Giving a deer story

I’m giving this post as a belated birthday gift to my blogging soul-sister, Bethany.  I hope this condensed, off the cuff version of my relationship with deer is successful. I’m sure it will be long, so I won’t hold it against everyone else for not reading it…

When I was a kid, my parents had a small painting of a deer in their bedroom. It was on the wall, just after you walked in the room. I never paid too much attention to it, but knew it was there. Their room was a place of comfort to me…a place I would sneak into at night to feel loved, snuggled against my mom, being quiet so I wouldn’t wake Dad.

One night, I had a dream. I’m not sure how old I was, but it had to be younger than nine, because nine is the age I was when my mom moved away, and I know she was living with me when I had it. Anyway, it was one of those dreams where you’re dreaming you’re in your own house and everything is the same as real life, so you aren’t sure it’s a dream, you know? So, in this dream, I’m sleeping in my parent’s bed. I wake up and I’m alone in the bed. I sit up, and see the deer from the painting is alive and in the room. I walk over to it and it bites me. There was no pain…I can’t say I was even aware of the bite as it happened. However, I was completely aware that the bite was going to kill me. I sat alone in the room, looking at the deer as it looked at me. We were both calm, and we both knew I was dying. I wasn’t scared, which looking back seems strange, for a little kid. I knew I was dying because I could feel my body being filled up with some sort of heavy sensation and I could taste it. I won’t try to describe it with words, but I can still remember that taste, and the sensation, to this day…and I’m 45 years old now. That dream has stuck with me this whole time.

Fast forward through life: My parents split and my mom moves half way across the country when I’m 9. My dad remarries when I’m 12 and I endure some pretty decent trauma…emotional neglect, sexual/emotional/physical abuse. I survive and go about what I think is my normal life…except there’s no such thing as a normal life after going through those kinds of things. I was just so good at stuffing things down and pretending I was normal, even I didn’t realize I was hiding anything.

So, I hit the age of 44 and it all bubbles to the surface. Like a volcano. A volcano that’s been simmering mostly unnoticed for almost 35 years. I started peeling off layers and it got real ugly around here. I was in a state of depression, to say the least. I spent so much time in therapy, I think I funded my therapist’s new car. Long story short, we kind of figured out that the way out of that dark hole was for me to find a way to forgive my inner child. The nine-year old me was pretty easy to forgive. She was just an innocent little bystander. It was the thirteen year old me that I was having a hard time forgiving. I hated her. The things that girl did…ugh. She was a gross, dirty loser who did bad, bad things. Of course, we all know children who suffer sexual abuse are not doing bad things. But when you grow up as one of those kids, you really do think that way. Even at 44 years old. It’s crazy, but that’s how the brain works. So, I sat under that black cloud for months, feeling hopeless. I just could not shake that heavy weight of guilt and shame, no matter how hard I tried. I intellectually understood it, but getting your soul to match up to your brain is not as easy as you think.

My therapist told me talking about it is how I would heal. I really could not imagine telling anyone other than her. What would people think of me? I knew if they knew, they would see I wasn’t the person I had been pretending to be, all of these years. They would know I was a fraud. But, as much as I didn’t want them to know, I knew I was going to tell. I finally mustered up the strength to tell one of my closest friends. I drove to her house one morning, last February. I was sweating as I neared her road and almost chickened out and turned around. As I approached her driveway, I thought I was imagining things…four deer walked out of her back yard and slowly crossed in front of my car. I couldn’t believe it. I’d seen deer before, maybe one a year…always late at night. I’d never seen one in the daytime before, and certainly not four of them, casually strolling in front of my car. They all looked my way as they passed.

I went in my friend’s house and spent the next few hours nervously pouring the contents of my damaged soul out on her counter. I shook and cried and felt things so uncomfortable, I still can’t believe I did it. I couldn’t look her in the eye. When I was done, I waited for her to judge me. Of course, she didn’t. She was great, like friends are. I ended up telling that story the same emotional way, over and over again, to different friends, until it gradually became less and less painful to tell. Just like my therapist told me would happen.

So, I go home that day and look up the spiritual meaning of the deer. Of course, there’s many opinions out there, and it all depends on what you believe in, but the first one I looked at was the ringer: “If a deer visits you, it symbolizes the innocence of your inner child”. Whoa! I felt something stir inside me, like when you are watching a scary movie and you get a suspenseful glimpse of some sort of clue. What are the chances that FOUR FREAKING DEER would happen to walk in front of me at ten in the morning, symbolizing the innocence of my inner child, as I’m about to tell the story of losing my childhood innocence? Meaningful? Yes. Enough to shake my depression? No.

I told my therapist about the deer and she gave me a book on spirit animals. I read that the deer attacking me in my dream was a test. It makes sense. I was about to go through some serious shit, and my spirit guide wanted to make sure I was going to survive. Nothing like a deer bite to toughen a kid up.

