Nightmares and Dreams

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

Telling your friends or family members that you are a witch or at least influenced by a spiritual bent can come with unintended outcomes. For example, I’ve become something of the go-to person for dream or nightmare interpretation. Even people I have not seen since March have texted me to tell me that they or somebody they knew were shaken by something they saw in their sleep and would like to know what I think about it.

So, what do I think about dreams?

I’ve said before that not everything we think or see has meaning. Sometimes, when we dream, there is a completely mundane, normal explanation for why our imagination conjured up specific images. Nightmares, in particular, can often be brought on by stress or anxiety, post traumatic stress, or even things like not getting enough sleep or dietary changes and habits. Certain medications we take can also affect what we see when we close our eyes at night. A few years ago, I took a medicine for my anxiety that caused vivid and terrifying nightmares. In fact, this side effect was common for those who were on it and particularly for those who discontinued the use of it. Withdrawals from any medication or even alcohol can contribute to strange dreams, but some substances may make them seem that much worse or frequent.

It is important to speak with your doctor or a professional if your dreams are interfering with your every day life. Sleep studies may help to uncover the root of the problem.

However, even for those who don’t have chronic nightmares or strange dreams, we can honestly say that there are times when our minds come up with dreams that can really linger. And it isn’t as if they have to be ‘bad’ or ‘strange’ to be profound. There are times you might dream about meeting your soul mate or falling in love with your best friend. Does this mean that you should start being on the look out for Mr. or Mrs. right or pursue a relationship? What about those dreams where you are pregnant or have a child? Could it be that it’s time to settle down, start a family? Or if you’ve already begun trying for one, is this a sign that it’s about to work out? Maybe it’s just as simple as meeting up with somebody you haven’t seen in a very long time. Should you then track this person down and contact them to reconnect?

It’s a complicated answer, but I’ll simplify it somewhat: A dream can mean anything you want it to mean. It can also have no meaning if that’s how you choose to look at it.

I once had a dream that I was in a relationship with Robert Pattinson (yes, the dude from Twilight). The reason this dream was strange was because I’m not particularly a Robert Pattinson fan. I don’t detest the actor and generally I classify him as a decent-to-good actor depending on his role (Seriously, don’t judge the guy by Twilight). But as far as aesthetics go, he doesn’t check off any of my preferences if I’m being honest except that he’s (probably) taller than me. Now, the reason I’m telling you this isn’t because I think that there’s some deep, hidden meaning in imagining myself with some guy I never met and will probably never meet. And sure, I suppose I could find some hidden message in there about broadening my preferences or giving people I never thought about a chance. But let’s be real: It probably had more to do with the fact that I’d discovered he was cast as Batman after reading an article from a comic book site just before I went to sleep.

But these aren’t the type of dreams that worry us. I easily forgot about that dream until just now. It’s the dreams that terrify us that REALLY stick with us. Though they may be few or far between, there are just some things you don’t forget. I remember one dream in particular when I was laying in my bed (in the dream), and as if I was looking at it from somebody else’s eyes, I saw a large, black zombie-like dog standing over me, teeth bared, growling softly. I was afraid to move because somehow, in my mind, I ascribed T-Rex logic to it… If I stayed still, I’d be all right. I had this dream years ago… I remember it vividly. One of the things that scared me most about it was that I’d heard that dreams of black dogs can foretell death (thanks Harry Potter). Afterward, my anxiety peaked and I had a solid period of time where panic attacks and feeling ill at ease became the new norm. Does that mean that the dream was telling me things were about to get more difficult for me? I mean I could easily say it was an omen for sure that my disorder which I’d been handling pretty well up to that point was about to be a problem again. But I could also just as easily say that I made the dream more than it was. That is, the dream was just a dream until I made it something bigger.

There are countless dream interpretation guides you can buy or find online. But one important thing to remember is that most of them will tell you that they are common dreams with common interpretations. The reality is, you are unique and thus the problems or reasons behind your dreams are also going to be specific to you. I get wanting to have an answer when your nightmares are haunting you, but the honest answer is the best person to interpret it is you. You know your situation better than anybody else, and so only you can really determine why you imagined what you did.

Now, if you’re afraid your nightmares are going to come true… That’s a different story. When I was a child, I had a dream that my brother lost his leg just below his knee. When I woke up, I discovered him on the couch, home early from the night shift he was working because he’d had an accident which caused his kneecap to break off, dislodging it in his thigh. My mother once had a dream her uncle passed away, and when she woke she got a call from his wife that he’d died in his sleep. There are countless anecdotes like this from a lot of people, but if you sit and think about it, is it often that this happens? For me that was one dream that I had twenty years ago, and the reason I remember it is because it wasn’t something that happened a lot. How many dreams have I had since then? That’s math I don’t even want to consider doing. All I’m saying is that while the coincidence is indeed strange, it isn’t typical.

A dream is what we make it, and nightmares follow that same rule. It’s okay to be shaken after having one, but don’t give them the power to rule you. Acknowledge the dream but then move on, and if you’re really afraid that your dream might come true, let me put your mind at ease by saying that it is extremely unlikely.

Unless you are an oracle, prophet, or something like that… In which case… I have some questions.

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