I Don’t Dream

I don’t dream. I can go for months or years, even, without being aware that I have dreamed. Once in a while I might be startled awake while dreaming, but after I have gone back to sleep I don’t remember the dream. I haven’t woken up in the morning remembering a dream for years, until this week.

Funnily enough, that experience coincided with an online meeting with my therapist that same morning. We were wrapping up our conversation when she mentioned dreaming. I can’t remember what she was talking about, and I am ashamed to say that I interrupted her. Her reference triggered a memory of my dream, and I explained that although I haven’t remembered a dream in years, I had a dream the previous night. So, of course, she asked about it.

After I had given her a summary, she asked me to write it out and then to draw the images I saw. Her suggestion is a tie-in to my reference to a former life experience in which I was able to draw and paint. I went to art college for a couple of years when I was about eighteen or nineteen, and this fact came up in the course of our discussion. Anyway, being a wise and lovely therapist, she asked me not only to write about my dream, but also to draw or paint about it. I have a lot of anxiety about the drawing/painting part because my skills were always limited and I haven’t done much drawing or painting since my youth. The writing part is easy for me. I can do that. But the creative visual artist in me has been neglected over the years. Maybe stunted. Maybe avoided. I’m not sure.

Today I decided that I should get on this task right away or else I would push it into the neverneverland of future potential projects. I started by writing out the memory of the dream:

______

I am sitting in a dark restaurant at a round black table with my back to the door. I might be with J (and M?), but I’m not sure. (It looks a lot like the interior of Tony’s Pizza Palace in Edmonton). I am looking at myself from behind J’s back. He is wearing a black coat.

I get a call from my dentist saying he can see me but I have to get to his clinic right away.  So, I apologize to J and leave in a rush. It is night time outside. I start hurrying towards the dentist’s clinic but I am in New Orleans and don’t know my way around. The fact that my dentist is in Edmonton is not relevant in my dream.

I am a younger me. Probably about 50. I am dressed for an academic conference; blazer, skirt, pantyhose, etc.

After rushing around for a while, I realize I am lost. I am standing in one of the popular streets that is full of restaurants and bars and there are lots of people partying in the street. They all appear to be wearing black or are in shadow somehow, or maybe it is simply nighttime.

I need to call someone to let them know I am lost but I realize I left my purse at the restaurant and it has my phone inside. I can’t even get a cab, either, because I don’t have my wallet. I want to call K to come and get me, but I can’t because I don’t have my phone. The fact that he is in Canada seems irrelevant at the time.

I want to let the dentist know I will be late, but I can’t do that either because I don’t have my phone

I think about asking a police officer, but I don’t know what they can do to help since I can’t remember the name of the restaurant where I left my purse. I know it is one word, a name beginning with M, but that’s all. Then I am talking to two police officers and one of them (a woman?) keeps suggesting possible names but none of them is the right one.

So, I walk into a bar to see if anyone there can help me. There are large round pendant lights all around the bar. The bartender looks towards me as I walk up to the bar.

_____

That is the dream. As I was writing this out it occurred to me that there are some real life experiences that are relevant so I made some notes:

Notes: I have a dental appointment tomorrow.

I went to an academic conference in New Orleans many years ago. I went with colleagues to a popular street near to the hotel. I went to the conference with J because my presentation was inspired by him.

I checked my file and the paper was called “Controlled Transgression in ‘I Kissed a Girl’” at a conference in April 2009.

_____

This is my sketch of the first part of the dream. It is very tentative and preliminary, but it gives you some idea of the image.

I’ll try to draw more (and better!) images of the street in New Orleans and the bar with the lights, but for now this is what I have. If you have thoughts about what all this means, please pass them along. If you think dreams are meaningless, that’s OK too. I just thought I’d throw this out to give us all something to think about besides viruses and politicians.

16 Comments

  1. I used to keep dream journals – was very much into dreams long ago. In fact that was the link in my education between English literature and psychology. I still remember dreams sometimes and have had a lot of dreams similar in theme to yours – where I’m lost somewhere- and have to get somewhere- and don’t have my purse. Don’t remember where I’m going. Don’t have a phone number. Sometimes it’s city streets or the campus of a huge university, or corridors in a large building and I keep going along looking. Sometimes there is a class I have to get to somewhere to teach something I have no knowledge of. Sometimes I am dressed inappropriately (unlike you in this case). They don’t seem to relate to anything specific in my life at the time – I believe they are called anxiety dreams. Quite a few of my dreams, however, I could make some sort of sense of.

    1. Thanks for this, Barb. It is interesting but troubling that dreams about being lost and needing to get somewhere are common enough to be ordinary. I can understand why they are called anxiety dreams but I really did not feel anxious about anything. Or, maybe that is the point of the dream; to take me to feelings I am not aware of.

  2. I would suggest that you are dressed to give a presentation at a conference in the dream because you are set up to give a presentation in your blog. You have a persona.

  3. I have no insight for you, but think it’s a a great idea to journal and then draw. I too, think you have a wise therapist. Drawing, painting, even working with clay, can reach past the intellect and to our emotive places. This sounds like an interesting venture! Keep us posted! (Loved your sketch!)

        1. I don’t know if I have the self-discipline to journal daily, but I admire you for doing so. I sometimes think of this blog as a kind of journal, but because it is public I don’t write about very personal matters. A journal would be good for that. And, as you say, maybe I will remember more dreams if I start writing about them.

  4. Anne, I looked at so many dreams with my therapist during our 10 years together. I am a very active dream person and seldom miss a night with at least one dream. So I journaled my dreams and we would discuss them during our sessions and as we worked together I learned so much about myself. I also came to terms with issues I had carried around for years. I had not realized how much power a dream can hold and if one does not examine it, much knowledge gets left behind. And my daughter is sure that she does not dream at all. I tease her that it must be nice to resolve one’s life issues as they arise! I find that dreams seem to evaporate which is why writing about them, even just a few key words, can be priceless. I keyed in to the word ‘black’ from what you wrote here of your very busy and concerned (?) dream.

    1. My therapist also said that writing about dreams can open up one’s mind to them, making them more likely to be remembered. (Or, words to that effect.) I think I’ll put a notebook nearby and make it an early morning activity.

      After I re-read what I had written for this post, I also noted the repetition of the word black but didn’t edit it out as it seemed significant.

  5. No I am not suggesting that you are anxious about your blog- maybe you are I don’t know. The meaning of a dream is not so straightforward. Also everybody dreams every night. Usually one would have 4 sleep cycles of about 90 minutes each with a REM period at the end of each cycle. REM periods get longer with each cycle. This is when most dreams occur.
    It is useful to find associations to things in your dream as you were doing. Don’t accept anybody else’s interpretation unless it feels right.

  6. I like to keep a day diary, and a dated dream diary in the same loos leaf binder. I name both the day stories and the night stories, Coming back to read them years later, it is sometimes hard to tell them apart, to know which is the dream 😉 Great idea to draw / paint and write down your dreams for sure. I, also have dreams with attention to detail in the surroundings. Sometimes a dream later will explain the earlier dream.

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