In dreams: “It’s for Jesus!”

I keep thinking I should start a new weekly feature here on Mrs Metaphor called, “things my weird subconscious tells me at night.”

About once a week I wake up remembering what I’ve dreamt. Nine times out of ten that dream fades within a few hours but sometimes it stays with me. Sometimes the dream is so real, so tangible I have to talk about it because it bothers me all day, like getting a splinter and feeling it there under the skin. Writing about it or telling about it acts as a pair of tweezers pulling out the sliver.

Last night I dreamt I was headed to Liturgy (the Orthodox Sunday church service) and found that it was not occurring. Like everything in dreams things suddenly shifted, like scenes from Inception with doorways becoming walls and walls becoming streets. I found myself in another place, walking into what my memory told me was a church I attended 20 years ago except that it didn’t look at all like the right building.  But, I accepted it, like you do in dreams, and I entered into the aged brownstone building, walked up a flight of unfamiliar stairs and through a set of wide doors into the sanctuary, which was more like a theater.

I chose a seat near the back, under the balcony seats and someone handed me a “program.” It was printed on lime green paper, laminated and fastened together with a single small binder ring. I paged through it quickly as the music started but did not get far before the first “act” came out. This church service apparently was pretty cutting edge because the opening of the service entailed a group of performers, midgets, who would shoot themselves out of a cannon placed in the balcony. All I could see from my seat after the boom of the cannon was a short person in a bright red or blue costume, sailing through the air and rolling to a stop on the stage. The people around me went crazy for it and I wondered if I was in church after all. When I turned to ask my neighbor, a heavy-set, well dressed young woman she smiled and said, “It’s for Jesus!”

After a few minutes of this I looked a little more deeply at the lime green laminated “program” and saw the line up for the rest of the church service. There would be three rock bands, an acoustic set and a poetry reading by a number of community members. Each poet had a number after his or her name indicated the number of poems they would be reading. The third name down listed (25) as the number of poems she meant to read. At that, I stood up to leave but the woman next to me put her hand on my arm, “No, don’t go!” she said, “there’s so much more!” I shook my head and said this wasn’t really my thing and that I had to go but she still tried to talk me out of leaving. “It’s for Jesus!” she said again. I finally broke away as quietly as I could and began to make my way out of the auditorium.

When I reached the staircase outside I felt relief and I stepped out the door into what had become a cloudy, overcast day. Raindrops hit my face as I remembered that I’d left my raincoat inside on my seat. And then I woke up.

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And dream of waffles…

I have these crazy anxiety inspired dreams sometimes. They come whenever I find myself in an emotional clearing in the woods. After a long couple of months of emotional ups and downs, conferences, workshops, projects kicking up, projects winding down, kids puking and people visiting, this weekend is the first open space in my schedule. No place to go, nothing to do.
I probably should have expected that my unconscious would choose last night to fire off the free floating angst I’ve been stuffing away for the last 8 weeks.

I dreamt I was in a grocery store with my daughter and I was making waffles. I was making really amazing waffles. The belgian waffle maker was placed on the floor near an inflatable mattress. Riley and I had slept on that mattress the night before, it seems. I was groggy, well in need of a shower and a cup of coffee and I was wearing a poofy skirt that was much poofy-er on than it looked on the hanger moments earlier. Somewhere in my dream I knew that my husband had 2 of my sons with him on a trip but I was struck with panic when I remembered that my middle son, Henry didn’t know where Riley and I had gone and that he had been home alone all night.

In my waking hours I develop a story that we were trapped in the store, that I had not intended to leave Henry home by himself but in the dream I was just panicked. I looked for my phone and could not find it. The waffle maker burned a hole in the inflatable mattress as I watched. The waffles burned to a crisp. The customers were entering the store and I had no idea what to do. In the dream I felt as though I could not get air into my lungs, they deflated like the air mattress against the hot waffle maker. I looked for Riley but could not see her. I asked store employees to help me but they were all busy. I grabbed random customers to help me find my phone and just as I reached my breaking point I saw Henry, sitting on a counter, playing a game on my phone.

