Anxiety and nightmares about past relationship

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    I am new to this forum. I have been reading the Tiny Buddha blog posts for years. I am being brave and hoping for some words that would break the endless circle of pain and lots of other negative feelings.

    Before I begin I want to say that my current relationship (over 16 years) is beautiful. My partner is very kind and he is beautiful from the inside and the outside. We have mutual respect and I am very happy to be with him.

    Now on to my problem. Almost every night for the past 17 years I wake up clenched in utter fear. I have nightmares about my ex. I really don’t want to see him in my sleep or in any manner. I don’t even want to think about him. I wish I had an eraser that I could delete him from my memories. Needless to say the relationship was unpleasant. I sleep walked into that relationship and woke up with nightmares since then. The relationship was brief about 2-3 weeks and he broke up with me, citing some rubbish excuse. I was upset of course, but it was what he said that was rather strange. Before our relationship began I told him very clearly that I don’t follow fashion and I only wear what I feel like, jeans and t-shirts. I didn’t give a damn about make up and I hate dressing up. I wanted an intellectual relationship, and I was concerned with getting to know each other rather than judging on exterior appearances. Anyway, I naively believed that it didn’t matter to him. So things were going rather well I though for the first 2 weeks and then he arranged to meet and didn’t turn up. I rang him several times, and I wanted to check he was ok. I was only concerned about his well-being. Well he rang me a few days later and asked me to meet him. I told him I was happy to know he was ok, and he didn’t give me any indication something was up. So  I meet him and he told me that I was needy and that he didn’t like the way I dressed up etc, and that he wanted to break up. I said no problem and wished him the best of luck. I was very polite and respectful, and he was rude and not very nice. I wish that was the end of it. Few weeks later, to my horror I discovered that I was pregnant despite the use contraceptives. So we were in contact again to discuss what to do. He would be nice one day and the next day he would be cold and rude. Anyway, I had no choice for various reasons and I opted for abortion. I didn’t feel anything at that time, few weeks later there was immense anger. Since then I have been stuck in a cycle, over and over again. The stuff he said, and it was unpleasant. I felt as if he left hate and shame. Of course, I moved on and did everything I could. I consulted my doctors and they diagnosed me with PTSD and I went through an 8 week psychotherapy treatment. I took medication, tried to work. I really struggled with waking up the next day. Despite all this, I felt dirty just with the thought of being with him. I slept around just to get him out of my skin it didn’t work. I drank lots and well things didnt go so well with my doctorate and other areas of my life. And when things were really bad, I stood at the edge of a bridge and that’s how I met my current partner. He didn’t realise what was going on, we just talked about chess and history. I felt so happy when I saw him, and I felt that I knew him forever. I felt I had found home. Nobody has loved me or cared about me like my partner has. We moved to different locations around the country and nearly 9 years ago I even left the UK and moved somewhere very beautiful in Europe.

    The problem is many nights per week I wake up trying my best not to scream. I see my ex in my dream, and the stuff he said. I know that my underlying chronic clinical depression uses the death of my parents and this unfortunate relationship as fodder to remind me of its existence. A decade ago, I tried writing to him to find closure. He returned the letter. Few years after I tried to ring him, and I am not sure if he realised that it was me as I only said Hello. He barked at me and said never ring him again. I was ringing him from a different city, and we were not in contact. So I am really not sure what was going on. So yes, I learnt that asking him to say sorry to help me heal was a really terrible idea and perhaps even selfish. In the first five years, I had random unwanted thoughts about revenge rather intricate ones too. I felt really bad, and I told my psychologists everything, one of them told me that she would ring the police if anything happened to him. So I trusted her and always confided in her, in case I hurt him or anyone. I think it was for the best as I have a very strong scientific background. There were times I was scared. I threw myself completely and utterly into my research and actively focused my mind on being with my current partner. So it was working for some years, until my parents passed away and I lost my research career for being stubborn about the uncertainties on the results. Funding bodies and scientists reviewing funding applications don’t take “maybe” and uncertainties, so people like me end up getting the push. However, few years later my publications did impact my field but as they say “shoot the messenger”, so I can never go back. Well, this was a blow six years ago. I am now training to be an artist and I find it helps me deal with my depression. I focus my mind on work during the day, when my ex ghosty thing pops in my head, I keep working and I ignore him. But I dread sleeping, that’s where this evil apparition torments me in my dreams.

