ELD Sample

The Dream of My First Seven Years


I dreamed the first seven years of my childhood. In the beginning of the dream I was on Fire Island walking on the dunes picking beach plums by myself. I was content. Another time I had been out on the beach and told my parents that I had met and talked with a man and in the conversation told him that my “daddy smoked pot out of a pipe”. This made my father very angry and he through me down on the sand in front of the cottage they were renting for the summer. He was yelling at me, telling me that I was never to tell anything to anyone about him, even if it was whether he liked peas and carrots. He warned me that if I ever did he would chop me up into pieces with a hammer. I was very scared and confused. I concentrated on not telling anyone what my father ate and being chopped up with a hammer.

In the next part of the dream I am alone at the playground on 28th St. Two teenage girls are picking on me and I am helpless against them. They finally put me in a trash can on the sidewalk outside the playground. I think I am crying and when my mother finally does come to get me she laughs when she sees me in the trash can which fills me with resentment because she doesn’t seem to care about how it happened or how it hurt me. I continue to be left in this playground that is part of a housing project. A large woman spends a lot of time looking out of her window—she gives me cookies, which are very good -And I am hungry. One day another group of teenagers somehow got me into the stairwell of the building next to the playground and started beating me up. One of them was jumping on my head when another group of teenagers were coming down the stairs and yelled at them to stop. They were all Puerto Rican and they took me back to the tenement building on 27th street. They tell my mother that she shouldn’t leave me alone.

We now live on 24th street and I have a baby sister named Naomi. I also have two friends Lisa and Laura. We have fun together. We play hop -scotch, jump rope, and use blankets at their house to pretend we are kings and queens. I like to wear their shoes. They are black patent leather and pointy. I feel transformed when I put them on. Their older sisters Lena and Louise are dressed for dressed for communion in white dresses and white veils—I am in awe. I wish I could wear those clothes and be like them. Lisa teaches me how to light matches. Louise uses matches to light a cigarette where she is hiding across the street. I am sitting on the window sill in my bedroom and I light a match but the whole book catches on fire and the curtains are on fire. I am panicked and run to the kitchen sink for some water. I throw cups of water on the curtains. The fire is out. The fireman knock on the door and I tell them I am not allowed to let strangers in the house. They come in and take my baby brother Chris in his bassinette and carry me down the stairs screaming and crying and grabbing at the grate in the center of the stairwell trying to prevent them from taking me. Once inside the police car I see my mother with the laundry cart piled high. She gets in with me and we go to the police station. I lie to my mother and try to convince her that I saw someone on the fire escape. When my father comes home he beats my bare bottom with a belt for a very long time. I scream with excruciating pain as he yells that I am never to play with matches again. I can’t convince him that he doesn’t need to beat me any more—I would never do that again.

Playing with Lisa and Laura and their cousins was a very happy time for me. They would come to my house and I would go to theirs. I remember a boy cousin of theirs playing with a telephone that made statements, one of which was “I love you”. We took turns kissing Carlos and falling on the bed giddy with laughter. We would call up at each other’s window to “come down”—it was mostly me calling them, they were content to be at home. One time my mother made paper mache puppets with me and my friends. We put on a puppet show. It was a magical time never to be repeated again.

Step Two: Revisiting My Early Life Dream

1. Describe the self that lived this early dream.

The character that I am in this dream keeps a low profile at home with her parents. She does not seek them out for any reason; she is independent seeking out her friends for fun and companionship. She is imaginative and friendly. She is an obedient girl who is afraid of her father.

2. What was your sense of self as you lived the dream?

I was an orphan looking for a family where I could feel at ease for my entire childhood. I survived by being careful not to break the rules, however the rules around food were at times too hard to follow especially because the food at home was so bland and I was often hungry.

3. What predominant feelings do you have about this early life dream as you read it?

It makes me sad, anxious, and angry. My parents were irresponsible. They did not nurture me. My father physically and emotionally abused me. Looking back I feel like I was the better person and they did not deserve me.

4. What was the state of your health during this early life dream?

I was unhappy at home but had fun with my friends.

5. Were there any strong intuitions that were formative in those years?

I knew I was on my own.

6. The formative yin and yang polarities:

a. Describe your mother (symbol of your formative yin force) in both her yin and yang characteristics as you experienced her in those early years.

I experienced my mother in the early years as almost a ghost who at times would come to life and betray my trust.

Yin: a natural beauty, long blond hair, blue eyes, nice figure, breast fed my younger sister, friendly, artistic
Yang: She was thin but not too thin. She was strong, hard working (which seemed to be her purpose in life), yelled like a man

b. Describe your father in the same way.

I experienced my father as a danger to be avoided.

Yin: sometimes he called me [a sweet nick name]. He listened quietly to the news on the radio.
Yang: He was unfriendly, often yelled in a roaring loud angry voice. He wore a full beard giving him an angry bear like presence.

c. As you look back on your predominant way of functioning, would you describe yourself as primarily yin or yang?

I was functioning more in the yang energy.

7. What symbols stand out for you in those early years?

a. Answer this question in the light of the whole dream. What persons, key objects, or places stand out for you?

1.) Cookies
2.) Shoes
3.) The Beach
4.) 24th Street
5.) Lisa and Laura

b. Then see if you can identify what this person, object, or place symbolizes in you.

1). Cookies—represent my ability to accept kindness from others and take care of myself even if taking care of myself meant breaking the no sweets rule.

2.) Shoes—represent the self-esteem I needed to build for myself. When I took off my ugly masculine looking orthopedic shoes and put on my friends beautiful feminine looking shoes I felt empowered; I had a little more pep in my step.

3.) The Beach—represents my personal growth. When I was alone at the beach, I felt warmed by the sun, exploring. The beach represents possibilities.

4.) 24th Street—represents my ability to seek out people who I could be myself with and create more yang energy.

5) Lisa and Laura—[was left incomplete]

8. What don’t you know about your early life dream?

I don’t know why my father was so violent. I don’t know why my mother was so neglectful.

9. What remains unresolved for you in this early life dream?

It bothers me that I was not nurtured to live up to my potential.

10. What do you feel especially good about when you reread your Early Life dream?

I feel good about having friends who I became close with and remain close with today. I am also proud of the fact that I put out the fire that I started in my bedroom.

11: What question do you ask yourself as a result of this exploration?


12: General comments:

I have not reached my potential.