The Meaning of Dreams

In a dream I have almost once a month, my mother did not commit suicide 25 years ago, but has in fact, been living her life somewhere else. In this dream, someone tips me off, and I track her down in what appears to be a rather lively apartment community. Someone sets-up a phone call for us, and she is completely non-plussed and not very happy that she has been discovered. I have yearned to hear her voice and she doesn’t seem to be fazed one way or the other to be hearing mine. She has no excuse for pretending to be dead. It seems like she just wanted to be leading a different life where she never thought she’d be discovered.

In these dreams she hasn’t sold the apartment where she was found dead and the door has been left unlocked. It’s rather large, much bigger than it is in reality. I beg my siblings to keep it so that we all have a place to stay when we come to New York. They decide to sell it. Maybe the message to me should be obvious: LET GO.

In another never-ending series, I host monthly parties at my house. A postcard has gone out in a mass mailing at the beginning of the year with a calendar and time of these, more like an open house, that start at 2:00 and go until an undetermined time. They take place in the house that I grew up in and generally, they are a total failure. I’ve forgotten the dates on the postcard so a smattering of very disparate people will show up, see that there’s no booze, notice that I only have one cd made, and leave while the afternoon sun is still shining.

In another version of this, I’m hosting a dinner party and I’ve gotten one chicken for 10 people or 2 bottles of wine for 20. I leave my house to go shopping (usually to a Whole Foods) where the shelves are empty. I come back and find friends in my kitchen, cooking what they can find in my cabinets, the table set. I feel like an utter failure and my guests are too stunned into silence to even look me in the eye.

In my dreams I’m on planes that are as big as shopping malls with movie theaters and newsstands. These planes never take off but cruise around neighborhoods or hover very closely to the ground. Oftentimes, as we get close to an airport to attempt a takeoff, a plane crashes inches away from ours.

Perhaps the most pervasive dream, and this has been for YEARS, is what I call my “stuff” dream. Nothing has caused me more frustration in my sleep (except for those dreams where I can’t dial the phone, my fingers being too clumsy for the push-buttons).

It has several different versions but it started out as this: It is the last day of summer camp and it takes me hours to pack my father’s rented car. My brother formulates a packing diagram and I am forced to choose things to leave behind. One of the bunks contains what appears to be my own personal library, shelves and shelves of books. I choose the ones I want leaving HUNDREDS behind. In a different room there are racks of clothing, apparently my rather extensive wardrobe of clothes that I have never seen before. Somehow, the owners of the camp decide to let me leave the books and clothes there all winter, on the promise that I would clear everything out before the next summer season.

More recently the dream has morphed into this: I am in a train station, a couple of flights up from the tracks with duffel bags, totes, suitcases and my favorite pillow. As the departure time of my train gets closer, I start taking my bags down to the platform, dragging as many as I can carry at a time. I hear the train squealing into the station, put what I can on the train, but have to make one more trip to get the last of my “stuff.” I have five minutes to go up to wherever I’ve been waiting to make it back down to the train. Not ONCE have I made it, and instead, watch the train pull away with my bags and piles and heaps of stuff, heading on its journey without me on it. (I’ve had this exact same dream with buses but sometimes, I DO make it on the bus.)

Within these dreams are threads of letting go and relinquishing control. There are things that I hate about myself, the way I’ve moved about my life with useless crap that has weighed me down. I clearly fear, especially within these party scenarios, that I am constantly letting people down, never living up to what is expected of me.

However, the most acutely painful of these dreams is in thinking that my mother wouldn’t want to know me now, wouldn’t break down in tears upon hearing my voice, wouldn’t ask questions about her granddaughter or my life. I guess it’s pretty obvious. The thought that she opted out of my life, when she ended hers, makes me feel insignificant, not good enough to have stayed alive for. In reality, I DON”T feel that way, and I know that that is the argument is for why suicide is such a selfish act. I’m not sure what else this dream is trying to tell me. Any suggestions?

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2 Comments

  1. How about something as simple as you miss your mom??

  2. Yeah, I think it's a combination of miss your mom and a subconscious worry that she didn't care. Because of all the people I know who have contemplated or attempted suicide, those who have had children have told me that part of the reason they want to do it is BECAUSE they love their kids, and they think they would be better off without them. That pretty much erased any thought I had of suicide being a selfish act.

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