Last week, I had three memorable dreams. I usually don’t remember my dreams but I took some 5-HTP last week and that always helps me remember my dreams. So, these three dreams left me thinking and I decided to ask my therapist what her thoughts were on them.
I started by asking what her thoughts on dreams were and I was happy to hear her response. She said that she thinks individuals are the best at interpretating their own dreams. Books that try to generalize or universalize dream interpretation are unscientific and usually wrong.
I basically agree with her. Personally, I think dreams there are two sources of dream interpretation. First, the dreams are our subconscious working something out. It taps into stuff we have suppressed or struggle with and tries to find purpose and healing. Second, I think some dreams are absolute gibberish but we interpret them using our unconscious perspective, like seeing something in a Rorschach Test. Regardless of the source, I think there can be value in analyzing our own dreams and running them by a therapist who can provide a somewhat removed perspective.
Okay, on to my three dreams.
Dream 1: I had a dream that Anna and I were at an event (rave? festival? random travel?) and she basically ignored me the entire time. Instead, she spent her time hanging out with friends and left me alone.
Interpretation: I am struggling with working from home and not having much of a social life here in Wilmington. Part of that is because we’ve been travelling so much that scheduling stuff with friends has been difficult. I also have some buried frustration (jealousy? resentment?) that Anna has a friend group through work and I don’t. When she gets home I am antsy to be social, go out, and do things, but she has been surrounded by friends all day and is more interested in relaxing. I definitely don’t want this to metastasize and this dream has reinforced the need for me to be more proactive in being social.
Dream 2: I am laying down with my head on my therapist’s lap. I’m in the fetal position and crying. My therapist is significantly larger than me (which is strange because my therapist is fairly petite and definitely smaller than me), I am basically child-size, and there is some sort of transparent aura that extends out from her body around me.
Interpretation: I increasingly view my therapist as a safe, protective, and maybe even maternal support system. A lot of what my therapist and I have unpacked are things about my past, my childhood, and how I tend to hide the “child” in me. I also still have some very strong subconscious issues when it comes to feeling safe or secure with women because my first two serious relationships ended because I was cheated on and, in one case, abused.
I was actually somewhat scared to share this dream with my therapist. I was afraid that she would interpret it in a sexual way and decide that it wouldn’t be right for her and I to keep seeing each other. I guess because I tend to view things through a fairly sexual lens then she would as well. I told her about my fears and she reassured me that there was nothing wrong with my dream and that even if I told her that I had a full-on sex dream about her there would be nothing wrong with that and that wouldn’t be cause to stop seeing her. She assured me that she wasn’t going to abandon me or push me away or shame me for my thoughts, feelings, or actions. I cried a little bit.
There is a part of me that is actually a bit surprised that I haven’t had particularly strong sexual thoughts about her. She is very attractive and kind of my “type*”, but I think that is why I’ve been so comfortable opening up with her. I tend to be more open with women I am attracted to. As time has gone on though my sexual attraction to her has diminished and a platonic friendship(?) has come to the front. I think that’s a good thing.
Dream 3: I was sitting at a table gorging myself on food that I’m ethically opposed to eating. I felt like a huge sinner but couldn’t stop shoveling meat into my mouth.
Interpretation: This really goes to the core of some of the things that she and I have been working on. I feel like I am very flawed, guilty, and unlovable. I also catastrophize things where every small mistake, misstep, or “sin” causes incredibly anxiety and I can’t forgive myself (or others). My medication has helped significantly but I still have not completely rooted this out of my system.
I think this all comes from my upbringing. Being raise in an environment where something like masturbation could lead to burning eternally can really fuck with a child’s self-worth and ability to accurately judge reactions. That child then becomes an adult who can logically see the errors in that way of thinking but the ruts have been worn in those neuro-pathways and it is difficult to create new ones.
My therapist gave me some homework, as she usually does, that will challenge these beliefs and work to untangle my mind a bit. The most awkward assignment is that she instructed me to write a daily affirmation that I should say daily out loud, as well as recommended a book with daily readings on this subject, “Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On”. So, my morning routine has a couple extra steps that I’m going to integrate.
This feels super awkward and vulnerable, but here is my affirmation draft:
I am a good person who deserves to be happy.
My friends value me for my honesty, openness, and loyalty.
I am loved by many and I love myself.
There is nothing wrong with loving myself.
I will continue to be kind and patient with myself.
I am a human being with flaws but there is nothing wrong with that.
My pursuit of self-improvement and education is admirable,
but I am great here and now.
I am a good person who makes the world a better place.
*I don’t really have a “type”, I tend to be attracted to an overall aesthetic that can vary significantly in body type, outfits, attitude, etc.
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Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”