January 10, 2012

Dreams

Is anyone else fascinated by dreams and how our minds process our lives throughout the night?

Each morning when I was young, I'd come into the kitchen and Mom would ask me, "What did you dream?" In order to have an answer, I started trying to trace the threads of my dreams as I woke up. Over time, apparently, this is how one trains to become a lucid dreamer. I became aware of what I was dreaming as it happened. Eventually, my semi-conscious mind was able to argue with my sub-conscious.

After my Mom died, whenever she showed up in my dreams, my dream self would argue with her, "You can't be here, you're dead!" We'd actually end up going back and forth and negotiate the terms of her presence in the dream. Over the years I had a few dreams where she'd show up, still in her cancer body with a little skull cap on her head. I no longer had the active shove when she showed up, instead it would gradually dawn on me that she shouldn't be there. At that point in the dream she'd usually say something like, "I know you thought I died, but I've been here all along." Which usually made me really mad, "What?! You mean I'm going to have to grieve your loss AGAIN?!!"

While we were living in California, must have been three years ago now (so 12 years after her death), for the first time she showed up in a dream looking like she was in her 30's. Longish red-brown hair, no glasses, vibrant, healthy and very alive. In the dream I was busily cleaning the house or doing something very agenda driven. She kept trying to get me to stop and talk with her and I kept saying I was busy and she'd need to come back a different time. She finally said, really emphatically, "We only have a little time left. Stop. I have to talk to you." I stopped.

She brought out a long, narrow jewelry case, blue velvet, and gave it to me. As I opened it, she continued, "I've wanted to tell you for a long time how proud I am of you. You've fought for your marriage, you've been really patient and loving with Jrex (mostly), you've made a good life. I'm proud to be your mother and wanted you to have this. We won't have any more time together so I wanted you to know how much I love you." It was a beautiful necklace. When I looked up, she was gone.

I haven't dreamed of her since.

I have no philosophy of dreams. I'm not sure of my theology around them. Most of them feel like random firings based on events of the day. Every so often there are some, like that one, that feel 'real', feel significant and weighty. In the Bible there are many people who have significant dreams. Joseph was told not to divorce Mary in a dream. He was told to flee to Egypt in a different dream. In my life, there have been four or five life-changing dreams. Each felt like an amazing gift. Three happened on my journey out of fear, each marked a juncture where certain fears were conquered (and subsequently didn't have the same power over me in real life either).

On a more humorous level were the dreams while Jrex and I were dating. We'd known each other briefly during college and started dating long-distance. As he became more and more important to me emotionally, he started showing up in my dreams. Except my sub-conscious mind didn't have a template for an Asian man. Seriously. Sometimes he'd be an old white guy, sometimes a young guy, on rare occasions even a woman. In the dream world, there was often an announcement feeling, "This is Jrex for now, ok?" I'd shrug and go along with it. It really felt like my brain just grabbed the first 'skin' it found. None repeated, none felt like a substitute, just a template for the sake of working through any emotional scenarios. Once I moved to the same city and started seeing him often, he began to have his own skin on in my dreams. (MUCH better, I must say)

All this is to say, I haven't yet dreamed about Brex. I can't figure out why not. My main theory is that he's not doing anything that requires an untangling by my brain. No emotional stressors or complicated feeling. Sure it's hard when he's crying, but it's usually a fairly logical deduction to find a reason why and solve the problem. The other possibility is that I'm not getting deep enough sleep and therefore having 'shallower' dreams in general.

Is anyone else a lucid dreamer? Do you rarely remember even having any dreams? (if not, do you have a theory why not? I find that as interesting as the content of a dream.) Do most mothers dream about their children? (I would imagine the answer is yes?)

8 comments:

NGS said...

I have a lot of nightmares. Obviously, a lot of it stems from feelings of powerlessness I feel in my day to day life, but I'm working on that.

When I was engaged, I used to have this horrifying dream that my now husband died and since we weren't married yet, his family cut me off. In the dream, I had to sneak in the back of the church to go to the funeral service and when his mom and grandma looked at me, it was like I was invisible. I must have had this dream once or twice a week in the six months prior to our engagement. Ugh. Talk about feeling powerless.

P.S. My inlaws are fabulous folks and they would never do anything like that!

OTR sister said...

Your dream about Mom sounds wonderful, I don't know if I've heard that story. It's also sweetly ironic that she was the Mary to your Martha.

I have stress dreams, usually connected to work. And occasionally I have anger dreams toward people I didn't recognize I was angry with in my waking life. Dreams can be a helpful therapist, I guess.

I'm not as good at remembering details of my dreams as I used to be, but right now, I can't recall a dream I've had about my kids. Maybe I'll have to pay more attention.

Aimee said...

I have dreams similar to yours. When I have dreamed about family members who have died, my brain argues with the dreaming part of me. I even told my deceased Aunt in a dream, "Do you know what they're saying about you? They're saying you're dead." And then we both laughed.

Another time, I dreamed about my deceased grandfather, and no lying, I could smell his cologne when I woke up. Most of the dreams I have about deceased loved ones are comforting to me.

I have always has vivid dreams and remember them clearly, but some dreams seem to be "God dreams." I have a journal and write them down. To me, not having dreams and remembering them is weird. I didn't know it was unusual to remember dreams until I was married and my husband couldn't remember dreaming anything.

Suzanne said...

The last dream you had of your mother was simply amazing. My father died fifteen years ago and because it was sudden and there was no chance to say goodbye, I had a difficult time getting over it.

Now my mother, who is 84, lives with me and the preciousness of her life is always with me.

I would love to have the opportunity to have the conversation you had with your mother, with my father. I suppose that that is why I now have it with my mother while she is alive.

Thank you for sharing this.

mizasiwa said...

I had a whole comment and I think blogger age it :-( i wanted to say that my husband controls his dreams and feels empowered by this which I think is awesome. I used to suffer from nightmares and often have dejavu of things i dreams about (often years later) but i always remember. Im kind of glad to not be dreaming at this point.
I love that picture!!!

Inkling said...

I love the fact that your mom's questions about your dreams helped you develop the skill of melding your conscious and subconscious mind. That is truly a gift. And I love the gift of a dream God gave you of your mom that last time. That was incredibly beautiful.

Thank you for sharing about the dreams of JRex. That was actually super helpful for me. I have these dreams of someone who is super in love with me on occasion, but he never looks like my husband though I'm certain in my dreaming heart that it's him. But I would wake up and feel guilty that my dream guy had the face of somebody else and not my actual husband. Maybe it's because we've been married only a handful of years. So there's hope.

The only dream I've had that was like a definite gift from God was the one about our home group leader coming to me after he died and telling me what amounted to, "I know it's not supposed to be like this. But it will be okay eventually." I thought of that very dream tonight as we were at his one year remembrance service and the relationships that were lost after he died were all around me but still not restored. It's like his dream has now become a promise I'm holding on to - that one day we will be okay and not still broken.

giftsofthejourney said...

I love the dreams you had about your mom. I have always had vivid dreams and I've been able to be lucid in them. I had a conversation with my uncle after he died that changed how I see heaven. I dreamed of John on my morning of 47th birthday four months before we met online. I definitely believe in the messages that come to me in my sleep.

otr mama said...

Been thinking about you lots and wanting to call; just now reading your blogs since Thanksgiving. I loved this one because your mom and I would so often talk about our dreams when we'd visit. We came to some funny (and true) conclusions. She once shared a dream about Dancing With The Lord and it seemed to me like that dream changed her life. I imagine you know that, but if not, ask me sometime. Brex is SO totally gorgeous. His Christmas picture got hung up right away!