I don’t know about anyone else, but my recurring dreams always follow the same themes but not the play-by-play. They’ve changed as I’ve gotten older, but generally at any one point in time, I have about several that cycle through my brain at night.
When I was younger, I read a book about interpreting dreams. I thought that was so fascinating–until I finished the book. The purpose of interpreting your dream is to find out what unconscious information your mind is trying to tell you, but I found out pretty quickly that it’s just that same crap I worry about during the daytime, wrapped up in a dreamscape.
For instance, I used to have dreams about getting stuck in an elevator or having an elevator malfunction. It would go sideways or not go to the proper floor or shoot off into space or have the floor sides disappear. After applying the lessons of the book, I found out that I was frustrated with not having a romantic relationship. (This was before Kevin.)
What a waste of a dream journal. I knew that already. It was one of the main frustrations of my life at that point.
The method is interesting, though. I really don’t know why it took an entire book to get it across, but that’s non-fiction for you. The first step is to actually capture your dreams, but once you’ve started journaling in the morning, you start being able to retain them more. Once you can remember the dreams, that’s when you can start interpreting them.
You examine each dream and pull apart the pieces that make you feel a certain way. You examine each feeling and compare it to a situation in your life where you feel the same way. In the elevator example, I had a particular anxious-ridden, out-of-control worry when it happened that I did when I thought about not having a boyfriend. On the one hand, it’s kind of neat because it’s tailored to yourself. And how did my brain even come up with a malfunctioning elevator to represent that? Kind of cool.
But, again, not that cool because I already knew I was stressed out about it. I was worried I’d be alone my whole life (at the ripe age of 25 I met Kevin… so much for being alone forever, lol, self). I had high standards, and I found it difficult to meet men I felt were my intellectual equal, so it seemed like I had zero control over that aspect of my life, just like in the elevator.
The past several years, I’ve had four types of recurring dreams. As I mentioned at the beginning, they’re merely themes–every time I dream the dream, something different happens, although the emotions involved are the same.
Recurring Dream #1: Can’t Get Home
The first one I’m pretty sure I know what it means. In these dreams, I’m in downtown Toronto after work, and I can’t find my way home. My GPS isn’t working or my phone is broken or something is preventing me from finding my way to the train. In other versions, I find my way to the train, but they’ve changed Union and the layout is confusing. I can’t find the right one, I can’t get on the train, or I’ve missed it. Sometimes I do make it to the train, but the train itself is strange, and I never end up pulling into the station. Always something is preventing me from getting home, and I’m desperate to do so.
I think this one is as simple as my wanting to do something other than work downtown at my banking job. I’m pretty sure it’s specifically about becoming successful at writing, although I don’t know if the train represents writing or the city or the desire to come home. As I’ve said previously, I’m not all that enamored with interpreting my dreams anymore, so I have a good sense of what it’s about–and I’m doing as much as I can right now about it–and that’s enough for me.
Recurring Dream #2: Can’t Pass High School or College
This one I’m not sure the interpretation of it. I think it has something to do with my job and writing, although I could be wrong.
In the dream, I decide I need to pass high school again. For some reason, I didn’t get my high school degree (even though I still have my Bachelors of Science in Physics in the dream), so I decide I’m going to take high school classes. Throughout the dream, I’m frustrated because I’m starting to see it as a waste of time. I’m trying to work at my regular job and schedule things around my meetings.
Most of the time, I can’t find my class schedule. I know I can log on to the portal, if only I could figure out how it works. I sometimes make it to one of the classes, but most of the time I miss most of them and think, “Meh, not a big deal. I’ll go later in the week.”
At some point in the dream, I realize I need to let this go. I am a perfectionist, and I want to do every last little thing that needs doing. Finishing high school is important, right? Except, as the dream goes on, I realize it’s not important. I’ve been working for 14 years, for crying out loud, and I don’t need a high school diploma!
