In every dream home a heartache

02Mar09

Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt Morieris

No man is an Iland, intire

of it selfe; every man is a

peece of the Continent, a

part of the maine; if a clod

bee washed away by the Sea,

Europe is the lesse, as well

as if a Promontorie were . . .

Any mans death diminshes

me because I am involved

in Mankinde. And therefore

never send to know for

whom the bell tolls; it tolls

for thee

John Donne

I have vivid dreams almost every night, the kind that are so credible that it comes as a surprise when you wake up and find it’s not real – sometimes to the extent that I’m totally disorientated until I’ve adjusted from one ‘reality’ to the other. For the most part, I attribute this to my overactive creativity, evidence that my muse is playing whilst my consciousness isn’t around to interfere or give her reality checks, and a number of these vivid, story-plot dreams have made it into short stories purely because they were *so* real and *so* coherent. And there’s a part of me that kind of believes that when I’m dreaming I’m actually connecting with other realities (universes?), with other (past?) lives and that what I experience *is* reality for the character through whom’s eyes I experience the dream. Of course, my rational, pragmatic self scoffs at such notions as fanciful, romantic, and superstitious nonsense. But I guess keeping myself on the fence helps me with the ‘what-if’ questions that feed into my writing.

Awesome plot dreams aside, I do have a number of recurring dreams. Two of them feature houses . . . one is pretty straightforward – I’m in my grandmother’s old house (the one she had before she moved into sheltered accomodation) and I’m looking for her. I smell her fragrance, I hear her voice, I experience the house in its physical actuality as if I were there, but I’m always alone. Sometimes, towards the end of the dream, I do get to see her again, and to talk to her, and I hate it when I wake up.

She died 5 years ago, and I still miss her.

The other dream is more complicated. It recurs, but with variations each time. I first started getting it when we were househunting after we’d had Honey, and at the time it seemed an obvious connection – looking for house, dream about house – and although it puzzled me that I *always* dreamt about the same house, and that I *always* woke up surprised and disorientated because *that* house was not *our* house in reality, I didn’t give it much thought.

It wasn’t until after we moved that I got a book by Suzy Chiazzari – “The Healing Home” and I read the chapter about ‘The Inner House’ that I started to make some connections between this recurring dream and my inner status. She said that we all have an ‘inner house’ and that by doing a creative visualisation of a house which reflects who you are, you can create a structure which allows you to reflect on your inner state and at different levels. The basement and foundations represent our early years and “it is in the basement that we hide our deep-seated fears and anxieties” and fears, the ground floor level our current state. The upper levels are “those parts of our nature that link to other people and to the outside world”. The attic and roof are the areas which reflect your need to grow and change, your intellect, your creativity, and your spiritual centre.

I guess as an analogy, it’s fairly self-evident, but until I came across it, it hadn’t occurred to me. But when I did come across it, I immediately related it to the dream I’d been having.

The dream started at a time of great change – we’d changed from being a couple to being a family, we’d outgrown our little 2-bed terrace, and we’d both suffered significant losses in major relationships with friends and/or family. Everything was up in the air.

So: the dream represented a search not just in literal terms for a new home, but also in subsconscious terms for a place where foundations could be laid and new emotional structure could be built.

The house itself was like an origami puzzle – a corner plot with a garden, nothing out of the ordinary to look at, but the internal angles never quite matched up with the external dimensions, as if each room had been subtly skewed to sit at an angle to the foundations. This is something I still haven’t quite figured out, but it made the layout surprising – in so far as it continually allowed for new rooms to be discovered where there shouldn’t (according to the external dimensions) be rooms at all. The best I’ve been able to come up with, in context, is that my internal life is bigger than it seems to be than when viewed from the outside.

When I first starting having the dreams, I was in a real crisis – both about my identity (I was going through the mill with PND and jumping through hoops of various diagnoses and treatment proposals – ranging from OCD to social phobia to manic depression to I don’t know what – before Asperger’s was identified (something I’d never even heard of up to that point). I’m still glad that my refusal to accept medication meant that they had to keep digging for cause rather than just masking the symptoms of PND & related oddities. Added to that, I didn’t want to go back into full-time employment because the demands of the job I was in (accountancy-finance-IT project management) meant a 60-hr week as standard, and it was tearing me apart – I hated handing my child into daycare, & I hated coming home too late to anything other than look in on a sleeping angel.

