Issue 85 –
Vulnerability: Part 5
The Neglected Vulnerable Child
Drs Hal & Sidra Stone
We have collected many dreams that poignantly illustrate the neglect of the vulnerable child. They were dreamt by people who have come to our workshops and had just become aware of this part of themselves. The unconscious then picked up the process and showed them quite clearly how they had disowned their vulnerability.
Many of these dreams have a similar theme. The dreamers go off to work, or to play, or to be with others, and suddenly remember that they have forgotten the child or children who were left in their care. In each case, the dreamer experiences a feeling of panic and a rush to reclaim the child, with the fervent hope that it had not died or suffered permanent damage.
The child is usually in a sad shape – hungry, cold, neglected, dirty, frightened, or ill. In one dream, the child had been transformed into a little animal. Happily enough, the child is usually not dead and, in most instances, there is hope for its eventual recovery.
Marie’s dream is typical of this category:
I am in a hotel room, up on a high floor. It is warm and comfortable and luxurious. I hear a small sound and look out onto a very narrow balcony. There is a little girl who has been outside on this balcony for a long, long time. It is cold and raining outside, and she is freezing. I feel terrible because I know I was responsible for her and I’d forgotten about her.
Marie is a sophisticated, wealthy young woman who enjoys the good life. However, she has been cut off from her vulnerability since early childhood, because vulnerability is simply not a clever or elegant attribute and it was definitely discouraged in her social milieu.
So she learned to live her life “high up” and sophisticated, and her inner child was left to freeze outside on the balcony.
Sometimes our vulnerable selves are relegated to a secondary status because they are not as exciting as our primary selves. They are overlooked at first, and eventually, as they continue to be pushed aside by our primary selves, they become disowned. After she was introduced to the concept of vulnerability in a lecture, Mandy had the following dream:
All my parts (selves) are in a big room, talking and having a great time. They are all trying to get my attention; they are exciting and lots of fun. I love being with them. In the far corner, there is a small child who calls to me and says “Please don’t forget me.”
This dream gives a clear picture of how the primary selves can easily distract us from noticing our more vulnerable, sensitive selves. Here, after listening to a discussion of vulnerability, Mandy suddenly notices her own vulnerable child, which has been sitting unnoticed in the corner until now.