Wednesday, December 3, 2008


When I was a child, my dreams were often filled with terror. I have looked closely at the content of those dreams in therapy, and they are fairly obvious. I was always being chased by some kind of bully. I was never really bullied by other children. It was only in my dreams and the bullies were never children. They were not always male, in fact, often female. Even as a child I knew who those bullies represented. But only in my dreams was it so clear that they were out to kill me. But once I left home at seventeen, those dreams ended. Case closed. Yes, my parents could still make my life hell in one way or another, but I was no longer dependent on them, and so they could no longer kill me in quite the same way. And it was in this period of my life that I began to try to kill myself, and not in my dreams, but in real life, in real ways--nothing passive about it. As you can see I failed.

But in my adult life, no matter how awful certain periods of that adult life was, my dreams were my refuge. Because my early life was so intensely bad, and yet looked so good from the outside, my distress was not noticed by anyone who could or would have been able to help me. So I grew up crazy but looked quite sane. And into my early twenties (for the most part) I kept my mouth shut about the early family abuse. It took the suicide of my favorite cousin to shake the truth out, to spill my guts and confront both my parents. My father disowned me, and his father disowned me, so I was written out of their wills and never spoken to again. My mother put her fingers in her ears and screamed lalalalala as loud as she could and ran from the room, metaphorically speaking.

During this part of my life I began to succumb to long episodes of depression. Sleep became my best friend. Because in sleep I dreamed a lovely life. Or an interesting life that might be disturbingly strange, but not frightening. I had recurring dreams of my ability to jump free of gravity and float and fly. These were euphoric dreams of such joyous freedom. During the waning days of my third marriage, I dreamed repeatedly that I would get on a plane as a passenger to find that in reality I was the pilot and the runway was a city street. And in every one of these strange dreams, I was successful at dodging cars and threading the electrical lines that crisscrossed city streets and take off to eventually land under similar circumstances.

I've had the baby dreams. I dreamed of the NFL Baby Farm run by Rosie Greer. I dreamed I went to the grocery store and they were having a special on babies--two for the price of one. What a deal. I got one of each, and they were wrapped in newspaper like a bouquet of flowers then placed in a large grocery bag. I carried my groceries to my car, placed all my purchases in the trunk like always, slammed the trunk shut and drove home. Once at home I placed the babies on the floor, left them kitty kibble and water and went to work. I dreamed I gave birth to a litter of puppies. And so on. I think lots of women have strange baby dreams. I'd bet men do not.

And so my dream life went on until I had my bout with a major psychosis. The hallucinating kind. The kind of event even I could not ignore. I called 911 on myself and after two weeks in the looney bin I came out feeling lobotomized by the antipsychotic drugs and all dreaming ended. For many years. Oh perhaps I did dream, but could not ever remember the experience. I felt cut off from my subconscious self. Sleep was a black hole I fell into. I did not wake refreshed, and never woke delighted with the workings of my sleeping mind.

But as I stabilize these days, post Maggy's death, my dream life is returning. And I awoke from a dream of such loveliness this morning I was sad to have to wake up. My bladder was the culprit in ending this dream. But the gist of the dream was that I was helping a friend who was a wedding planner. We had an appointment with a client who lived in a castle--not the fairy tale kind, but the house as big as a large city kind. And this dream location was in Denver. I've lived in Denver, so I know this wasn't the Denver of reality. I'd call this house style Tudor, but do not think English castle, think big country mansion the size of a large town. I expected the clients to be asses, as I have a prejudice against the very rich (my father's parents were rich as were all their friends--a thoroughly awful bunch of snobs) so I was very surprised to find that every person I met (all family members of the one to be married) were not only charming, but desirable as well, gender had nothing to do with it. And they seemed to want to adopt me. This is where the full bladder ends the dream. But the melody lingers on.


Comrade Kevin said...


