call me lazy and complain about the money they were paying for therapy — I believe my therapy was provided by the school at no cost to my parents. Of course I was rarely able to produce any fluent speech under that kind of pressure. Often his anger made me stutter even more. He also had a habit of rapping me on the top of my head with his knuckle if I blocked too long on a word.
Needless to say, this was not a good environment for me and no one would be surprised that I had nightmares about that house. My nightmares usually involved me realizing that I had murdered someone and hidden the body in the garage or back yard. Some event was about to happen where I was sure this body would be discovered and I needed to move it before it was found.
It seems funny that my dream is so similar to that of my husband’s, especially since we came from very different homes. But I realized as my husband was telling me his version, that I haven’t had this dream in a very long time. I would even venture to say that I haven’t had this dream since I started accepting my stutter and became overt about it.
I’m not sure what the body represents, but I don’t think it represents guilt. I feel much more guilty now about being covert than I ever did while I was living that way. It could represent my anger toward my stepfather, or maybe anger at my mother for staying with him for so long. I suspect though, that it represents my negative feelings toward stuttering. Now I have given that ‘body’ — all my anger, frustration, fear, humiliation, and shame over stuttering, a final burial and sent it away to wherever terrible symbols go when they die.
If I ever have that dream again I will re-interpret what it means, but for the time being, I’m sticking with this idea.