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Sifting through dreams

First-Person

Posted: July 20, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 20, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

In times of stress, my dreams become bizarre.

Dreams were abundant, quite warped and twisted, in one very unhappy period of my life surely indicative of a muddled mind that needed sorting out.

A recurring dream for half my life was of going upstairs but not being able to come down – the stairs had collapsed, as though I was in a bombed-out building.

I was 18 when I dreamed of being threatened with an open pair of scissors, my attacker intent on stabbing me and slashing the beautiful bridesmaid’s dress that I would be wearing the next day at my brother’s wedding.

In my early days of hardship as a young married immigrant, I often dreamed of living in a house that resembled an old falling-down barn in the middle of a wasteland.

The filthy couch resembled those you’d see discarded in a city dump. The wooden chairs looked as though they had been out in the rain and scorching sun for many years.

The rooms were dirty, the cupboard doors hung off their rusty hinges and the drawers were open and overflowing with junk.

It was a house that would make even Ma and Pa Kettle ashamed. I’d wake up crying.

I still remember one really awful nightmare when two men were chasing me down the street intent on killing me.

I managed to get home and lock the door. They broke it down.

I locked myself in the bathroom and as they pounded down that door; I knew I was trapped and would die.

As I turned to face them, terror-stricken, I realized this was a nightmare and woke myself up.

In such dire circumstances, I had suddenly found the power over my subconscious.

After my first husband left me, I dreamed of a huge python curled up on the floor of my closet, under the empty racks where his clothes had hung.

Strangely, I was not afraid of it, though I had grown up terrified of all animals.

I knew that I had to remove it before it harmed my children.

I got a broomstick and picked it up; it slithered off as I cautiously walked it through the house.

It slithered off four times before I was able to throw it out.

Why four? Well, it probably represented my four children.

I began reading a lot on the subject, particularly “Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.” As I understood more, my fears turned to courage.

I experimented by concentrating on a problem just before going to sleep. I would wake up in the morning with a solution, or a plan that would lead to a solution.

Now, most of my dreams – or those that I remember – are usually about recent events.

Many years of my childhood had been spent away from my mother, either in the hospital or evacuated during the World War II.

We did not have a close relationship – certainly not what I had with my wartime foster mother.

So, one of my happiest dreams occurred many years after her death. She had died in England in 1957 and this dream took place twenty years later.

My mother had never been to California but somehow she knew where to find me. What a pleasant surprise when she arrived on my doorstep, smiling and happy.

I was very glad to see her. We made ourselves comfortable while we drank coffee.

Now my mother only ever drank hot, strong, sweet tea: the national drink of my country. We had a lovely visit.

I don’t understand parapsychology, but to me her visit was as real as though she had actually broken through the ectoplasm and sat with me – the animosity that existed had vanished in that dream.

Did she appear? Or was it only a dream? But it doesn’t matter, it made me very happy.

I’ve never dreamed of her since, although I’d love to.

I believe that dreams can be very useful; they solve problems, can be happy or sad and usually relate to an inner conflict or experience.

What I have learned is: A dream is like a theater performance but with a big difference.

The dreamer is the author, plays all the parts, is the director and stage manager, designs the props and even controls the ending.

Looked at that way, you’d say that dreams are a figment of my imagination. So be it!

What I have yet to figure out is: Why did I dream of a snake in my closet?

Does my subconscious go way back through the centuries to biblical times and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden?

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