I used to have the exact same dreams for a very similar reason when I was a child, except they passed over to my waking life. I would feel as though I need to run and escape some evil force---these feelings would wash over me unexpectedly and then subside.

I know now these were both symptoms of PTSD.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes my baby dreams are real. And very frightening.

Although, when I was pregnant with The Dancer, I dreamt I had a litter of kittens and woke to find my cat sleeping on my chest.

Very interesting post.

Utah Savage said...

I'm hoping some men will read this and tell us if baby dreams are as common for them as they are for women. It seems the litter of kittens or puppies is a universal for women, pregnant or not.

Kulkuri said...

I've never had baby dreams or ones about having litters of kittens or puppies. Some dreams are strange and some are not, but never had dreams about birthing babies.

MRMacrum said...

Never dreamed of having babies of any kind that I can remember. A dream like that might just kill a man. You ladies are way better equipped to handle that kind of thing. And I do not mean physically.

an average patriot said...

Utah I am telling you, you are good! Very descriptive!
Listening to that music I was swooning over mt love for jazz but when I hear good Blues that is my genre! Oh I am so easy well in some things!

Randal Graves said...

Speaking as a dude, I can't say I've ever had a baby dream, but then again, I rarely dream the stereotypical male dreams of sexual conquest either. That IS what we're supposed to dream about, right? They're usually nonthreatening and very odd or sadly, only vaguely romantic.

kathleenmaher said...

"My mother put her fingers in her ears and screamed lalalalala as loud as she could and ran from the room, metaphorically speaking."

I love that sentence! Does anyone have a mother who never does that? Wait. I'm a mother. But I do not do that, more the opposite. Maybe it's what most mothers do. I was never like most mothers.

You write so clearly here about yourself, so relieved of self-consciousness or selfishness. It's beautiful and rare. Most writers can't do it. But the dreams prove your pure intention. Because a good editor can temper a writer's tone or inject a bit of objectivity into written memories. But not dreams! Dreams by definition have no conscious mind factoring in what's interesting or original or represents me well. Dreams are the acid test: you're writing for others first, yourself a distant second.

Utah Savage said...

Kathleen you just made me cry. It is such a relief to know that you have really connected with another person who gets it. Who hears you "voice" and hears its truth. You took my breath away, left me gasping. I have no one physically close to me with whom I can share my very personal self. This is part choice and part reaction to having been treated so badly. I have "trust issues" and they aren't just with men. So, I isolate myself. And if I have any family at all it is you, those of you who stop for a moment and say hi, or I get it, or something loving or insightful. So I think this dream this morning is about this metaphorical house. The mansion that is you. All of you are the lovely people in this dream. You are attractive and loving and seem to see me as someone who you might like to be related to. Thus the feeling of inclusion and attraction. It's as close as I get to love. And it takes my breath away.

simstone said...

I have never had a birthing dream either ... there is no time ... I am usually in a storm or fighting something.

Judging from some of your more recent writings I still think that your last dream is your continuing search for acceptance by those that will unconditionally accept you for you.

Utah Savage said...

In most dream analysis the house in a dream is the dreamer. As are all the people in the dream. That's the part I have trouble with.

simstone said...

All right, Utah, let's go with this ... all of those people that you see in your dream are all of the different aspects of yourself that you are hoping that people will come to love and accept. This is based on what I have read in your writings.

One of the key ideas behind dream interpretation is not what the dream books say because they do not know YOU. What you have to decipher is what does that image or symbol MEAN PERSONALLY TO ME? The dream books can only give you generalities of meanings.

Ingrid said...

Dreams. I took melatonin for just two months and just finished. After a few years of sleep deprivation, I really REALLY appreciated the melatonin induced dreams. Dreams are a way of processing as you mentioned, and psychologically, we need them. So I am glad that you are dreaming again. Of all the things to be deprived from, dreams shouldn't be one of them, your brain needs it..

wow..having to catch up some, very thoughtful and thought provoking..