    I feel as if I am cheating on my current partner, if I see my ex in my dream. I really don’t want him in my dreams or in my thoughts. I did find one exercise helpful, when he appears in my head I get an eraser I erase him and the scene. But I can’t find the eraser in my sleep and in my dreams. Mostly in my dreams he just utters hate towards me, and I feel as if I can’t run away from him. Then my sisters and friends join in sometimes, but mostly its him.

    My ex probably doesn’t even remember me. I really want him to forget about me. I want to erase my memories of him forever from my dreams/nightmares. I asked my partner if I am a bad person, and he says I am the loveliest and kindest person he knows. He thinks my ex is a waste of space and I should not dwell on it.

    I want to win this fight. I want him out of my sleep mode, dream world, and totally out of my head.

    Any advice you may have would be appreciated. I am sorry for the lengthy post.

    Many thanks!!


    Hello Moondrop,

    You have a beautiful relationship with your husband who describes you as the loveliest and kindest person he knows.  Your husband saved your life that day.  I truly believe he was brought to you for that purpose.  You felt like you had known him forever, you were so happy to see him, you felt that you belonged with him (home).

    Your ex-boyfriend has blamed the break-up on you.  The reality is that it took two and you were not right for each other.  You were and are angry at this person.  Anger arises when someone doesn’t behave how we expect them to.  I am no expert but your nightmares suggest that you have not dealt with the ending of this relationship fully.  You had a very short time with him, he was not a pleasant person and you should be counting your lucky stars that you are no longer with him.

    Your nightmares suggest that he still has a hold over you which means you are still attached in some way.  When we meet people we throw out invisible cords to each other and if/when we part, those cords need to be reclaimed by ourselves.  I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “hooked in” – his hurtful words and behaviour need to be “hooked out” by you.  You need to cut the cords.

    I like to envisage a flowing river with myself and the other being at opposite sides of the bank.  He is holding a letter in his hand on which is written all the things that he has said and done to hurt me.  I see him stepping on to a raft with the letter and floating away into the distance.  I wish him well on his journey (through life) and then I walk away forever.

    I hope you find peace soon.

    Kind regards,



    Dear moondrop:

    I will retell your story based on your original post on this thread and on a post you submitted on another thread. It helps me process information when I do that:

    You grew up having three older sisters, the youngest of them is seven years older than you, if I understand correctly. These three sisters “were obviously in control and dictated my life”, you wrote. You gravitated toward the opposite of what they were about: they loved “socializing, fashion and fitting in. I was the opposite…even now I rarely go buy clothes or shoes. My boyfriend shops for me”. They were inclined towards humanities and social sciences, and you- towards sciences.

    One childhood experience you referred to as your “worse nightmare” was “being dragged around shopping centres with my sister and my mum for hours. I despised every second of it”.

    You began your scientific career as a Lab Technician, later got your BSc in Chemistry, had a few years of industrial work experience, returned to academia and got your MPhil (Master of Philosophy) , PhD and several years of postdoctoral research. You then hurt your back, “triggered by severe stress”, lost your parents and left academia. You lost your research career “for being stubborn about the uncertainties on the results”.

    Next you developed your artistic (painting and drawing) and creative writing skills, studying your art materials from a scientific perspective. You now think of yourself as “both an artist and a scientist”, and you are writing a novel with a strong scientific element to it, it being “based on the behavior of molecular assemblies”.

    You currently have a partner for over 16 years, a wonderful,  loving man. But “every night for the past 17 years”, you wake up “clenched in utter fear… trying my best not to scream”, having nightmares about a man you dated for 2-3 weeks before you met your partner, about 17 years ago.