So, another few weeks of living under the dark cloud go by. I’m still fascinated by the encounter with the deer, but it’s not making me feel any better. At this point, the dark cloud has become my new normal. I remember thinking, “So, this is how people with depression live”…just matter of fact-like, as this was how things were going to be from now on. I was lying on the couch one afternoon, staring mindlessly at the television. My husband and youngest son came home. It was a few days shy of my son’s birthday. I sat up, because even though I was going through hell, I couldn’t let my kids see it. It was a full-time job acting normal for them, but I pulled it off.  Anyway, they come in the door and I hear my husband say, “Did you tell Mom about what you saw this morning?” I sat up and looked at my son. His face was glowing with excitement. “I was getting ready for school this morning, and as I was looking in the mirror, I saw a deer in the reflection! It was standing in our back yard, right outside the window!” My eyes opened, real wide. Like I had been in a dream, and suddenly woke up. “You saw a deer?!”I’m sitting there, incredulously staring at my almost thirteen year old son, as he excitedly tells me about seeing a deer… an animal I’d been researching and relating to my life for weeks. An animal neither of us hardly ever see. And he’s really excited about it.  He’s so young and innocent. The deer is young and innocent. My son…the deer…it clicks. He’s turning thirteen. I was thirteen when I was abused. If someone molested him right now, would he be dirty and gross and full of shame? No! He’s just a kid. It wouldn’t be his fault at all. Oh my God, I get it…it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t my fault. 

And just like that, the dark cloud lifted…


The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Apr. 8/17


47 thoughts on “Giving a deer story”

  1. Omg the end made me just cry cry cry!!!!!!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing that story. That whole deer story. It meant so much to me!!! And sharing with your friend and seeing the deer and how when you were little… I have some reflecting to do now!!!! My first deer I was just a little girl in the woods right before the abuse happened. Wow!
    Hey you don’t have a reblog button. I was gonna share this.

  2. What a wonderful, touching post. Dealing with the pain of abuse and depression is a tough, tough, thing that has nothing to do with age. I am glad you’ve been uplifted. Your story is beautiful.

    1. Thank you. It’s quite freeing to be able to shed some of that trauma. I now have some days where I forget that I even went through it. Of course, those days are balanced out by the other days where I can’t get it out of my head. Still, anything is better than where I was…

  3. This is SO deeply powerful. Its hard to believe that this kind of pain wasn’t fated in some way for you to learn so many lessons with those four deer showing up at such a pivotal point. I remember a Marion Woodman book on healing from childhood trauma I read a while back in which one of her clients was going through healing and this deer appeared in her dreams with the words in her dream “you are very dear to me” that sustained her and helped her birth self love from then on. She would recall that image. I was so moved by this post. I really would love to reblog it. <3

    1. I firmly believe everything I’ve gone through was fated for me. It’s given me a gift of understanding and compassion and I see it transferring through my nursing work and the interactions I have with my family and friends. Nothing is superficial anymore.

      As far as the reblogging goes, I think I don’t have a button because I’m on a self-hosted site. You either need to share it directly from your reader feed (I think where you see the snippet of my post in your feed…at the bottom there should be a share button) or if that doesn’t work, under your “tools” section, you can download “press this” and add it to your toolbar and then you can press anything you come across. If that doesn’t work, I just have no idea! I’ve seen people post links to my posts inside their own posts, but that’s WAY beyond my capabilities!

    2. Hey Deborah, I just installed a plugin for wordpress sharing. Will you look at this post and see if the tool bar pops up before it? It should have a wordpress button on there. Fingers crossed!!

  4. Beautiful story and I KNOW that you are being sent the deer to heal. The same thing happens to me, but with owls. My spirit guide has sent me owls in the most unlikely places and times. I’ve been surrounded by owls while walking, trying to heal from a hurtful relationship, and I know it was God tapping me on the shoulder, saying “I’m here and I love you.” Please know that nothing could ever change your worth in the slightest. If anything, you are all the more precious for being the lost lamb. Nothing will stop God (or whatever name you choose) from finding you, and letting you know that you could never be less than perfect in his eyes. ; )

    1. I have also been sent owls, but in dreams. Each time, I try to take a picture of them, but they don’t want me to and they start pecking at me.

      In real life, right when all of this stuff started happening, I started to get visits from Hawks multiple times a week. And not just flying overhead… Swooping down directly in front of my car to the point where I almost hit them. Definitely significant and sent to me for a reason. Truly amazing. I know all the animals are messages from God.
      Thanks so much for the comforting reply?

