Dreaming the Night Away

Last night was a terrible, horrible, very bad night. 

Oh, don’t be frightened, I’m fine.  Nothing bad really happened.

It was all in my dreams.

Usually, I don’t dream.  Or at least, I don’t remember my dreams.  And last night, I was really looking forward to a good night’s sleep.  You see, I’m at my Florida house all alone –  no dogs hogging the bed, no chainsaw massacre snoring – just the king sized pillowtop mattress, the gently whirring ceiling fan, and me.

Alas, it was not to be.  I had nightmares of epic proportions, a continuing saga of a dream that kept waking me up with a start, and then, picking up where it left off when I managed to doze off again.  Somehow it involved me and two of my friends on a trip somewhere, and terrible things kept happening so we couldn’t get home.

The last scene involved a gunman holding a woman hostage – she was tall and blonde and dressed in a forest green business suit.  “Don’t hurt me, Paul,” she kept saying, as he pointed the gun directly at her head.  Meanwhile, my two friends had disappered and I was crouched in the hallway of some conference center, not ten feet away from where this drama was taking place. 

Despite her pleading and the police totally surrounding him, he fired the gun and she crumpled to the floor.  A policeman tackled him, but he turned and started firing the gun randomly in the air, until the policeman wrested him to his knees, taking the gun from his hand by grabbing it with his teeth!

Dear Lord.

So much for a restful night’s sleep.

Where in the heck do dreams like that come from?  Was it the late dinner at PF Chang’s where we stopped on the way home from the airport?  Was it the extra glass of wine I polished off before bed?  Was it talking with my son and daughter in law about their upcoming trip to Thailand?  Was it being all alone in this big house?

Some people believe our dreams have important messages for our future.  The high school kids I work with just presented the musical Fiddler on the Roof, and it contains a scene where Tevye uses a (fictional!) dream to convince his wife their eldest daughter is destined to marry the “poor tailor” instead of the butcher chosen by the matchmaker. 

“Tell me your dream, and I’ll tell you what it means,” Golde says to Tevye.  And he proceeds to recount a horrific tale that involves Golde’s grandmother and the butcher’s first wife, both of whom have been dead for years.  By the end of his story, Golde is convinced.  “It is a sign,” she says.  “So that’s how it was meant to be, and it couldn’t be any better.”

Of course Sigmund Freud made a scientific phenomenon of dream analysis.  In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, he contended that the foundation of all dreams was “wish fulfillment” and the instigation of a dream was always to be found in the events of the day proceeding it.

If that’s the case, then I think Sigmund and I need to have a talk.  Neither of these options is very appealing in light of last night’s dreams.

Last week, a blogging friend had some interesting things to say about the connection between depression and dreams.  Seems a book she read indicated that depressed folks dream more, and as a result, wake up feeling less rested, thus perpetuating this vicious circle of depression and bad feeling. The whole bad dream cycle begins as a result of “failing to have ones basic needs met,” thus inciting worry about these particular difficulties.  The authors of this particular tome (which she never identified, more’s the pity) refer to this as “misusing the imagination,” by allowing “emotionally arousing thoughts to go round and round in their heads.” 

And so night falls, and one’s mind must deal with all these bad thoughts and feelings that have been roiling around all day.  The mind converts them into dreams (and not necessarily good ones), but in doing so it prevents the body from falling into the deepest level of REM sleep needed to feel rested and refreshed the next day.

Remember those “basic needs,” the lack of which started this cycle to begin with?  Well, one of them is (of course!) plenty of restful sleep.  And so the cycle begins again, in all its viciousness.

If you visit here regularly, you’ll know I’ve had some worrying things to ponder lately.  Perhaps last night’s dream was the equivalent of “worry soup,” an amalgam of all my concerns and fears, all poured into the stockpot of my unconscious mind, and set to bubbling in my sleep.

Surprisingly enough after last night, I’ve felt rested today.  I spent the morning quietly, drinking coffee, sitting on the lanai doing some writing, taking a long bike ride before lunch.   Jim arrived this afternoon,so I’m no longer alone.  The four of us enjoyed a good dinner on the lanai and sat around talking in the cool evening air.

And now its late once again…the king sized pillowtop beckons. 

What dreams will come tonight?

I wonder.

How about you?  What are your dreams (or nightmares) telling you?





7 thoughts on “Dreaming the Night Away

  1. I almost never have dreams that I remember, but when I do, they are often disturbing, but not as bad as yours. I find it interesting that your blog friend’s research indicates that depressed people dream more. Perhaps that explains why I dream so seldom. Next time I do dream, I’ll have to assess the mood of the previous days.

  2. My dreams are usually neither pleasant or scary. Usually they’re just “busy”. I did have a recurring dream once many years ago…and sure enough it stopped when I resolved the issue. Also, my dreams are seldom in color…any color. Instead, the “images” are more like thoughts. You’ve certainly got me to thinking about this! And…I always had thought that dreams happened when you were in deep REM. Seeing as though I don’t dream that much, I’m glad to hear it’s the opposite. I was beginning to think that I wasn’t getting much rest by not dreaming 🙂

  3. I’m glad your question was more about my dreams than along the lines of “What do you think that dream means?” I think you are close to the point when you mention the stresses and worries you have had in your life lately. Not to be too Freudian/analytical about it, the sense of the post about your dilemma with your mother-in-law was that there was a “gun to your head” to make a decision soon, in a way. Ooops— not what you asked! My dreamlife recently is busy, I know. I have a sense of lots of “chapters” having run during the night, and many characters involved, but only fragmentary details remaining when I wake. They are busy dreams, as my life has been lately. I’ve had periods in my life when my dreams have been of huge importance to me, and I worked with them in a more Jungian way – viewing each person/ object in the dream as an aspect of the self.

    Hope you get a restful night tonight, and if not that your dreams are helpful to you.

  4. Quite a dream you had! I appreciated the bit about your friend’s dream book and the relationship between dreaming and depression. Judging by the amount I dream (and the resulting state of constantly feeling tired and worn out) I must have a boatload of needs which are currently going unmet. Better get cracking to mend those fences and restore my sleep 🙂

    I hope you’ll all enjoy your time together.

    (BTW, the blog author says “It’s called Dreaming Reality and it’s by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell.” in the final comment to that post.)

  5. I don’t remember most of my dreams due to the drugs but my early morning dreams are vivid. When I’m feeling disconnected to Dave I always have a dream about my ex husband making me feel bad. Sigmund would love that! Thank God for my als drugs.

    You really dream vivid…green suit? wow

    Sweet dreams! xxoo

  6. “worry soup”

    Descriptive name for it. I call them mind monsters.

    I’ve always had vivid and colorful nightmares. I used to remember them in great detail, and they were quite replete with detail. Since we moved in with Dad, I rarely recall my dreams, and I only seem to grasp fleeting snatches when I do recall anything at all.

    As for your dream, methinks Greenishlady is on to something. Cleaver lady, what.

  7. Hi Becca – I’ve been meaning to drop by to give you the book reference. I should have included it in the post, but I didn’t realise so many bloggers would be interested in it! It’s called Dreaming Reality and it’s by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell and I can certainly recommend it. I’ve read a lot of books about dreaming and this is the most striking argument I’ve heard. But dreams do process emotional and mental material, so there should be no reason why, when their work is done, you don’t sleep peacefully and contentedly again.

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