I can’t comment on physical healing, but the emotional side was - and still is - my primary reason for practicing LD.
Fair warning: WALL OF TEXT
Short Version: I grew up in a rough environment and learned to only trust dream characters and not real people. Then I learned a bunch of really personal [feces] from them and pulled my head out of my [rear end].
For most of my life, I’ve struggled with a single issue that seems to have seeded all others. It defined my childhood and I’ve carried it with me as an adult through everything I’ve seen and done. It fed into all kinds of little things that blossomed out to create big obvious problems that concealed the little root they grew out of.
Fundamentally, I don’t trust anyone. This attitude was taught by the people who raised me and reinforced by my environment. My parents had both suffered their own serious traumas - one was a war veteran who never felt safe enough to share his full story even with me, and one was abandoned as a teenager two and a half thousand miles from home with nothing but the clothes on her back. They both found themselves in a place full of other people with their own carefully guarded stories. A place where asking personal questions was anything but a friendly gesture. Secrecy was safety - for you and those close to you.
I was good at making friends because I knew how to put on a face and give people what they wanted. I learned that when people liked me they would trust me. I could fool them. Half-truths and vague details would satisfy them. I knew I had to learn this, because if they weren’t satisfied they would keep asking questions. I’d be found out. My secrets wouldn’t be safe. I wouldn’t be safe.
Some of the earliest dreams I remember from back when I was still in preschool involved a consistent dream location and two recurring characters. Gerio - a boy genius who could create anything mechanical out of spare junk, and Iris - a girl with peak athletic strength who could talk to any animal. They were the first people besides my parents who I felt like I could trust. In all of my dreams with them, there was the feeling that we had known each other our whole lives. We didn’t need to ask personal questions about each other because we already knew the answers. Gerio was a runaway who hated adults and made up his own rules as he pleased. Iris was raised by animals and wanted to explore every corner of the world - and happened to be deathly afraid of peacocks.
These two figures set a precedent - Even if I can’t trust people in the real world, some people here in my dreams know me. Masks and lies don’t work on them, but that’s okay because my secrets are safe with them. I’m safe with them. They’re capital-T Trustworthy.
My parents divorced when I was five. The circumstances surrounding their split led me to take sides. I still loved them both, and I never hated either, but only one of them was Trustworthy.
Then I started keeping a dream journal. Both of my parents kept one, and both of them encouraged me to do the same. One of my earliest recorded lucid dreams was from age eleven, and it turned my early comfort with dream characters into something much more significant.
In this dream, people and animals were being attacked by a ferret in the woods. I went down to investigate, and fought her until it was clear I wouldn’t be easy prey. Then we talked, and it turns out I could have been her. She was waiting for the one person she trusted, and was surviving by eating everything else that came near her. Instead of tucking her secrets away and playing roles to slide by under the radar like me, she lashed out. If you weren’t Trustworthy, you were expendable. You were prey.
She cried in my arms. I was the second person she deemed Trustworthy. I was glad I could be there for her, but it also made me jealous. She found another person she could be open with, while I was only losing them. After an encounter with the person she was waiting for, the dream took us to my apartment. The two of us were just hanging out together, being friends.
That context made me realize I had it backwards. She was another person I could trust. She physically hurt me, (I have always felt pain in dreams) tried to kill me even…but my secrets were safe with her. All dream characters are safe. The ones who are scary or upsetting doubly so. Maridadi the ferret had a secret and nobody to share it with. I became someone she could trust and that trust was reciprocal. I liked the sound of that.
My Trustworthy parent died a few months later. My family was afraid that the state my parent was in would disturb and frighten me, and wouldn’t allow me to visit one last time. That person was the only human being who knew everything about me. After that, the only ones left were the people in my dreams. It stayed that way for a very long time.
I learned about Carl Jung around that time. His concept of the Shadow was validation that what I had learned from Maridadi could be done. I started to look for dream characters who challenged me - physically AND emotionally.
Maridadi, Cobalt, the Mundane Sage and his Cardinal Beasts, Herald, the Militant Altruist, Lazuli, the Reapers, Neochitin, the Authority Figure, Something I Forgot…all of these and more came out of that search and the more I learned about them the more I learned about me. I started talking to people in waking life the same way I talked to dream characters. I’d put away the masks for a little while and just be. And people still responded positively. I didn’t have to trick them to stay safe. I could give things away and they wouldn’t pounce.
It was from dream characters that I learned about me. It’s thanks to them that I finally understood what that idea of capital-T “Trust” meant and why offering it only to them was destructive. I still have a habit of playing the cards close to my chest, and I don’t think that will ever change, but at least now I can talk to people like they’re other human beings with their own quirks and values and desires…instead of threats to hide from. Obstacles to avoid. Dangerous things who will harm me as soon as they know where to strike.
Lucid Dreaming hasn’t solved all of my problems - not by a long shot. Boy that would be a great deal. It has, however, helped me get over some serious psychological snags over the years. This post is long enough so I’ll end it here, but if you want to follow up on anything specific feel free to ask. If some of my old dream nonsense might actually be useful to someone then there’s no good reason to keep it tucked away.