    When you met this man, you told  him very clearly that you “don’t follow fashion and I only wear what I feel like, jeans and t-shirts”, that you “didn’t give a damn about make up and I hate dressing up”, and indicated to him that you didn’t want to judge or be judged on exterior appearances. During the first two  weeks of meeting him the two of you had sex, and one day he told you that you were needy, that he didn’t like the way you dressed, and that he wanted to break up, “he was rude and not very nice”. A few weeks later you discovered that you were pregnant despite using contraceptives, got in contact with him to discuss what to do, he was “nice one day and the next day he would be cold and rude”, you then had an abortion.

    “I didn’t feel anything at that time, few weeks later there was immense anger”. You “felt as if he left hate and shame” and “felt dirty just with the thought of being with him”. You saw doctors, were diagnosed with PTSD, had eight weeks of psychotherapy, took medication, slept around, drank a lot and at one point, “stood at the edge of a bridge”. It was then that you met your partner. “I felt so happy when I saw him, and I felt that I knew him forever. I felt I had found home”. The two of you moved to  different locations around the UK and nine years ago, left the UK and moved “somewhere very beautiful in Europe”.

    Years later you wrote this man a letter, he returned it, you called him and he screamed at you  to not call him again.

    In the first five years following this 2-3 weeks of dating and the abortion that followed, and while in a wonderful relationship with your partner, you “had random unwanted thoughts about revenge rather intricate ones too”. You suffer from clinical depression, you manage to not think about this man during the day but he appears in your dreams: “Mostly in my dreams he just utters hate towards me, and I feel as if I can’t run away from him. Then my sisters and friends join in sometimes, but mostly its him”.

    My understanding: your few weeks experience with this man 17 years ago,  a couple of months perhaps, including the communication over the pregnancy and the abortion, and including his rejection of your couple of efforts to contact him over the years,  activated your very distressing childhood experience. It is the real life nightmare of your childhood that you experience at nights, in your dreams.

    For a child who is trapped in a distressing childhood, time gets an eternal feel to it, it stops moving, and the child cannot see an end to the distress. This eternity-feeling experience gets well recorded in the brain of a child and it doesn’t .. disappear in adulthood, as we shed our skin, not our brain.

    Somehow, and likely in many ways, your mother and sisters didn’t allow you to be you, and instead, trapped you in a box of who they were. When you expressed independence, they rejected you angrily. You needed their approval but you also needed to be free of that box, so you took on the opposites of their behaviors, values and inclinations.

    This man long ago rejected you angrily, just like they did,  and you were angry at him, just like you were angry at your mother and sisters (and maybe at your father as well, I don’t know). All that get activated at night.

    “I want to erase my memories of him forever from my dreams/nightmares”- it is the memory of your childhood that show  up in your dreams/ nightmares, I believe.

    What do you think?





    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by anita.

    Hello Anita,

    Thanks for re-writing my post? I appreciate what you are trying to do!!  I wrote a reply to the previous post where I thought it might help explaining how my career progressed.

    Yes, I did say that being dragged around the shopping centre was the worst thing that may have happened, but I exaggerated that point to show the contrasting behaviours and personality. However, I did subtly elude to the fact that I have a history of child sexual abuse.

    I am a bit embarrassed to tell you my history, but here is a summary:

    1. I was born in England, and my parents were from Pakistan. I was raised in both England (most of my life) and Pakistan (few years). I mostly identify myself as British. My mother was traditional and religious while my father was progressive and open-minded. I was very close to my father. I aspired to be like my Dad, who was very technical minded and invented and devised instruments (he was an engineer). I was very close to my Dad, and I also loved my mum too of course.

