I mentioned briefly yesterday that my EMDR session dealing with my son had gone nowhere – turns out that wasn’t exactly true…
(which is why I am working on a write up about EMDR therapy to be posted next week).
I don’t dream often anymore, but last night I had a horrible nightmare. In it were multiple people, and over the course of the dream three people drown, and there were direct interactions that left me with feelings of sadness, deception, fear, permanence, refusal to lie, and frustration at avoidance.
I have quite the fixation with understanding dreams (probably due to all the nightmares and recurring dreams I have had in my life), so I own a couple dream dictionaries for occasions just like this one. I sat down this morning and wrote out the dream, listed key identifiers and feelings, and went to work.
I am using the following book as a guide (love this book, have had it for years): The Illustrated Dream Dictionary by Pamela Ball. It has an amazing index, it is formatted beautifully and is easy to digest. My favorite feature is that it breaks down interpretations into three levels: conventional, psychological, and spiritual.
So here is what happened and how I believe it relates to my life right now.
I feel like I want to write a quick disclaimer that this dream is about death and dead bodies, and could be hard for some to read. It’s not gruesome, more about feeling, but it is still sensitive – so read with care.
“Be you, love you. All ways, always.”
While in a home with multiple people, I became aware that three people had drowned in the pool (in the house). For a period of time, one body stayed in the now (perhaps always?) empty pool, while two others disappeared. Over the course of the dream, I wrestled with the following feelings: fear, acceptance, frustration, sadness, avoidance, and deception.
One of the people who died was close to my child, I spent most of the dream afraid to tell him and afraid of how he would feel. When I did, he was avoidant and told me he didn’t have time to deal with it. I forced him, I told him he had to and he broke down.
Another person in the dream at one point told me the two bodies that disappeared had been hidden (because I was afraid of what would happen when I was found out) to which I told this person I would not lie about what had happened.
I realize that I am every person in my dream.
The Breakdown of Meaning
As I reflected on this dream, I wrote down keywords that represented the most powerful images and feelings and this is what I came up with.
Downing represents the danger of being emotionally overwhelmed by things out of one’s control. It can symbolize a fear of feeling and expressing emotions and can also be a manifestation of feeling unable to handle a stressful situation. On a larger scale, it can represent a feeling of “immersion into the sea of life” and being unable to stay afloat.
Death signifies change. It can also constitute feelings of uncertainty as one faces new normals and big changes in life and circumstance. In its simplest form, death in dreams equates to fear of confronting the unknown. On a deeper level, it can speak to the fear of facing new awarenesses in one’s life and of personal rebirth and transformation.
Water while not present in my dream, was a huge part of it. The deaths in my dream was due to drowning. Water (in all its forms and ways of holding and flowing) represents emotions. In my dream, it was the catalyst for my nightmare but nonexistent. To me, that speaks volumes.
Night: nighttime in dreams can represent a few different things; depression, death, change, and finally the darkness before rebirth.
Emotions: Emotions that are felt in dreams are pretty accurate in their translation. Our dreams are a safe place to face and process things we aren’t facing in real life.
My Dream Translation
Recently I have gone through a very intense and painful situation with my oldest child which you can read about here. In my therapy session this last week it became clear to me that when dealing with many emotions surrounding my son, I am in actuality avoiding and ignoring them. I believe because I have not put any value or validity into the things that I feel regarding my struggle (especially when they aren’t received well by others) my dream was my own personal mental breakdown in secrecy over all of it. Everything in my dream symbolizes overwhelming emotions, change, chaos, uncertainty, and fear.
In real life – I do feel completely helpless and panicked; I have no control, I am facing a permanent change in my life, and I have a whole lot of emotions that I (clearly) haven’t been dealing with because they are BIG !!
It is literally that simple.
With the understanding that I am everyone in my own dream:
I argued with myself as I talked about hiding bodies so I wouldn’t be “found out” vs. not lying about what had happened. I need to stop lying to myself (and everyone else) about what I am feeling.
I argued with myself about facing my feelings about the death that had occurred, I told myself I had to face it and I broke down. I can’t keep avoiding the changes that are happening in my life or the emotions that I am feeling despite how painful they are.
I felt such anxiety over the permanence of the deaths in my dream. There was no going back. I was so scared. I am terrified of acceptance, of letting go, and of what that means for me going forward.
This nightmare literally screamed at me in my head:
“I don’t know who I am or where I am going in all of this”.
Sometimes translating the dream and figuring out what it means is more painful, and scarier than the actual dream itself.
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