Resilience and Dreams and other Resources for Replacement Children

We three, the co-founders of replacementchildrenforum.com all became conscious of being replacement children at one point or another, some with suffering early on, some with suffering in our relationships later on.

Dreams
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

One evening before a long over-night flight, a book fell into my hands as I was looking for a good read, in a big bookstore: it was “A little course on dreams” by Jungian Analyst Robert Bosnak. That book opened my eyes for what dreams can tell us at night and how important it is to listen to those images from our soul. As I began listening to my soul I could admit how much I was missing my brother and that I was calling out for the love of my mother. Growing up with a grieving mother I must have felt very lonely, and I probably took on some of her feelings of grief and her guilt. 

One dream returned over many years; recurring dreams we have to pay extra attention to because our unconscious seems to insist that we become conscious, (from my book, Individuation for Adult Replacement Children, Was of Coming into Being):

There was a corpse hidden in the cellar, behind a radiator, in a chimney or buried in the woods, and that I was somehow going to be apprehended for having caused that person’s disappearance. I had no idea why I had such dreams, until one day, on a train home it dawned on me that these were linked to my having replaced my baby brother. It took still years of dreams and much study before I realized that I felt guilty for a death I did dreams and much study before I realized that I felt guilty for a death I did not cause. Mother was fourteen weeks pregnant with me when Wolfgang passed away.

When I started to wake up to understand the consequences of the replacement child condition, I was maybe 32 years old. Since then, it has been a long journey, and my process of becoming conscious is still continuing. Towards my mid-life, my dreams were calling me to study analytical psychology; this was the right way for me to discover myself and reconnect with my true self.

One of my biggest resources was the life force per se which despite all difficulties was like a  fountain of resilience for me. My life force has been strong; several times in my childhood my life was at risk, from a suspected case of diphtheria when I was four years old, to blood poisonings in my teens and later some dicey situations while driving.

I wanted to live. I am grateful to live. 

I grew ever more conscious of that and of the fact, that I discovered within my unconscious a source which I grew slowly to understand; the book by Bosnak (see above) taught me to listen to my dreams and invited me to learn to make sense of what my unconscious communicated to me.

And there was and is the desire to love, to be loved and give love, to help and be helped.  That, too, was a major, constant resource for me.

But there was some other, maybe even more surprising resource: it was the willingness to see the abyss, the cliff of which one could drop, the non-existence that could threaten to overwhelm… to actually feel the abandonment, the disappointment, the utter alone-ness, and to accept it, that is to say to assume the consequences of my replacement child condition, to work it through and to share with others what I have found on my journey to individuation.

Most important was to find despite the loss and the suffering, the Self, within myself and to believe in it. To discover more of me that could be me. And to reconnect with what is unique and irreplaceable – my soul. 

As I wrote in my book:

Recently I dreamt that a young man was calling me from the ground floor; unlike in earlier unconscious times, I feel no longer haunted by my brother’s death. Now, I can honor the connection between my baby brother and me. If this dream image were to be interpreted as my missing brother’s spirit calling me, I feel grateful today rather than frightened, as I rest more secure in my own being. Because I am now more conscious, I can acknowledge his brief existence and the light and shadow it cast on my existence – and live my own life.

Kristina Schellinski, Co-Founder replacementchildforum.com and Author Individuation for Adult Replacement Children, Ways of Coming into Being

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