Maybe this dream is just about perfectionism. I should probably pay more attention to when it rears up. Perhaps the previous day I was trying to do too much, some of which was a pointless exercise in perfection. Yeah. That sounds legit.
Recurring Dream #3: My Parents and I Are Moving Somewhere
I haven’t had this dream since my parents moved in with us. I don’t know if it’s prophetic or not. It sort of seems that way, but I don’t know what the point of a prophetic dream like that would be, especially a recurring one. I have no other interpretation of this.
In the dream, my parents are selling their home and moving into a new one. Every time, I’m moving in with them. Sometimes the home they’re selling is my childhood one out in the country in Iowa; sometimes it’s a dream-created house they purchased that they decided they don’t like anymore. The house we’re moving into is always different, as well. There was once a huge mansion with four floors and gleaming spires right on the ocean. In another dream, it was just a small house.
In the dream, I’m excited about moving into a room of my own. When I was a kid, I used to get this feeling when I would move somewhere new. It’s a room, all my own, where I could arrange the furniture how I liked and the space was All Mine. It’s definitely a feeling from my childhood, you know? How you’d make a little fort out of sticks against a tree and say, “MINE, ALL MINE!”
Sometimes in the dream, I’m borrowing the room when I come visit. Sometimes in the dream, I’m actually moving in with them. Sometimes my brother is there, sometimes I’m an only child, with no husband or kids to take care of. It’s definitely a throwback to when I was young, but I don’t know why. Do I long for a simpler time? Is it about hiding from my responsibilities? Is it actually about my parents moving in with us to help while I go through chemotherapy?
I have no idea.
Recurring Dream #4: The Demon in the Basement
This is the one that made me decide to write a blog post about recurring dreams.
This one is disturbing, and I only have one interpretation.
This dream sometimes combines with the one where my parents and I are moving into a house, although more often, it’s a different one on its own.
I am in a house somewhere, and I make my way down to the basement. Something feels wrong about it. It’s usually a disturbance, a supernatural feeling of anger or hatred. The air shimmers with darkness. Fear makes my heart beat faster.
I want to ignore it. Maybe I can exorcise the demon, I think. But what do I know about that? Do I have enough authority over demonic forces to cast it out?
In many occasions, the house is my pre-childhood house, the one that I lived in until I was 10. Memories of that basement already come with fear because I was so young. I had this feeling that something was going to get me as I turned off the lights and ran up the stairs–
It’s exactly like that.
In another dream, it’s a house we’re looking at to buy. I don’t want to buy it, but somehow I don’t have a choice. We’re already locked in. We have a demon infesting the basement, and we have to deal with it.
I’ve had the dream for at least a year or two. I’d wake up afraid because I didn’t know what it meant. I thought maybe it was a relationship issue with someone, but none of my relationships felt remotely that toxic. The demon is a fucking scary beast that radiates anger and hatred in every single dream.
What, I would wonder, can it be?
I’m relieved now because I figured out what it was.
On several levels, I feel better. I mean, that’s a strange thing to say, I suppose. But I haven’t had the dream since I got my diagnosis.
The demon was there, waiting to devour me in my dreams, and I would run away from the basement but know it was there. I feel better now because I’m no longer ignoring it like I did in my dreams. We’re facing it head on. It’s not a slavering beast wanting to consume me. It’s nothing. It’s being handled. Even as I think about the dreams I had in the past, I feel better now because I’m no longer running away and ignoring it.
The second reason I feel better is because I now know that my body was aware it had cancer. I honestly don’t think I could have ever, ever connected the dream with having cancer before I was diagnosed, so I wasn’t actually “ignoring it” in real life. But my body knew something was wrong, deep down in the basement of my unconscious, and it was trying to tell me. The question, “How could I not know I had cancer growing and spreading inside me?” is answered now.
The answer is that I did.
You wouldn’t think that should make me feel better, but it does.
I’m relieved right now, quite frankly, although the entire thing is disturbing to think about.