I grabbed him and hugged him close. “Are you alright? Were you scared by yourself at home?” He shrugged and then handed my phone to me. “Yes. I tried to call you a lot of times.” I looked at the phone and saw that he had called 53 times. My “parental confidence” shrank to nothing and I apologized over and over.

Then I woke up.

This morning I told Henry about my dream. I harbored an awful lot of guilt for a person who did not actually leave her 9 yr old son home alone in real life overnight in favor of burnt waffles. He thought the dream was funny and frightening. I just thought it was frightening.

I have these angst ridden, guilt dreams more than I care to count, I guess. They almost always involve me leaving a child somewhere, forgetting someone important or missing some big event. It’s possible that dreaming is just a random firing of unconnected thoughts, unexpressed desires or simply showing our anxiety-ridden slip, so to speak. It’s possible that dreams mean nothing, that we should be able to laugh and shake off nightmares, pizza dreams, poignant images that come to us in the night.

But I pay attention to the dreams I cannot shake the next day. The ones I cannot shake always seem to be the ones in which I am failing as a parent, the ones in which I have made a terrible error where my kids are concerned. Maybe it’s important for me to wear those around a little, to not shake that free of my pajamas so quickly. Maybe letting my unconscious have a voice in the night is precisely the cure for the anxiety I carry around during the day.

Keeping anxiety and fear locked up in my skin cells means it cannot help but come out through my pores. Dreaming is the purge. Giving the anxiety a moment in me during the day is important then; a moment where I admit that life is difficult and dangerous, parenting is difficult and dangerous, breathing is difficult and dangerous. Admitting this, knowing this, I come then to the conclusion that overall, this difficulty and danger is more than worthwhile, it is vital. It is the reason we get out of bed in the morning after a rough night, a rough week, a rough couple of months. In the end, the point of anxiety dreams isn’t to make me feel guilty when I wake up but simply to bring what is unspoken but felt into the realm of waking life.

The reality is that we’re all ok- Henry didn’t spend the night by himself, Riley isn’t lost in a supermarket, the waffles are not burnt and the mattress still has air. As those dreamt images cling to my clothing today though they do remind me that I am afraid and that I want to do this well and it reminds me to pay attention, to keep track of my self, to listen to my children and to never place the waffle maker close to an air mattress.

jump…

I dreamt last night that I was living this carefree life…running across a college campus with some friends, grabbing seemingly free food from a tray that was placed before me as I ran and then following someone up a flight of stairs.

We were a joyful, freedom coalition, in pursuit of something intangible. I only knew that we were after something and it felt good to run.

We ran up the steps of a building and emerged on a second floor balcony. It was made of stone. I can almost feel the cold rough stone railing on my palms even now.

The woman in front of me was the leader. She told me that she was going next to get some coffee and climbed up on the railing. She said, “We have to jump” and then she did. She was catlike in her jump, landing with grace and without injury.

I looked down and was paralyzed. She stood below me and said, “Jump.” I began to climb up on the railing, knowing there were others behind me and I needed to make a decision but I did not want to jump.

I decided instead to climb down the tree next to the balcony. A man was sitting in that tree. He looked a lot like Carlos Santana. I think he was eating a sandwhich. He shook his head. “That’s not going to work” he said.

I reached the first branch and held the tree in a deathgrip. Below the first set of branches it was all smooth below, no knots, no branches, no footholds, no handnooks.

I was in a dilemma, you see. If I had stayed on the balcony I could have taken the stairs down. It was too late for that now. If I had jumped as my leader had jumped I might have had a chance at a good landing. It was not so certain now.

Now, instead of jumping I was more likely to fall.

I woke up before the fall. I’ve been unnerved all morning because I think dreams really do have something to tell us.

Where am I meant to jump?
What am I clinging to in an attempt to avoid pain?
Why am I so motivated by free food and coffee?

Points to ponder today, fellow travelers, points to ponder.