Processing dreams

Like Alice in wonderland
The dream takes you by the hand
Inside emotions that you might not feel
If by some notion the dream was not real
Lyrics from The Dream by Culture Club

I know there are people who suffer a lot from nightmares. My son is one of them. Whenever there is something about to happen, something that makes him nervous, the nightmares start. He had a lot of nightmares before he moved out, and in the first period after the move he had them too.

I rarely ever have nightmares, or rather, so I thought.

Okay, let me clarify that. What one person classifies as a nightmare, isn’t necessarily what someone else would call a nightmare. I have never woken up screaming, but I have woken up upset or afraid, and those I call disturbing dreams, not nightmares. Others might call it nightmares. One thing I am very afraid of dreaming about, is deep dark water, as I have written about before. If I dream of that, and don’t manage to wake myself up, I might wake up screaming.

In the two or three weeks before my son moved out, I started having strange dreams. Just like many other people, I don’t always remember what I have dreamed, but in that period, and in the two weeks after he moved out, I frequently woke up in the morning, sat on the side of my bed and wondered ‘where did that come from?’ when I thought about the dream I had.

I dreamed about the husband of a colleague – a man I am not very fond of – and how I curled up next to him in bed, and asked him what his wife would think of us being in bed together. He told me that she wouldn’t mind, because they have an open relationship. I know for a fact that if he ever fucks around, she would throw him out, so where the hell did that dream come from?

I dreamed about my children and grandchildren, and how I wasn’t allowed to see any of them, but in my dream I could see how close they were and I had no idea why they were angry with me. I am so close to my kids, and I know that even though they do get upset with me at times, they definitely want me in their lives, so where did that dream come from?

The dream that stayed with me the longest was the last one I had, two weeks after my son moved, and the last of three weeks of very broken nights. In my dream was my son, and he refused to talk to me. He didn’t even want to look at me. I begged him to talk to me, told him that this is not the way to treat me after I have cared so much for him for twenty-one years, and then in my dream, I corrected myself: thirty-one years. (He turned 31 a month after he moved out.) He still refused to talk to me, and there, in my dream was my mom – a younger version of her – and I begged her to help me, begged her to talk to my son and tell him to talk to me. That this was not the way to treat me after all I have done for him. My mom walked into her bedroom and called my son, using her pet name for him. I was distressed and hurt and all I wanted was for things to be good again.

Then I woke up. You know that feeling when you wake up and all the emotions you had in your dream is still part of you? That was how I felt. I sat on the side of the bed for a while, trying to understand where the stupid dream came from. It just didn’t feel right. I gave up and went for a shower. It was under the shower that something hit me: the pet name my mom used in the dream wasn’t the one she had for my son, but the one she had for my brother. The moment I realized this, everything fell in place: my ‘son’ not speaking to me, is my brother not speaking to me (the last time we spoke was at my mom’s funeral); the younger version of my mother obviously was because my ‘son’ was a younger version of my brother (both my mom and I frequently mixed their names up).

I believe (and many others with me) the reason we have dreams is to process upsetting things. The fact that I am not speaking to my brother anymore (his choice, not mine, but after two years I am not very much open to any kind of relationship with him anymore) was something that bothered me for quite some time, but I have come to accept it. Our relationship all through our lives mostly existed because I did my best for it, while his narcissistic approach was and still is that everyone should do as he wants. I pass for that. I think the dream has helped me to process that. The day before my mom passed she told me that from ‘up there’ she would make sure my brother speaks to me again. Maybe the dream was also a sort of closure that it would never happen again.

Like I said in the beginning, I barely ever have nightmares, but I do have upsetting dreams, which sometimes become clearer the more I think about it, and sometimes I just don’t understand the meaning and the dream itself fades into the background.

© Rebel’s Notes

Food for Thought Friday
The September Song Project

7 thoughts on “Processing dreams

  1. It is good that you were able to work our what was underlying and I agree that dreams can be helpful for processing things. Although you are proud and happy for your son moving out it is a huge deal too and I think you are bound to have a lot of additional emotion to process. Perhaps a little part of you felt guilty that you were looking forward to and enjoying the space when for so much of your life his care has been what you have put first. I know that I can often feel conflicted between the emotional and the rational where things to do with my children are concerned.

  2. I am very much the same. Disturbing dreams but no nightmares. Very often I will awaken from one and do the same as you, wondering where in the world that came from. Unfortunately, I can’t usually come up with a meaning as you have. I love that you were able to work that one out! 🙂

  3. Totally relate to the ‘where TF did that come from?!’ feeling, I’ve had it many a time. I think you’re right about dreams being a way to process things. Some of the scariest psycho motherfuckers I’ve ever known are people who claim to never have nightmares.

  4. I have had similar “bad dreams” – and always wonder why. The way I behave or others behave in the dream seem so alien. But that’s dreams – really crazy that we are able to have them. Never ceases to amaze me x

  5. It’s unsettling when the remnants of the difficult emotions our dreams can create hang on to us when we wake, they can definitely take some processing as our brains try and work it out for us. Thanks for sharing x

  6. I agree that dreams can be a way of processing. They can also be complete nonsense. 😉

    I’ve done sort of an amateur study of symbolism in dreams, and I’ve found that figuring out the symbolism can help me process the more difficult/disturbing ones.

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