Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Recurring Dream Theme

What some of the houses I've dreamed about might look like from the outside.
Image by Filip Dujardin (Source)

I had a crazy version of one of my odd architecture/chase/adventure dreams this morning, so it seemed a perfect day to talk about this recurrent theme in the dreams I've had throughout my life, as mentioned in my post about dreams from a couple weeks ago. A few people asked me to talk about that further, so today I'm going to discuss several dreams of this type that I've had over the years. My dreams are all in italics.

In this latest dream, I was with my original immediate family (i.e. my parents and siblings) in a low-roofed country house that looked out over hills and mountains could be seen in the distance. We were in a large wood-paneled living room/dining room that was decorated with items straight out of the 70s and 80s, including a large orange couch with brown flowers. In my dream my siblings spent the whole time we were together complaining and finally I stormed out, telling them that I was sick of hearing their whining or something along those lines.

I went down to the basement of the house to look for an inflatable mattress for a childhood friend who was coming to stay the night, feeling a bit silly about my outburst. The basement turned into a series of underground rooms, all full of different stuff, some junk, some not. I  couldn't find what I was looking for, but suddenly I heard the noise of it inflating and I wondered 1) why it was on and 2) how much electricity had been wasted by it re-inflating itself down in the basement where no one was using it.

When I found the mattress, my younger sister and the expected friend suddenly appeared and we had a brief conversation about dinner and our sleeping arrangements before they left to go lie down. I told them I had something else to do before bed and I left the house. It is dark now, and the stars and moon are the only lights.

I was out in the yard, which quickly led to animal pens and giant farm sheds full of tractors, etc. I was wandering around making sure everything was ok when I found a space where a vagrant had started squatting between two sheds. He had marked "his" area with barbed wire and had two large dogs with him who would attack me if he let them. I was trying to decide what to do when a large monster - looking like a werewolf covered in black slime - attacked the man and his dogs, tearing the throat out of one. There was a tall wire fence between me and the house now, so I went around the shed to climb up it.

Suddenly I was at the top of the fence, trying to balance on the wobbly wire while holding on to a thin, shaky tree branch for balance, looking down at the monster who was looking up at me with the other dog in its hands/paws. It had just ripped the dog's throat out and I knew that he was trying to decide whether to kill me now or kill me later when I woke up.

I wasn't scared at all in the dream or when I woke up, which is something still new-ish for me. It's only in the past few years that these have started entertaining, rather than frightening me - though some of them can still be scary. These types of dreams always involve odd architecture of some sort, usually where the inside of a place is much, much larger than the outside. They also include characters I do not know. In this one it was just the vagrant, but usually the rooms of the buildings I dream about are filled with loads of people with whom I do not directly interact. I am always looking for something in these dreams - and I usually don't know what it is. And the final component to the dream is some sort of threat that I am trying to get away from, although usually in the dreams there's a lot more running around desperately. My dreams are always in full color, except when they are darker because it's night.

I remember the very first of these dreams was when I was 8 years old, or around there. I dreamed that a whole bunch of people were staying at our family home. They weren't related to us and I wasn't sure why they were there or how they all fit. But one of the guests was a witch who kept setting out delicious desserts for people to find. When they ate the dessert, they would find a piece of paper beneath it which said, "Now you will turn into a [insert random monster here]." Since the food was enchanted, the person would transform into the monster, chasing all of us around the house until we ran inside and locked the door, leaving the monster outside. As the dreamer, I knew what was happening, but myself as a character in the dream didn't, so I couldn't tell people what was happening. Eventually, I was the only one left, barring the door against about 30 or so monsters who were trying to kill me. That dream terrified me for years after I had it, and it's the first dream I ever remember having.

The only time this type of dream served as a type of warning was when I was just about to turn 21 and just about to move to Erie, PA to finish my Bachelor's degree at a university there. I dreamed that I was visiting the college I was planning to attend, and had a meeting with my faculty adviser there. I was in the hallway where his office was, and I saw a shadowy figure behind the frosted glass of his door, but I turned to look at the scaffolding set up in the hall where there seemed to be some roof repair happening (though not at that time because no one else was in the hallway). When I turned back around, the shadow was gone, but I knocked on and opened the door, expecting to see my adviser sitting in his chair, but instead he was on the floor in a pool of blood with a knife sticking out of his back. I ran away and climbed the scaffolding, very aware that the murderer was not far away and certain he was chasing me.

Suddenly the dream shifted so that I was outside of the building on the campus, but all the buildings looked like classical Greek architecture and everyone was wearing togas, myself included. I wandered around the campus, which turned into an ancient Greek city in which every building was made of white marble. I was still trying to get away from the murderer, who was chasing me and cutting long slits into my arms and legs every now and then. My voice had left me, so I couldn't ask for help with words, and everyone who saw me coming at the all bloody and scared just thought I was crazy so I couldn't get any assistance. I eventually woke up after watching myself lose more blood than I would've been able to live with loosing.

It was only years later that I realized that dream was a coded warning about the relationship I had with my ex-husband, who I met the first day of class and who manipulated me into giving more credence to his criticism of myself and my writing than I did my faculty advisers, inflicted deep emotional wounds, and shamed me into silence about the emotional abuse I experienced in that relationship.

All of these dreams I've shared so far have been the few exceptions that include a fair amount of time outdoors, so I thought I'd recount one that is more typical of how the setting tends to be inside a single building (though it's usually a residence of some sort). This past fall, I dreamed that I was in a large government building with lots of offices as well as rooms used for other purposes. I was there, dressed in a purple and pink formal gown, to help with some formal event or ceremony. I took a rack of dresses, like the one I was wearing, to an empty room where other women would be changing later on. As I left the room, closing the door behind me, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a masked man in a tuxedo walking towards me. I felt a wave of menacing feeling come at me from him, and I knew that if he was close enough to touch me, he would murder me with a weapon he was hiding somewhere on his person. So I started to run/walk the other way, planning to find help in a busier part of the building. But when I arrived near people and started asking for help, I found that my voice was gone, and I could only mouth silently. The people didn't understand me, so they just looked at me quizzically until I ran away because my pursuer was gaining on me. I was certain that he would not hesitate to kill me even in front of witnesses. So I spent the remainder of my dream running away, impotently trying to ask for help.

I thought my dreams were rather peculiar until lately, when I discovered that it's quite common for children to dream of being chased or attacked and for those dreams to continue into adulthood, especially for persons with sensitive and/or "artistic" personalities, such as myself.

Related posts:
What's In a Dream

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