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Fundamentalist Christian Home – page 2

continued—

I was six. I had once again awakened terrified from a nightmare. Running downstairs, I found my parents sitting on the sofa watching TV. I curled up between them, sobbing as I described the dream to them, in all of its gory details.

My father wiped my eyes and sat me in his lap, “You’re a big enough girl now to understand how to stop these bad dreams,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Most people know when they’re dreaming and that includes you. You just need to be aware of your surroundings and when they seem hazy or weird, you must say to yourself, ‘Okay, this is a dream’. Then take your fingers and open your eyes very wide, and you’ll wake up in the dream. Once you understand that the dream can’t really hurt you and that you don’t need to be afraid anymore, it has no power over you. You can change the dream by choosing to put love where fear once was. You can make the monsters your best friends, or turn poison into ice cream!”

“Are you sure?” I asked, unable to believe that ending my nightly hell could possibly be this simple.

“We’re absolutely sure,” my mother said. “Anyone can do it. It’s simple; but kids have to be old enough to have it explained to them and you weren’t really old enough until now.” My parents’ voices held no reservation. Perhaps it was my need to believe that I could release myself from these dreaded nightmares, or perhaps it was my childish acceptance of everything that adults told me—whatever the reason—I was dreaming lucidly and enjoying my dreams within two or three nights. I wasn’t held captive by nightmares again for almost thirty-five years.

This was one of the many gifts that my parents gave to me. These gifts existed separate from the church and its teachings. These were gifts from their hearts; gifts that, today, I wonder if they knew the full meaning of.

Within their desire to guide their little girl through her nightmares, my parents empowered me beyond anything that they could have imagined. This particular gift not only comforted and guided me through my early days, gently navigating me through a childhood filled with fear and trepidation, but also helped set the cornerstone for who I would become. After learning to lucid dream and to perceive my fears differently, rendering fear harmless in my dreams, it seemed to me that I could see through similar illusions in life, and learn to relate to and contribute to my life’s story in a different way; a skill that was not as easily accomplished in the daylight, as it was in the darkness of night.

I was the third generation born into this "blessed" church and there was never any doubt, at least none stated, that I would continue the family tradition by forever remaining within the flock of God’s chosen few. Perhaps it was my desire to distance myself from this family identity and all that it entitled me to, that caused me, from about the age of seven, to introduce myself with bogus names and matching identities, to strangers. For a short time I was Becky from a farm in Iowa, after seeing Shirley Temple in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I was Leonora from another planet, until I overheard a woman in a shop say that I needed a therapist. I was Tamara and Stephanie, twins, whose job it was to collect data. I didn’t know what data meant, but it sounded intriguing. The list of names and identities went on.

Meanwhile, in my real world, bearing my true identity, I anxiously awaited the Second Coming of Jesus Christ along with the rest of my family. But at a very early age, I realized that the anxiousness that my parents felt was not the same as the anxiety that possessed me.

The excitement that lived between the covers of prohibited literature like "Cherry Aimes: Dude Ranch Nurse", or "Nancy Drew’s: The Hidden Staircase", was neither as frightening nor intimidating as was most of the church’s reading material. I was powerless over the seduction of these books’ exciting names and the secular non-threatening stories that lay between their covers. Sneaking to the local library, I secretly checked out such books, later reading them when I was supposed to be cleaning my bedroom or doing homework. I also touched my body and enjoyed the sensations and tingling that I could produce with my own hands. I was certain that I had more impure thoughts every day than most good folks had in a lifetime; and my dream-world, once it was under my control, was shamefully secular. I believed myself to be wicked to the core, with perhaps my worst sin being that I was a master sneak, going through life without leaving a hint of how vile and sinful I was. And no one seemed the wiser—for a while anyway.

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