    2. From the age of 4 to 19, I was unfortunately sexually abused by some of my relatives and neighbours. I never told my parents, as I was scared that it would hurt them and I thought they would not believe me. Unfortunately, my older brother was one of the abusers so I could never tell my parents. I don’t regret shielding my parents from this hurt, sadly, my parents are no longer alive. Perhaps due to these harsh experiences I never wanted to be with an Asian man, and I was frightened about getting married or having a boyfriend. My relationship with my second oldest sister grew bitter by the day, she verbally abused me in front of guests and hit me. My parents didn’t stop her. The relationship got worse by the day as I retaliated, and I asked my parents if I could move out. They were upset, and emotionally blackmailed me to stay with them. I looked forward to working in the lab and getting away. Weekends were a torture, with my older brother and sisters visiting. My 2nd eldest sister visited my parents every evening and she timed it very well so she had every opportunity to knock me down. Eventually, I had a breakdown aged 21 and I was taken to the hospital. That’s when I got help and I was  able to talk to someone about what I was going through, without my family there. I asked the psychiatrists not to inform the police as I had to protect my parents at any cost. They kindly agreed. I was diagnosed with chronic clinical depression and PTSD.

    3. When I was 23, I was finally able to leave my family home at least in the term time. I chose a university based on distance rather than on merit. I felt great at first, and it was great being able to breathe. I also looked forward to see my parents during holidays. However, things began to catch up, depression got worse, I began to drink (not excessively) to cope with the painful memories.

    At the end of my degree my parents wanted me to move back. However, things were looking ominous, my older sister (7 years older) and my younger brother announced that they had agreed to the arranged marriages. My family are from a very strict feudal tribe, political marriages are there to stop in-fighting and even killings (over land ownership and more complicated political and historical issues). My siblings were happy with their respective matches. I felt I was in danger, so far I had been out of their attention as I was kindly labelled by my sister as “abnormal”. Being diagnosed with Depression may have saved my life.

    I didn’t have a choice I found a job as far as I could which meant I could live on my own. This was the time when I started getting into relationships without much care. I was really frightened. I am not sure how that would have helped, but I just went along with the idea. None of my relationships lasted very long, as I was too naive to know that I was being used. I even thought about carrying a capsule filled with poison (I had access to such materials), if I were being forced to marry someone. Most nights I had to drink lots of alcohol to be able to sleep. I was clenched in fear. I kept my second life a secret from my family. I tried to live my life without hurting anyone, or being dramatic. My parents never knew about any of my relationships ever, not even about my long-term partner. I kept my drinking, medicines and smoking, and anything I thought that would hurt them well-hidden. It was essential for me to keep them away from any hurt, so I lied to them over and over again. I don’t regret it.

    4. I was unable to stay in one job for more than 3 months, when I felt it began to get repetitive. I needed to solve problems to keep my mind fully engaged. Once I figured it out I would resign and move to another job (I was always in demand, despite leaving the jobs abruptly). After 2 years I returned to academia in the hope to be able to engage with research. At first things went well. Then one of my colleagues began to racially and sexually harass me in the lab. I asked my supervisor to move me to another lab, but they could not help me. So I found it all too much, and spent a lot of time in the pubs, drinking as this was the only way to numb myself. I used that time to do my work, reading publications, writing, and I was left on my own to get on with it. I used to meet a friend on a weekly basis to play chess there, and the we would see a gig. I liked her company. One week she didn’t turn up and that’s how I met my ex. He said if he could play, and I said fine. Anyway, we got to know each other a bit. He was an artist and he seemed pretty laid-back and interesting. I did tell him that I was not “normal”, I dress as you see me, I only ever own one pair of shoes, and I find it difficult to socialise. I told him that I don’t want to be judged on my looks or what I own. This is usually enough for men to go away. The relationship from my point of view was not about a physical connection, I liked him. When he ended the relationship, yes I was hurt but I accepted it as other relationships did. It was nothing unusual. I never dumped anyone, so I was used to it. I had several propositions already, it wasn’t a big deal. My current on-going hurt and anxiety has little to do with the ending of the relationship. I will stress again I was very respectful and walked away peacefully, despite what he said. The stress was the traumatic experience of negotiating with him and making a decision. I had no choice, if I opted to have the child, I would put my parents in danger, not only from the emotional impact on my parents health, but their physical lives would have been in jeopardy. I was also in danger of bringing political chaos in my tribe which I feared could have resulted in pointless killings. I never told my parents anything, all I cared about was how to protect them. I thought about disappearing abroad, but I could have been tracked down and so I saw no way out. It was “check mate”. After this traumatic experience, my spirits were down and I stopped going to the lab. I had no emotional or physical energy whatsoever for months. I stayed in my room for weeks. After some months, my supervisor a little my situation suggested that I opt for a shorter 1-year MPhil and I reluctantly accepted it. I wrote the dissertation while working full time in an office, as I no longer had any sponsorship.  I partially blame the origin of this problem, meeting my ex. However, there was no way I would tell them why I really left. I never failed in my life before, so I bowed my head in front of my parents and told them that I had been asked to leave the project. I regret that I could not protect my parents from this. I judged myself a failure because of that and it still gnaws me to this day. They attended my graduation and I did get a MPhil out of it.

