Dreams and trauma

This past Thursday I had the type of dream I hadn’t had in years. I was running errands with the family and as I was lingering in a public, I became aware that I had lost my passport. It was an ICE agent that approached me to tell me I had dropped it and returned it to me. In the dream, I was stunned to be interacting with an U.S. immigration officer; honestly I have a disliking to them for obvious reasons. But soon I realized the agent wasn’t there to be a kind Samaritan. She told me I had a removal order and 30 days to leave. The weird thing is that in my dream I knew I was in Mexico, but somehow, it seemed the border boundaries had crossed me once again and that I found myself in the predicament I faced in my waking life over a decade ago. I had to leave and I was unsure where I was headed. Why was I reliving this again in my subconscious? Feeling displacement in such a vivid manner made me realize one innate ability I have – not only in my dreams but in real life – and that is my resilience and ability to turn the switch on the problem-solving mode in times of crisis. These are part of my survival toolbox.

In my dream, I remember telling myself that I was going to figure this out. I had already survived a deportation and being thrown in the middle of nowhere the same day I was appended (I was recalling a real life event). So having 30 days to plan this out was enough time. Perhaps I could relocate to my childhood neighborhood which was not far away. I told my parents that I would be OK there. I had time to say good-bye to family members and friends, time to reassure them that I would find a way to pick myself up, continue with my life even when deep inside I knew there was nothing waiting for me there.

As I was getting things ready for my departure, I was trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. How is it that an ICE agent had found me here? I asked myself that question as I was heading to the immigration office to file some paperwork to proceed with my removal process. I learned that my passport had not been lost. That the immigration agent that gave it back to me had targeted me to initiate the removal. She is the one that followed me and in a moment of distraction, reached into my purse to take away my passport (I guess my subconscious was reminding me of of how sneaky they are in real life). That is all the agent needed to gather my personal details and initiate a removal process. I found this deceitful part of the process maddening. I began to question the legality of it all, why me?, why was I being kicked out once again even when I was in territory where ICE had no jurisdiction? why….

And that is all I can remember before waking up.

Most dreams I forget by the time I wake up, and the majority as I go about my daily routine. But not this one. It gave me this weird feeling all day to the point where I had to sit down and write about it. It seemed like that type of dream that is trying to tell me something. Is it that I still I have unresolved issues related to my deportation that I should look into? Or is it trying to tell me that something is going to pull me away from the place I currently reside. It sort of feels like the latter because this dream felt like premonition. I had these types of dreams while in the U.S. I dreamt about my deportation many years before it happened. I saw places similar to those I ended up living in Mexico after I was forced out of the U.S. Then again, post-deportation, I’ve have recurrent dreams about being back in the U.S., at times smuggled back, other times I entered legally, going through airports and immigration security points and given authorization to stay for one day, leaving feeling rushed to see all the people and places I wanted to visit and reconnect. That hasn’t happened in real life. I really don’t know what to think of this particular dream, just that I had it a day before Biden’s immigration plan was unveiled, which of course, is triggering for me. Another proposal that has come too late and will never address the deported.

Nonetheless, the one thing I a sure of is that in my 11 years after deportation, I still feel hunted by U.S. immigration policies. The effect of deportation is still present. It has taken me a while to free myself from the chains of the undocumented life and the deportation trauma I have carried to feel like I have a fighting chance to pursue my aspirations and goals I would like to achieve to feel fulfilled and self-realized (still, a work in progress). Maybe the dream is a reminder that there is a deeper fear still haunting me; that of seeing your life fall apart in an instant. Given state of the world, it’s hard to rule out that possibility. Nothing is guaranteed, not your health, your safety, nor your security, even when citizenship is not an issue. Reflecting on this dream leaves me a piece of relief that I didn’t notice initially, and that is knowing that all I have is the right now and to continue to learn to trust myself. I already have a track-record of resilience which has allowed me to survive all the hardships that have come my way, particularly those related to my migrant experience. Maybe this is what I need to hold-on to and embrace along with my fears.

2 thoughts on “Dreams and trauma

  1. Thanks for this very powerful post. It goes beyond the anger I’ve read in others over the years to a real exploration of how your experience has shaped your inner life.

    1. Thank you for reading the blog and commenting. I certainly have many angry posts in this blog, but as I work through grief and anger, it also allows me to explore other aspects of my life which are not only based on those emotions. I hope to be able to transmit that as I am starting to work on an autobiography.

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