at night

clearly, my parents did not associate the nightmares with adoption trauma

When I was a little girl, I had terrible nightmares. I literally became sick to my stomach when it was bedtime because I knew that as soon as I fell asleep, I’d have a bad dream. Night time was always a battle, and my mom had little patience for all of my wanderings out of bed. I was particularly afraid of the dark. I’m talking beyond your normal childhood fears of the dark. Some of my friends lived in wooded, rural areas, and I remember at sleepovers being spooked by what I imagined was out there, hidden in the shadows. It didn’t help that everyone shared ghost stories about Lizzie Borden and Bloody Mary. Why did we ever think that was a fun idea? Nightmares or night terrors are not an uncommon childhood experience. My daughter had them frequently when she was pre-school aged. If you’ve ever had nightmares, you understand how frightening they can be, especially to a young child. The feeling of helplessness and paralysis that the nightmares rendered was overwhelming. I didn’t understand why I had them, although now I know that many adopted children experience nightmares due to trauma. In those days, therapy was unheard of for adopted children. Clearly, my parents did not associate the nightmares with adoption trauma. I don’t think that such trauma was even recognised. As I got older the nightmares subsided. To this day, however, the memories of what I dreamt are still so vivid. At night is a recollection of those terrible dreams, but much less terrifying.


Author: Mj

LCSW, Music Therapist-Board Certified, Author, Adoptee

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