    5. Around this time, I met my current partner. He supported me in every way he could. We moved to different cities, as he was studying at a different uni and I started a new PhD project in another university. It was great, and I didn’t get abused by my colleagues to that extent i did back in the previous PhD project. My research work was well-received, and my parents were proud of me. My partner was a rock and I looked after him too when he began his PhD (he is nearly a decade younger than me.). I moved to different universities across Europe for my research and I have done rather well considering what I have gone through. During my PhD and postdoc years, I changed my lifestyle, I stopped drinking and smoking, and I transitioned from being a vegetarian to a vegan. I still miss smoking as it helped me cope with anxiety and depression to some extent.

    6. After the death of my father few years ago, I don’t have to meet my siblings. They are upset they don’t see me but I email them from time to time to tell them I am alive and well. I am well-hidden and I am so happy that I can’t get further wounded by my siblings. I wish them well, and always send positive thoughts. I don’t care about inheritance etc, just getting away is a gift in its own right. They are lovely people and are very generous.  They are very caring and are involved in international projects helping others. I am proud that they are doing well. They just don’t like me, that’s ok.

    7. I am not a bad person, after so much suffering, I would be content if I could just be left alone in peace. Not be subjected to racist slurs when i walk down the street with my partner (he is white and I am brown) would be nice. I stayed in my flat for 2 years and I didn’t leave because I feel people are so scary. I only go out now if I absolutely have to. I am so peaceful not seeing people except for my partner. I just want to draw, paint and write. I don’t want to see my ex in my dream. I never saw him as piece of meat, and I respected him and cared about him for the short time I was with him. I don’t really want to remember any of the painful things my siblings and ex-friends have said and done to me.

    8. I know this will probably sound very perplexing, I find drawing and painting help me deal with depression and anxiety.  But sometimes I don’t like the idea of drawing/painting because my ex is an accomplished artist. Then my anxiety gets worse. So I say to myself, should I stop breathing, drinking, thinking and eating, as he probably does.

    Another point might be that he physically resembles one of my abusers, which I find scary that I didn’t notice that back then. I thought I was morphing the memories to fit a model, but I am afraid after looking at a recent photo on the website, there is a resemblance. Maybe he represents the cumulative elements of my abusers (physical or emotional) either because of his physical appearance, body language and or the poison that left his mouth.

    I want closure and get away from this mess.  I do send everyone from the past my best wishes and I just want to be left alone to get on with what I love and spend time with my partner. Please don’t tell me to go and seek professional help, I have been through the agonising counselling sessions etc for decades. I don’t know whether or not they helped.

    I want to help myself, any advice would be helpful. I am keeping a journal in some code to keep a track on the days when the pain is lower and there is less torment. Maybe I can spot a pattern and can avoid some major triggers.

    Thanks once again for your help and time.


    Hello Moondrop

    The anxiety about not wanting to have such dreams could be reinforcing the dream.

    From what I understand about dream interpretation the dreamer is both the object and subject of the dreams contents – As such characters in a dream are created by the dreamer as a symbol or metaphor that the dreamer subconscious is attempting bringing whatever is being symbolized to the surface.  The theory is that if you make that conscious the dreams will stop.

