I had a dream about my ex-husband last night. He came into my house, like he still owned it and he was rummaging though my stuff. My live in babysitter was trying to stop him and telling him to get out. (I do not actually have one at this time, and in my dream my babysitter was my next door neighbour).
His response was to tell her he was going to do whatever he wanted and continued to go through my house taking what he wanted. Eventually he took a large knife and left. We called the police and we were in fear for our lives.
The thing that I really remember about the dream is that realization that no matter what you say, it never made a difference to him. He was going to do whatever it was he wanted to do and that was that. It didn't matter that it was not his house, when it came to me there was zero respect for boundaries.
It was a real reminder of the impenetrable wall I dealt with at that time. What appeared in my dream was not imagined, his behaviour and demeanor were exactly as he had been during our marriage. It made me remember how much I disliked living with him, and how horrible it was to experience that level of control. I remembered how helplessness I used to feel on a daily basis. It also reminded me of the uncurrent of fear. While he didnt hurt me there was always the undercurrent that he was capable of it, and he might. It was only by his choice that I was spared from this violence.
It suddenly occurred to me that the reason he never hit me wasn't because he didn't want to, or that he would never do anything like that. It was because he never had too. He was able to control me by using the threat alone. In my dream, when I heard his voice, I froze. Just like I used to do when he was here. Internally, I knew he could and would hurt me, and it was a thin barrier that prevented physical violence. The result was I stayed meek. I did not challenge him, and I stayed within the limits he set for me.
However, things changed at the end of our marriage, he was losing control. Because of this he began to escalate. I remember the moment I was looking into his eyes and I knew that thin layer that had held him back from hitting me was gone. It was going to happen, it was only a matter of time. I shudder to think the damage he could have done to me. At the time he was a very big man, extremely powerful and muscular. His fist in my face no doubt would have broken facial bones and dislodged teeth.
I guess my dream indicates that deep inside I still do not feel totally safe. Or maybe I have finally reached the point of healing that I am able to remember safely. My awake brain knows he will not come over here and do anything. He has received a warning from the police that the next time he comes here without express permission he will be charged. I have taken the steps I need to be safe from him. And honestly, he is in fact a coward. Once outside authorities became involved he backed off. It's only when it's someone smaller and weaker than him that he feels powerful.
The other thing my dream made clear is he is not that man anymore. Now he is essentially a weak old man. He has has lost his once youthful and powerful appearance. His deterioration has actually been quite shocking.
I think the final lesson out my dream is though I feared him so completely for so many years, and during that time the threat was very real. There is no longer any reason to fear. That danger no longer exists.