Variations on a Dream

I am walking from ‘the house’ toward the front gate on familiar chipped square tiles. I encounter three ferociously barking rottweilers. They are to the right of the path, in the part of the yard where one of the avocado trees rains down the largest leaves. I feel afraid.
I wake.

I am walking from the house toward the front gate. The light feels different, brighter. I look to the right, and the dogs aren’t there. Maybe they are somewhere else. I’m surprised.
I wake.

I am walking toward the gate, and the dogs aren’t there. I keep
walking. I am noticing more details, more color as I reach the gate. It is not right on its hinges so I lift up the gate itself as I open and lift the handle, and walk through. So tangible. I keep going, out into the street, surprised not to be stopped, where there are three huskies laying around in the road. I look at each of them and see that two are sleeping, but one is wide awake. I look into his eyes – startling blue;
they are my son’s.

The first part of the dream above stagnantly recurred for years before I sought out therapy. And then during that process, began moving into its other progressions.

It stopped when I knew what it was saying… what was trying to make its way through to my psyche: the three huskies were my children, my life now. The hell-hounds were behind me.

I was free to go, but didn’t know.

I experienced a lot of peace after that, and a level of stability that supported a great deal of forgiveness, as though a huge deposit had been made into my emotional account. I’d honored my own story and voice, therefore didn’t need to be understood as much. By making place for it somewhere it wouldn’t hurt anyone else, exposing it to the light, the fear had found correct proportion.

I’m not sure people can forgive by acts of will, but forgiveness is definitely possible.

I’ve been sharing some ways I productively deal with restless feelings lately. It has been amazing how much energy there seems to channel! What I haven’t talked about directly though, is the relentless nighttime anxiety I’ve been experiencing since early last year. I wasn’t sure how to grip the subject, mainly because I hadn’t thought of it like a recurring dream, nor compared it to the example above–until this week.

I also remembered sleep paralysis as a teen. Any kind of dream would lead to being/feeling choked while trying to scream… not able to use my voice. Or, I would half-wake feeling as though I were outside my body and couldn’t get back in. Others who have had these experiences describe hallucinations, actual figures that seem to be in the room on that sleep/wake boundary.

Image result for sleep paralysis
The Nightmare – by Johann Heinrich Fussli

Sleep paralysis experiences have also been called “waking nightmares”

There wasn’t too much information then (there is A LOT now, and a researcher friend helped to fill fascinating gaps in my knowledge), but while feverishly reading self-help books in the library, trying to get a hold on what was happening, I did become enamored with Carl Jung, relating to the hidden layers of meaning and symbology he described.

Which later led to my developing a longstanding dream practice, and delving into related topics with friends also so inclined.

SO, what is happening now is similar to sleep paralysis: I wake at some point almost every night, in tears or argument. First thing in the morning this greets me too, until I shake off things, memories mostly, that I thought I came to terms with before.

Image result for anxiety dream

A lot of it is physical. The science-y part of me breaks it down this way:

  1. There is a history of panic attacks in my family.
  2. There is a history of barely traceable hypoglycemia as well, which leads to drops in blood sugar during the night, affecting sleep and dreams.
  3. I am in a key age range for hormonal changes, similar to puberty.
  4. Even before some recently upsetting events, I was having work anxiety I couldn’t shake, catastrophizing and exaggerating faults; the anxiety has just switched what it is clinging to.

    * Therefore, one part of my hypothesis is that I need to have some blood work done, see what is off kilter, and fix it.

But as anyone who has experienced these things knows, what the nightmarish phenomenon roots into can also reveal a lot about what one is not facing. Not continuing to ignore … taking the content coming to the surface as a sign it is ready to work with, may yield rewards.

I’ve reached out and have made an appointment with a therapist.

Good for me.

And good for you, doing so too, if you recognize yourself in anything I’ve written here, which may spark deeper inquiry.


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