    A place to start is to write down all the associations that come to mind when you think of your experience with your Ex. Its possible that the experience of your Ex represents a unconscious aspect of relationship (in general).  What is it you learned about yourself through the experience? Are you hanging on to anything? Anger, fear, resentment?? Have you forgiven yourself (we often unconsciously blame ourselves just for having taken the chance with someone, even when we haven’t don’t anything wrong)

    Once you have done the work instead of fearing the dream before you go to sleep ask that your dreams show you what it is you need to ‘awake’ to, to learn. If you can re-enter the dream and make it lucid and try to shape the dream to a conclusion to you liking.



    Hi moondrop,

    In your subconscious your ex represents your family and your early abuse. You can’t actively get angry at them (you still wish them well) so it’s easier for you to get hung up on your ex!

    Other people can’t give us closure. Only we can give ourselves closure.

    However, if you want a bit of revenge: You can return letters unopened and thus unread. But not postcards! Send him a postcard with no return address. In it, tell him “Please stop contacting me. Moondrop”. He will get angry. Infuriated. And, if he’s with someone, there is a chance they will read it. He will swear up and down that you stalked him! If he’s even half of a jerk as you describe, they will still wonder if that’s true.

    Since he represents your family on a subconscious level, “Please stop contacting me” will send that energy to THEM. You can even, if you’re brave, email them that.

    Then your nightmares will cease.




    Hello Moondrop,

    I am not surprised with your past history that you have nightmares and wake up filled with fear.  You have taken so much on board by trying to protect your parents from being hurt even more so with the background of in-fighting and killings that may have been part of their childhood which, again, you may have absorbed (translated as fear).  You were bullied and sexually abused and no-one (your parents in particular) protected you from this.

    I am going to suggest that you sit down and write a letter to each of your family members in which you can express all your feelings.  You don’t need to protect anyone in your letters.  You do not need to fear reprisals.  Just tell your brother, for instance, how his deplorable behaviour towards you made you feel.  Tell your parents what happened and why you didn’t tell them earlier .  Pour it all out in as much detail as you can manage.  Just let your thoughts flow even if they seem random or erratic – it doesn’t matter.  Pour your heart out on paper as much and for as long as you want to.

    At the end of this time, hold a ceremony for yourself where you burn all the letters.  Make a conscious statement to yourself that you are releasing the past (letting it go) so that it can no longer hurt you, that you are not to blame for any of it, and you wish to purge yourself.

    You may wish to follow this up by writing to former workplaces where you have been harrassed in any way whatsoever, to your ex, and so on.

    Congratulate yourself on everything you have achieved so far and give yourself all the love you deserve.

    Best wishes




    Hi Moondrop,

    I missed a bit.  Burn all letters that you write in this connection – former workplaces etc.

    Peter has some interesting comments to make which I generally agree with if that’s the way you want to go and Inky makes me laugh.

    Kind regards,




    Dear moondrop:

    You are welcome. I read your recent post first thing this morning and I am keeping in mind what you wrote at the end of your post, what it is that you want: “to be left alone” by “everyone from my past”, to not be told to “go and seek professional help”, because you have been through “the agonizing counselling sessions etc. for decades” and you don’t know if they helped. “I want to help myself, any advice would be helpful”, help yourself means to have less emotional pain, less torment, to feel better.

    First, I will offer you my thoughts (#1-#2), second- my advice to you.

    1. For 15 years, from the time you were four to the time you were 19, you were sexually abused by some of your relatives, including your older brother, and by neighbors. For many years, you were physically and verbally abused by your second oldest sister, who “verbally abused me in front of guests and hit me”. Your parents clearly knew about the latter abuse, but did not stop it (“My parents didn’t stop her”).

    When you asked your parents if you could move out (so to escape the abuse by your sister), “They were upset, and emotionally blackmailed me to stay with them”. And so, you lived with the abuse by your sister who “visited my parents every evening and she times it very well so she had every opportunity to knock me down”, and you lived with your parents not protecting you from said abuse.

