Wednesday, June 10, 2009

At least I'm not usually naked

I know I hide it really well, but I'm a fairly anxious person. I think this has always been reflected in my dreams. When I was a kid, I frequently dreamed about being behind the steering wheel in a moving car on a busy road. Sometimes I was alone, sometimes my little sister was with me, and it wasn't always the same road, but otherwise it was the same thing -- the car going faster and faster, up and down hills, and I was in a complete panic with no idea what to do. Sometimes I think I'd like to take the kids -- Angus especially -- out to the car, sit them behind the wheel, and at the very least show them the brake, so if they ever have this dream they can think 'no problem, I'll just hit the brake'. But it seems just a little too weird, even for me, to give my kids driving lessons for their future possible dreams.
Once I learned to drive, I didn't have that dream any more, which was a relief. The other dreams had less of a physical danger aspect and more of a farcical, wrong-place-wrong-time tone. Usually I was either getting married or having a baby, always without the attendant planning, with everything going horribly wrong and accompanied by a feeling of doom. I'd be walking down the aisle and realize I hadn't washed my hair, or that I'd forgotten to invite my father, or that I didn't even know the groom. The baby dreams were even worse, of course. I'm a good Catholic girl (well, a bad Catholic girl), and I was having a baby without being married (or having sex, for that matter, but that was less of a problem). Once I had the baby I had no idea what the hell to do with it, and I would invariably misplace it or drop it. Once I washed it in the sink and it dissolved like an ice cube and slid down the drain.
You don't have to be Freud to see that these dreams were indicating a lifelong (and really tedious) fear of being inadequate or unprepared for certain milestones. It wasn't a big deal. I already knew I was neurotic -- if anything I was just slightly chagrined that my subconscious chose such a glaringly obvious tactic for highlighting it. I preferred the wacky, impenetrable dreams -- the ones where I organized Cambodian refugees into a kick-ass motorcycle taxi service but then we had to band together to fight some weird burning monster made out of forks and wire, or when I was guiding a group of people to jump off a cliff into a river, but first I wrapped up a biscuit and some toothpaste in a handkerchief for each of them.
photo credit
creative commons license

So now that I have a driver's licence, and I've had a great wedding followed by a mostly happy, occasionally exhilarating, periodically cranky marriage, and I've had two kids and managed not to lose either one for more than a few (very bad) minutes, I figured: what's left? My dreams should be pretty safe now, right?
I guess the lesson would be something like 'never underestimate the power of your neuroses'. Now that all that stuff is over and doesn't scare me any more (much), I have a recurring dream that some faceless academic body has found a problem in my transcripts and I have to go back and make up some credits. In undergrad. Or (wait for it) high school. In order to keep my master's degree. Which I don't use and probably never will. And the dreams consist of me racing around not being able to find the right classroom, or suddenly realizing I've accidentally missed every lecture in a course all term, or just realizing that there's no place in residence for my kids to live. In other words, my nightmares don't revolve around monsters. They revolve around grades.

My subconscious is a total fucking bitch.

4 comments:

Amber said...

I have the same dreams. There I am, back in high school, but unable to find my classes. Or I realize I somehow skipped English for 3 months and now I will fail and my life will be ruined.

I also still have dreams that I overslept and missed an exam and now I will fail. My father-in-law told me he still has those dreams and he graduated from law school 32 years ago. Fun stuff!

alison said...

Yep, it's universal. I still occasionally dream I'm back in high school and I have to write the final exam in calculus and I haven't been to any of the classes, I don't know where the exam is being written and I'm dressed only in my underwear. Oh and in my misplace the baby dreams, I usually put the baby on the roof of the car while I load the diaper bag and purse into the front seat and then drive off with the baby on the roof. And I haven't touched a diaper bag in 5 years, so I don't know why these dreams are still showing up now and again.

Your Cambodian taxi service dream is pretty cool though.

NoisyBluebird said...

I've always had the car driving ones, especially where I'm driving uphill and the hill is like 90 degrees so it's almost impossible for the car to ever make it to the top. Now my dreams are mostly the bizarro type - like yours with the cambodian taxi service. They're really cool and appear to make absolutely so sense at all until I think about them for a few hours and then suddenly it all makes sense and is a perfect reflection of the crisis in my life. Yup even in my dreams I try to solve my problems the hard way. Sometimes I also have very violent dreams like I'm Jack Bauer. My husband lives in fear of the next time he wakes up to my hands around his throat. :)

edgeofthepage said...

oh, i totally have that one.