      1. It’s funny, but I was just reading a book called “Angels in my Hair” about the life of an Irish mystic. She can see angels, and has since she was a child. She says that there is an angel that she calls the bird angel that sends birds all around her when she’s in need of comfort.
        You must be well-connected in the angel world. ?

        1. Just over the past year have I begun to truly think about angels. I’ve been taught to give them permission to help me, so that’s exactly what I do…especially when I’m meditating. Since this whole process started (just over a year ago), I’ve become so in tune with nature, it’s crazy. I even feel connected to the trees. I don’t always share that, because most people will look at me like I’m crazy…but it feels real, so I’m happy with it

  5. What a powerful, healing story! So rich! 13 is such a hard age even without trauma. One of the roles children take on in dysfunctional families is the scapegoat who often acts out as a cry for help. You passed the test – you survived. Now you are healing and your innocent child is back with blessings. I’m so happy for you!

  6. What a remarkably powerful post. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

    I’ve also heard the Native Americans believe deer represent gentleness and a soul trying to heal. You sound like you’re doing the work. Blessings.

    1. And now that i’ve thought about it for a few minutes, I am Native American. I wonder… Were these two visits by the deer gifts for me to heal? I think maybe so

  7. It is good you have been able to talk about your abuse. I wonder if it would have helped to talk with others or read about others who survived abuse. It is wrong that children should feel guilty or bad about being abused. It is sad how kids take responsibility for stuff they were in no way responsible for.

    1. I don’t think it would have helped back then. I didn’t realize I was abused…I just thought that was how life was, and blamed myself. I honestly never knew until last year, when I was in therapy to try and fix my marriage. I talked about my childhood and it all came pouring out and that’s when I realized it didn’t go down the way I had thought it went down. Crazy stuff!

      1. I was thinking of when you were older, it could have helped if you came across a story about someone else having a similar experience. So you would feel less alone.You had it all buried inside. I can see how that was your defense mechanism. Not crazy. Really good that you are healing now.

        1. Oh, right. It definitely has helped so much to find that I’m not as weird as I thought I was. Not that I would ever wish this on anyone, but it’s nice to have people like me to talk to

  8. You might not recognize it, so I’ll tell you that you are more intuitive than most people I know. Very specifically, when you made the connection to your son seeing the deer, it holding special meaning for you, your son turning 13 and you were 13 when you were abused, and then you looked at your life through the eyes of a 13 year old, giving you the ability to let yourself off the hook, knowing deep in your heart that it wasn’t your fault – all of those connections are not ones that most people are able to see and connect the way you did. THAT is intuitive ability. Seeing things and making connections.

    Telling your friend about something you felt such deep shame around, shaking and crying and knowing you weren’t being judged, is a phenomenal example of healing. Between your making intuitive connections, and being brave, sharing your story the way you did in a safe place, you, my dear, are doing incredible healing work. Keep doing it!!

    1. It sure didn’t seem intuitive…it seemed so obvious, like “how could I NOT see this sign??!!” It really felt like the universe had a plan and finally let me in on it, you know? I kept using the word “clarity” to describe my feelings about this sudden connection to nature. Still kind of amazes me…

  9. What a beautiful picture! When I left my abusive husband 7 years ago, I had no idea that God had a ‘name’ for me! When I finally stopped to listen to Him, he named me. Since then I have had a very special relationship with little birds! He named me ‘His little bird’ and it has changed my heart, my picture of myself and my life!! I am so glad that He used the deer to bring you healing as well! God is SO GOOD!

    1. Little bird…I love it! He has sent me birds, too… more so than the deer. Mainly hawks, but that’s a story for another day.

      I’ve left my husband during this process, too. You can’t heal only part of your soul, you know?

      1. I’ve been blessed to be able to present at a womens retreat this summer. Helping women hear from God through the hard places including His special name for them 😀 I am SO EXCITED!!

    2. I thought of you yesterday. I pulled into the driveway of a patient and just as I stopped the car, a robin flew over and landed on my side mirror, about 2 feet from my face! It was the first day of the year with my windows down. This has never in my life ever happened before!

  10. Oh wow. Powerful story. Thanks for sharing. God is so good to give us messages and bring healing to the wounded. You were not at fault. You were innocent. The scripture that came to me is Psalm 42:1, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.”
    I felt that God sent you a message through this deer to follow Him and He will bring you to healing waters… His Rivers of Living Water. God bless you and your family!

  11. Wow. What an amazing story. I honestly believe we are sent signs to help us – yours was nothing short of a miracle. Thank you so much for sharing this, Jami. Sincerely.

  12. love the story.

    The built-in way for reblogging on WordPress hosted sites is to go to the dashboard, then choose settings, then sharing (the quick route to this page is to add “/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=sharing” to the end of your web address. There should be an option near the bottom of that page to show/not show the reblog button. Not sure if that will give you anything better than what you’ve done, but maybe handy for the future?

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