First Snow, Waterboro Maine – Photo by Dan Erickson

When I scheduled the my last short essay, Thinking Out Loud, about doing more story-telling-based writing on this site, I didn’t think it would start so soon. Then I had a dream.

I dream regularly and a lot of my dreams are strange, often dark. This particular dream stems back to my childhood, being a victim of an extremist cult.

I’m not sure dreams have any hidden meanings or tell us future events. However, I do believe that dreams communicate our own thoughts and feelings back to us. If we pay attention to our dreams we can learn about our own joys and fears. Dreams, a lot like writing itself, are therapeutical.

Here’s the dream I had just a couple of nights ago.

I was with a group of people outside a house in the woods. Neither the people nor the place was recognizable to me. It was dark and in a mountainous region. I believe it represents my past, the cult, somewhere in Snohomish County in Washington State.

The people were faceless. It’s not that they literally had no faces. They just weren’t physically there. I could acutely sense their presence but I could not tell you any details about what they looked like. It’s almost as if they were ghosts. But they were going to hurt me, maybe even kill me, and I knew I had to escape.

In a moment when no one was looking I ran into the woods. I continued to run and hike through the woods for miles. I came to a small cabin in an isolated town. I was safe for a  moment but they soon found me. They took me back to where everything started.

I ran a second time. But this time I hid in a secret compartment underneath the house where this was all happening. They never found me. The dream ended.

What does it mean? I think it’s simple. As a kid I always felt trapped. I always wanted to escape my reality of being a child in a cult against my will. So in the dream I ran. But as with others who had tried to escape, the leader of the cult sent out his goons and they found me.

So the second time I ran, I hid right beneath their feet. They never found me. But the question remains: did I ever find myself? Perhaps, I’m still trapped. Deep inside of myself there is still a scared little boy who is a prisoner and a slave in a cult. So the dream and this essay are both tools in dealing with that trauma.

I’ve just finished a new draft of my cult story. I’ll be working on it more in the near future. I’ll be shopping for a publisher. I’m considering ┬ádoing a limited podcast series. For now, you can read my story about growing up in a cult in the book A Train Called Forgiveness. It’s available at Amazon. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.