How to Remove a Tick

I used to dream a lot, especially when I was a kid. I had exceptionally vivid dreams – not visually, but emotionally vivid. Over the past few years, I’d say I’ve dreamt (or at least been aware of having dreamt) only a handful of times. And those few dreams I did have were very “eh” and faded quickly. Last night, though, I had one of those dreams where you wake up swearing that they’re real. I woke up out of this dream at around 4 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep for nearly two hours because I was so troubled by it.

I dreamt that I found a tick on the crown of my head. Now, I’m a country girl and so spent the majority of my youth traipsing through the woods and dealing with animals. Ticks are not a big deal for me. When you come in from the woods, you check your hair & skin to make sure you haven’t picked one up and if you do find one, you take it off, light a match, blow it out & put the hot match on the tick to kill it and then flush it down the toilet. At least that’s what we did in my home. The most important thing, though, was to make sure that if it was already dug in that you got the head out as well or it would… something, something… I don’t remember exactly, but it was really bad.

The tick in my dream was no ordinary tick, though. It was huge, and dug in, and had obviously been there for quite a while. I was afraid that the tick removal methods I was familiar with would wouldn’t be sufficient to properly remove this thing, so I needed to get some help to make sure. I was disgusted and horrified to realize that this awful thing had to have been there for years. How had I never noticed it before and how was I going to be able to get it out? I woke up feeling all over the back of my head to try to find the dream tick again, but of course it wasn’t really there. I’ve even been casually paranoid off and on all day, double checking just to make sure.

My 4 a.m. self was not having any more sleep until the matter was resolved. I lay there somewhere between wake and sleep panicking at all layers of my consciousness. I was grabbing for my phone to look up how best to get this thing out of me before I finally pulled myself into complete awareness that it had only been a dream. Even though I knew it wasn’t real, I couldn’t shake that horrified feeling and kept reaching back to locate the tick for about an hour, trying to sleep before I realized I had to try my hand at analyzing the dream to reveal its meaning or else I was just going to remain haunted by it.

I haven’t been actively working steps for a while now – a fact that should come as a complete surprise to absolutely no one. I’ve got at least a dozen reasons excuses for why I haven’t been near as active in my program as I should be, but I’m glad at this point that I haven’t because it has allowed me to hit a different bottom completely. I went to my first Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) meeting February 1, 2015, despite the fact that there was absolutely no alcoholism in my family growing up (save for an uncle or two who likely were alcoholic, but I very rarely saw them). Just like when I first came to AA, I was very gung ho for a couple of months, but then kind of fizzled out before recognizing just how badly I needed to work the program. In AA, that translated to getting myself a sponsor & really working steps around 10 months sober. In ACA, well, last night at the meeting, I stayed after and talked to someone who is also very ready to work steps and has agreed to meet up and work together.

This past, most horrible year was really starting to come to a head in early December and I decided that I had to stop feeling guilty for missing AA meetings so I could go to ACA meetings. It just led to me not going to either one so I could sit at home and beat myself up. Then the holidays came and I hit what I recognize to be my bottom in ACA. It had absolutely nothing to do with my family of origin. Things with them were actually quite pleasant this year. There were other events that happened, though, which echoed experiences from my perceived dysfunctional childhood. Just like when I first read the “laundry list,” I recognized myself – my thoughts and behaviors – as those featured in ACA literature. And I was just sick. I said, “I can’t just be partway in this thing. I have to really, actually do the deal, just like I did when I first committed to AA.”

And it all clicked. Me finding that huge, sucking parasite, embedding itself in my head and leeching off me was just me committing to ACA and finding the emotional and spiritual parasites that have kept me from truly living. I’m not saying that this is the thing that is going to work for me, but it is the thing I need most right now. It’s going to be disgusting and horrifying to discover the character defects that await me, and it’s going to be difficult to pry them out because they’ve been sucking me dry for years and years now. But at least I know of their existence and I can begin to work them loose.

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