Sleeptime dreams are an important part of my life; I view dreaming as a one of my gifts in this life. Not all dreams are remarkable but many of my personal insights and psychic occurrences occur in dreams. I am able to distinguish between psychic dreams I should heed, informational dreams that contain nuggets of truth I need to work with and the more common, non-essential, letting-off-steam type of dreams. I want to share an example of my process of working with my dreams that deal with my dissociation recovery.
First off, let me state that I do occasionally seek advice from others about their takes on my dream imagery; but I believe that the imagery and symbols in your dreams are there because they mean something to you. The few instances when this may not be the case is in the case of psychic dreams when we can receive information and imagery from outside of our life experience. I’ve come to believe that some people either never experience this or never remember it.
Repetitive themes are one of my clues that I need to work with a dream. Over the course of the last year I have been having nightmares that involve me driving on busy expressways, when all of a sudden I find my eyes closed and I cannot open them! My lids are so heavy and I cannot will them open. I am blind while operating a car! I panic and fear a seemingly inevitable crash all the while desperately fighting my closed lids. I try to slow down and coast to the side, hoping I’ll just bump into a guard rail or something before a terrible crash happens. I awaken with adrenaline pumping and fear.
The car driving theme is not new to me. For decades I had nightmares involving me driving unruly family members in a car when sudden, outrageous danger befalls us. While i tried to maintain control, I also resigned myself to imminent death. I would awaken when the car was plummeting off a bridge or into a body of water or some other tragic and fantastical accident. They were terribly upsetting as it felt as if I was seeing my own death. I worked a lot with these nightmares and saw that for me, my stewardship of the car paralleled stewardship of my life and that i literally felt that I had to ‘carry’ my family members safely in unsafe situations. The car/my life encountered catastrophes and despite my best effort, proved to much for me to handle and so I faced my annihilation head on and was somewhat resigned to it. The dream spoke to my feelings of hopelessness.
I’ve done a lot of work to not “carry” the unhelpful aspects of my family members any more. I recognize that I am solo on this life journey and I have worked hard to un-mesh myself with my parents. I am still doing this work. Also, where previous dangers used to come from outside (Tsunami’s, earthquakes, etc), the danger I now face is internal, it is my own eyes that are closed. I interpret this as the danger is not happening to me right now but rather I am not able to tolerate seeing what is actually around me. And it is that self-imposed blindness that is threatening how I live my life/how I drive my car. Although I face getting into a potentially life threatening accident still, I am not resigned to it and come up with a plan (to slow down and coast to the side) while I continue to try to open my eyes. I do not give up.
All that is progress, yes! But still scary and so I made overt attempts to change my nightmare. First I started by talking with all parts of myself. Both internally and even out loud, I thanked them for relaying information to me and reassured them that I am ready to see what I could not before. I told myself I am OK to see what lies around me and maneuver my way safely. I also asked repeatedly for all parts of myself to assist me in this by running a sort of interference where they each could. This means that different parts of myself that might be holding onto terrible things that I am fearing seeing, can manipulate the imagery in my dream to be less scary for me. They can be active in my dream recovery work. I repeated these affirmations and requests for several weeks and expressed hopefulness to myself about my ability to transform the nightmare.
Last night I had a victory! As requested, the car on the busy expressway was transformed into a bicycle in an old childhood neighborhood. I am riding a new bicycle in the old neighborhood and come upon my own old bike discarded in the road. The neighborhood I am riding in is a neighborhood that held racial tension against my family while we lived there so I am apprehensive to be riding out alone. I realize I do not want to abandon my old bike so I try to carry it along while maneuvering the new bigger bike. As I am riding semi-successfully a neighborhood kid comes along and taunts me about “keep your eyes open!” and I realize my eyes are irritated and I blink and rub while trying to maneuver. I lose the bike I am carrying and continue until I am able to ride well again and then I go back and look for my old bike. I find it in pieces but carry them home with me to reassemble.I am feeling a bit bullied and wary. Then I awaken.
I am so happy with this dream. Major props to my younger inner child!!! I easily recognize my broken older bike as a dissociated younger self that split off during those difficult years in that house. There was sexual abuse by my grandfather, familial strife and neighborhood racial hostility that erupted into violence during those years (around 1st – 3rd grades). The danger is now presented in a more manageable form that I can interact with in my dream. (Crashing on a bike is bad but not necessarily deadly.) And most impressively, I return, despite the taunting of a bully, to rescue the old hurt bike. This represents my willingness to go back and reclaim all parts of my life and to heal myself. I am sad to realize the taunting neighborhood kid reflects an internalized bully that I punish myself with. One that puts me down for not being strong enough. But I will work to befriend that aspect of myself. I’m so proud of me, great work to me!!!
If you want to work with your dreams and this helps visualize one way of doing so, then I am happy. But if it seems foreign and untenable for you, no worries. I am just sharing my experiences. Use it to help yourself, never to compare yourself. I’d love to hear examples of how your recovery is reflected in your dreams.