    At the age of 21 you suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed with chronic clinical depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After this breakdown, you suffered from abuse by your second eldest sister for two more years, until you left home at 23 (and onward when visiting your parents, for as long as they were alive).

    Please note the following: your parents did not protect you from the abuse and hurt they knew that you suffered, the abuse that was played out in front of them, in their own home. On the other hand, all through your life, your main concern was to protect them from any hurt or harm:

    – Regarding the sexual abuse, you wrote: “I could never tell my parents. I don’t regret shielding my parents from this hurt”.

    – Regarding your breakdown at 21, you wrote: “I asked the psychiatrists not to inform the police as I had to protect my parents at any cost“.

    – Regarding your life after you left home at 23, you protected them from knowing about any and all of your troubles: “I kept my second life a secret from my family… My parents never knew about any of my relationships ever, not even about my long-term partner. I kept my drinking, medicines and smoking, and anything I thought that would hurt them well-hidden. It was essential for me to keep them away from any hurt“.

    – Regarding your pregnancy, about 17 years ago, you wrote: “if I opted to have the child, I would put my parents in danger.. their physical lives would have been in jeopardy… I never told my parents anything, all I cared about was how to protect them“.

    – Regarding withdrawing from your PhD project but received your MPhil, you wrote: “I regret that I could not protect my parents from this. I judged myself a failure because of that and it still gnaws me to this day”.

    You can see with your own eyes, reading your own words, how most important it has been for you, throughout your life, to protect your parents from any hurt. It has been your highest priority, “to protect my parents at any cost”.

    2. When you left home at 23, “I felt great at first, and it was great being able to breathe.. However, things began to catch up, depression got worse… I started getting into relationships without much care… None of my relationships lasted very long… Most nights I had to drink lots of alcohol to be able to sleep… I was unable to stay in one job for more than 3 months”- at first, when we escape oppression and abuse, it feels wonderful, the best feeling in the world.. but then the consequences of the oppression and abuse catch up with us.

    And, to add to the abuse suffered at home, once you lived on your own, more pain was added to your already massively painful experience of home: the racial harassment at work (and elsewhere), being used in a series of short terms relationships with men, the shame and distress involved in behaving in ways you disapproved of and in keeping these behaviors and events,  your “second life”, a secret from your family. The fear of being stuck in an arranged marriage added to your distress.

    And then that man appeared in your life and what happened as a result, the pregnancy, threatened what you cared about most in your life, your highest priority: protecting your parents. It threatened not only your parents’ emotional well being, but their physical safety. This experience has brought your already heavy load of emotional pain and distress to an overflow, and it is this overflowing that is seeping into your dreams.

    Second part, my advice: your parents are dead now. It will not hurt them if you hold them responsible for not protecting you from your childhood abuse and adding to it. It is okay now to hold your second eldest sister responsible to her abuse of you, (at  least, the abused she inflicted on you when she was old enough to know better). It is also okay to hold your brother responsible for his sexual abuse of you, as well as the other family members and neighbors who abused you.

    It is okay now to feel the anger at your abusers and at the parents who did not  only not protect you, but who allowed some of the visible and audible abuse to happen in front of them, in their home. It is okay to hold them responsible for not seeing how depressed and miserable you have been for many years, as a child and ongoing, way before your breakdown and diagnoses at 21 (if they saw your misery, they did not care to ask you about what it is that is happening in your young life).

    You wrote in your original post that while in a wonderful relationship with your partner, you “had random unwanted thoughts about revenge rather intricate ones too”, and “Mostly in my dreams he just utters hate towards me, and I feel as if I can’t run away from him”.

    “many nights per week I wake up trying my best not to scream”- in that scream that is held in there is fear of others’ anger, and your own anger, all mixed in together.

    It is not only fear that need to be expressed and released so that the fear lessens, but it is also your own understandable and naturally occurring anger at your abusers and those who did not protect you, that needs to be acknowledged and released some, so that they do not overflow into your dreams.

    Your art and creative writing are two mediums for such release. Posting right here, to me, is another such medium (I will be glad to read from you and reply anytime you post). They may be other mediums.




