05 July 2009

Dreamsharer/Go With It

I love telling people about my dreams.

I especially love telling people when they played a role it the dream. In fact, I wish I knew more about me showing up in other peoples dreams. I can't remember the last time that anybody told me about one. In fact, I can't remember the last time anybody told me about a dream period.

Is sharing your dreams with people a social faux pas? I know your own dreams are never as interesting to someone else as they are to yourself, but I just find them fascinating. A glimpse into our unconsciousness that's unavailable through any other avenue. Why not share?

I feel like my dreams have gotten closer and closer to my waking thoughts in the last couple of years. I used to have dreams that had characters in them that were ostensibly people I knew in real life but were so ludicrous and physically impossible that they wouldn't really affect me much beyond thinking I had a funny dream.

My anxiety dreams alwas used to be about calculus. Usually centering around not knowing where a final was or having a final and not having opened the book nor attending a class all semester. (By the way I haven't been in a math class since first semester freshman year in college. So, almost a decade.) These days I dream about things that have concrete connections to my real life. For example, my sister and I spent many hours planning a 40th wedding anniversary party for my parents last month. In the week before I flew home, I had a very vivid dream that I was in my parents house as I realized not only was our entire neighborhood starting to burn, but that our house was on fire. The only thing I could think was that I had to save my parents wedding photo album.

I've found also that my dreams have a weird way of being a reality check for me. That house burning dream forced me to admit, although not out loud, that I was really stressing out about the planning and worried about all the things that could go wrong. I tend to dream about men that I'm attracted to, whether or not there is actual sexual content in the dream, and I wake up having to own up to it to myself. Which is a good thing actually, but can be really frustrating when in the dream I was cuddled up to a man-friend but when I wake it's a teddy bear.

This is not to say that I think my unconscious thoughts are truths that I need to face up to. I had a dream that involved my ex, who in real life just had a baby with his new wife, and his mother and me, and I really wanted to tell him how much I cared about him and was happy for him. In real life, while I wish him no harm, I certainly don't have anything I need to say to him.

I know I've considered more seriously dreams since Brendan died, which from what I understand is pretty standard in grief. Dreams took on a new meaning for me last summer, when things were still so sharp and so very painful, and I had some dreams with and about Brendan. In the dreams I felt him alive, and that of course made it that much more difficult to wake up. The one I remember most vividly was one night before I was traveling home for a weekend. In the dream it was present tense, we were walking around I think Chicago, and I was explaining to Brendan what had happened and why he'd been gone for a few months. I skipped the part about him dying, because he couldn't have, because I was talking to him. At the end of the dream we were just sitting somewhere and I really had to pee. I told him, "I'm not going to go. I'll hold it. I'll stay asleep, so don't go anywhere. I'm staying asleep." That was the hardest dream to wake up from.

One of the better words of advice and comfort I've received from anyone was from one of my grief counselors. I was telling her about this dream and saying how badly, how desperately I wanted it to really be Brendan, how much I felt that this was him somehow but I didn't know if it was or if it felt like it was because I wanted it to be so badly. Her response? "Who cares?" I hadn't thought about it like that. She pointed out that whatever it was, why question it? Why diagnose and analyze it? It felt real, it felt good, so go with it.

It felt real, it felt good, so go with it.

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