Do you ever remember your dreams? I’m one of those people who has vivid dreams more or less every night. In the morning, I wake up with images and recollections of my dreams that quickly take me back down the rabbit hole of the story. Even after my mind has acclimated to the day, I always have parts of these dreams that stick with me well into my waking hours.
I’ve had dreams that were so real and wonderful that I never wanted to wake up and dreams that felt like torment, especially as the terror followed me out of the dream and into a waking panic.
Being a vivid dreamer can be such a blessing and a curse. I think that dreams can have a very restorative and healing power, but I also know the gasping, choking, screaming sensation of trying to wake up from a lucid dream that can haunt you for months and even years. I’ve only had sleep paralysis a handful of times, but once is enough for a lifetime. I was only able to watch a few minutes of the documentary The Nightmare because of the palpable fear it struck within me. The most accurate way to describe how my sleep paralysis dreams have felt is a literal fight for life.
I’ve been thinking about my dreams a lot this week because it seems like the volume has been turned up on them lately. I used to keep a dream journal and was encouraged to start one up again. I’m a little nervous to dive any deeper into my brain’s strange night life, but I’m excited to see if the dreams might be something I can learn from. A wise person reminded me that in some cultures, having vivid dream recollection is seen as a gift because of the insight and wisdom that can be taken from the dream world and put into our own. I was also exposed to the idea that perhaps certain dreams that I’ve had were actually meant for someone else who I might be able to help by sharing it with them.
I won’t lie, part of me does feel like it is a gift to experience so much through dreaming. There is a certain magic quality to dreams. People, places, and things in my dreams always seem so much more exotic and exciting than in real life. I’m often in places that I’ve never imaged going and with a sense of freedom I hardly ever have in my waking hours. Also, sometimes in my dreams I’m a much better version of myself and capable of doing and saying things I feel disempowered to tackle in real life.
In fact, the hardest dreams to wake up from are these kinds of wish fulfillment dreams. I’m not sure what purpose these dreams have because, inevitably, waking up from them hurts. I’ve had dreams that I masterfully confronted someone I was scared of that only served to remind me how powerless I felt. Especially waking up and realizing that I am not the person of my dreams.
Some of these wish fulfillment dreams are downright crushing. I had a particularly moving dream in which I sat and spoke with my grandmother who passed many years ago. Waking up from that dream felt cold. It was almost cruel to have to remember all over again that she’s not here anymore. I still get choked up thinking about how real it felt to sit and talk with her, maybe it’s a blessing I even had those few minutes where she was back with me. A far more common wish fulfillment dream is hearing things from people that I’ve always wanted to hear them say. Before I got engaged, I had countless dreams about my fiance proposing to me. Some were awkward or just a little off, but they were all enjoyable and left me feeling only somewhat sad upon waking to realize it was all in my head.
During times of change and turmoil, I tend to have the most vivid dreams, and often times I carry anxiety and fear into my life from my dreams. I recently had a dream that I was working in the White House and was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump in a completely desolate white marble hallways where the only sound or energy was my panic. I know many of us feel personally assaulted by Donald Trump, but the feeling of him touching me is one I’d like to forget.
Countless other nightmares have plagued me throughout my life. I have a handful of recurring dreams, one particularly sinister and frightening one involving being caught in a tornado. I’ve had this dream for as long as I can remember. It takes place in a different setting each time, and the only constant variable is the sheer panic of seeing the whipping winds and crushing vortex of the tornado moving closing towards me. No matter where I am, I always feel helpless to escape.
These kinds of nightmares have been part of my reality for a long time. One of the first dreams I remember is a fever dream I had when I was a little kid, maybe 5 or 6. It gave me such terrible anxiety that even thinking of it now puts a pit in my stomach. It’s odd how these especially emotional or frightening dreams have a way of working themselves into your life.
For people who have conscious recollections of the time they spend in the dream world, there is a strange quality when your mind blurs the line between dreams and realities. There’s that almost other worldly feeling I get when my conscious mind gets called back to the dream world. I even have a host of images and memories that are hard to distinguish as dreams or reality. For this and many other reasons, dreams are something I’d like to start blogging about more. I think I’d benefit from the opportunity to share and process these experiences, and maybe it will even be a good way to kickstart my dream journaling. At some point, I intend to join or start a dream circle and really connect with others over the power of our dreams, but until then, I will look forward to the process of learning more about what my dreams reveal.