The dream reflected that turmoil. In it, I needed to get into the attic. To get there, I needed to worm my way through a secret passageway at the back of a chimney, clogged with dust and earth and soot. It was a tight, claustrophobic climb and it terrified me every time I had to make the journey, but I repeatedly clawed my way up to . . . the upper rooms of a tumbledown cottage overlooking the sea, in brilliant sunshine, with the breeze off the sea blowing in through the open window. Just glorious.

And so obvious now, looking back on it, that the dream represented both my need to break out of my current lifestyle and my fear of doing so in one neat psychological trick. When I made the decision to quit the dayjob and become a SAHM, that dream stopped. I still get that dream, and I still experience moments of terror when I have to go up to the attic. The difference is that now I can get up there on a rickety ladder or some old stairs, I don’t have to squirm through that constricting passageway to get there any more – and it’s always a relief. I take that as a good sign that I am moving in the direction of my dreams, but that I have a way to go to get there.

There’s an element of crossover in the Transactional Analysis model in the therapy I went through, which also used the idea of the basement as a representation of the ‘child’ state, the ground floor as the ‘now’ state and the upper level as the ‘adult’ state, which I think also has parallels and influences on the dream and my interpretations of it (and obviously on my inner state as well).

This comes out in later iterations of the dream – when I dreamt I was lost in my own house, and discovered a magical narrow room of many drawers, and each drawer held a different art or craft material – this came when I was struggling to get to grips with my creativity and to draw it into daily life, in terms of both my writing and the textile side.

I had the dream again last night, and it was different again. Still the same house, that established by the external view of the triangular (???) house on its (definitely) triangular corner plot, and then by the internal view and the same surprise room that I know is there but always forget about until I see it (haven’t figured that bit out in full yet). Only this time, and for the first time, I went upstairs and into the rooms on the middle floor – I thought we were going to the attic and experienced the terror/relief of the anticipation of chimney scramble/thank goodness there are stairs up there now phenomenon, but I was suprised that instead we went into different bedrooms.

Applying Suzy’s analogy, this is about my relationships with other people and with the outside world.

So. Again, all the rooms were on odd angles that didn’t quite match up with the external dimensions & appearance of the house, so there were some strange shaped rooms. The best I can do on this is to visualise this aspect as some kind of odd dream-vision-distortion (kinda like acid trips, I guess) OR as an expression of my autism which puts me on an oblique angle with the rest of the world, in so far as my internal dimensions don’t “fit” with the outside pressures for structural conformity with society (&c).  Some of the rooms I went into had been refurbished – beautifully decorated, with nice windows and comfortable furniture and aspect. Other rooms were dilapidated, with ancient 1930’s aluminium framed windows in a shocking state of leaking rust and draughtiness, with damp and peeling wallpaper and cheap, shabby furnishings in various states of collapse and decay. I didn’t meet or see anyone else, and I didn’t get the sense that anyone else lived there, but I didn’t feel alone. I felt like I was engaged in some sort of dialogue, even though I didn’t speak.

The meaning wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but it’s been on my mind all day and it has gradually started to come clear. I’ve been re-evaluating some of my key relationships – attempting to become more open and less fearful that my ‘otherness’ will lead to rejection (as it has so many times in the past) – and these I see as the rooms that have been refurbished – they represent the relationships that are either healed or in the process of being healed. The rooms that are still dilapidated are the relationships that I have not yet faced up to as unhealthy or as in need of healing.,

It’s a reminder that although I’ve come an awful long way in terms of my personal development since I started having this particular dream, that I’ve still got a way to go. It’s a reminder that although *my* ‘now’, *my* ‘foundations’ and *my* creativity & growth & sense of self are well established and largely comfortable and familiar, that I cannot exist as an Island, entire and whole unto myself. I do need the others, and I do need to work harder at those relationships that sustain me, to give more thought and consideration and cherishing to those I care about. This is not going to be easy for me, but the re-appearance of the dream is a sure sign that I need to gather up my courage and make another big step forward. I think I’m going to need help.

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2 Responses to “In every dream home a heartache”

  1. 1 kate

    Very intriguing. I, too, have always been a vivid dreamer, able to recall several dreams each night. I’ve looked for meaning in some of them, and I find dream interpretation fascinating.
    Interesting post.
    Thanks, too, for your comment on my pancake pics 😉


  1. 1 There are limits « A Mingled Yarn

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