    Dear Peggy, Peter, Inky and Anita,

    Thank you so much for your suggestions and for your insight. It will take me a few days to reflect on your feedback and advice. But I assure you that your input has already helped me view my issue from a different perspective.

    My initial thoughts are that my ex in my nightmares is not the person but a representation of past abuse and uneasiness. So thank you all for pointing that out, and this has already helped immensely. So I am going to take a few days to go through your valuable suggestions and work out a plan. Last night, I didn’t see him in my dream, and I woke up less stressed.

    At this point, I do want to say something about my parents which is very important. My father was the first person in our/his tribe to opt for higher education and opposed outdated ideas. He was also in favour of educating his daughters (including me) despite taunts and opposition. This may not seem to be a great deal, but it really was a courageous step taken by my father, he chose to give up an aristocratic life to pursue education and to stand up to the atrocities. I owe everything to my parents. Yes, like everyone’s else parents they gave me life. But they also saved my life when I was 8 years old. I was burning and trapped, and people were running away from me. They ran in and saved my life. My mother was severely asthmatic, and seeing her run like that to save me, was no less than a miracle. When I was in the hospital following the breakdown, they didn’t leave my side. I asked them sit outside, when I consulted the psychiatrists. Of course, they asked me what’s wrong and why I was hurting. I chose to protect them, always and even now. They may have left this physical world, but they are not gone. I have no anger towards them, and I hate myself if I felt moments of anger towards them. I have immense love for them. If there is a judeo-christian-islamic afterlife, I have asked God/creator to forgive them and love them. I have offered any good deeds I have done to pass on to my parents so that they can be happy together in heaven. I only feel immense love for them. I will continue to protect them in my heart and mind to the end. I don’t even want them to feel hurt in the other dimension, in case they are hearing or watching me.

    This will sound outrageous, if there was a soul attached to the aborted fetus, then I worry that they may have told my parents’ souls. There is nothing I can do from here. I have absolutely no idea what’s in store after death, so in case there is an afterlife or some other dimension, I really don’t want my parents to feel any hurt or sadness whether it’s through a letter or some other way. I hope they are not reading this post either.

    I have no plans to hurt my ex. What I mentioned in my post related to intrusive thoughts I had over 13 years ago. As I said, I always told my psychologists and medics and I was scared to even have those thoughts let alone to act upon them. I can never think about hurting any person, any animal, any insect and even plants if I can help it. I even say sorry to the door if I bash into it. I hope that my ex has changed and that he is happy. I would not contact him to mess anyone’s life up. I don’t even want to be in the same country as him. I regularly check that we are in different locations, to reduce the probability of even seeing his face. The person he is now, is none of my concern, I sincerely want to release my ex (not the present person, as I don’t know him) who represents tough experiences I gathered through various family members (excluding my parents), other ex-boyfriends, ex-friends, ex-colleagues, etc.

    I hope you can respect my wish to not write or say anything negative about my parents. It may seem like an over-reaction to some, but I will protect them at any cost, even if it means lengthy torment or hell. I will keep them in my heart and mind with great respect and love (harbour no anger, no resentment).

    Thank you once again for all for your precious advice, and I will reflect on the suggestions for a few days.



    Dear moondrop:

    You are welcome. I read your request and I will respect your wish “to not write or say anything negative about (your) parents”.

    I hope you will be comfortable to post again, after reflection, and am looking forward to read from you.



    Dear Moondrop,

    I’m almost lost for words.  There has been a shift in your perspective – this is major.  I’m very hopeful that your nightmares will soon become a thing of the past.

    Forgive yourself where necessary for choices you have made in the past and for any angry thoughts you may have had towards your parents.  Hate is too strong a word!  You cannot change the past but you can choose to see it from a different view point.

    I have a very strong belief in the afterlife and there is nothing that you can say to me that would sound outrageous.  Ask for forgiveness – souls aren’t usually attached at such an early stage of pregnancy.

    I’m in awe of you.

    Kind regards


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