Recurring dreams

I was recently challenged to write about recurring dreams by a mentor who happens to be reading Carl Jung's The Undiscovered Self (which I'm also trying to read, although slogging through is a more accurate description of my experience thus far.) While I don't typically remember my dreams past breakfast time anymore, there are a couple of recurring ones I've had for more than 30 years. So, challenge accepted, Mentor. Here you go.

1. The Searching for Someone dream

This dream involves one of the following three people from my past: 1) a childhood friend; 2) my first crush; and 3) another friend from more recent years.

The setting is always a place where I had memorable interactions with that person: my old elementary school, Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, the campground at Lake Junaluska, a church in Durham, the wine bar at Whole Foods in SouthPark, a certain Charlotte restaurant, an office building by a fountain, a stone house in the mountains.

ME: (Arriving, feeling hopeful) Has anyone seen ________?

RANDOM PERSON: Why, yes! He/She was here, but just left. You literally just missed him/her.

ME: (Feeling slightly disappointed) Oh! Any idea where he/she was going?

RANDOM PERSON: Yeah, he/she was headed to ________.

At which point I go to that place and the scenario repeats itself. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the person I'm looking for through a window or in the distance, but we never make eye contact. By the time I reach the next destination, they're gone. It's like pursuing a ghost. With each failure to connect, I feel more deflated. I wake up feeling extremely disappointed and that feeling stays with me for several hours. I just can't seem to shake it off. 

2. The Control Freak + Disaster dream

This dream involves my immediate family plus an aunt and uncle circa 1980. Everyone's the age they were then except for me; I'm whatever age I am at the time I'm dreaming. (So when I have the dream now, I'm actually older than my parents, which is totally weird.) The setting is always the same: we're hanging out at Aunt ML's house, in her yard or on her back porch.

There are two scenarios: 1) The tornado and 2) the airplane.

Tornado scenario

In the distance, I see something that looks like a funnel cloud. Slowly but surely, it forms into a tornado.


MOM/DAD/SISTER/AUNT/UNCLE: (Looking at me like deer in headlights.)

ME: (Still shouting) SERIOUSLY! MOVE IT! NOW!!!

THEM: (Looking at each other, shaking their heads, then looking at me like I have three heads.)

MY DAD (Acting amused): She sure loves telling people what to do, doesn't she?

ME: (Completely put out that no one is heeding my warning.)

The sky's getting darker and the tornado is heading for us, but they're oblivious. I wake up just before the tornado touches down.

Note: This dream started long before I moved to Indiana, where I lived for 14 years and experienced life in Tornado Alley for real. I really don't know what to make of it.

Airplane scenario

I hear an airplane in the distance, but it doesn't sound normal. The engine makes sputtering sounds. I look up, and see the plane falling from the sky, with a trail of smoke behind it.


MOM/DAD/SISTER/AUNT/UNCLE: (Deer in headlights.)


THEM: (Unable to move or speak or respond in any way. Completely frozen as if paralyzed.)

The plane continues to fall. Sometimes I see the panicked faces of the passengers in the windows. In the meantime, my family carries on without a care in the world, as if we're at a picnic. It's super-creepy. Luckily, I always wake up before the crash.

Both versions of this dream make me feel angry with my family for their inaction and complacence. It's true that I've always had a reputation for being "bossy" in my immediate family and that will probably never change. I've always had a directive leadership style. It's just how I roll.

I'd be really good in crisis situations. If people would just do what I tell them to do.

An analysis, sort of

WWJS? What would Jung say? That is the question.

Unlike Dream #1, which leaves me feeling fragile and frustrated, I really just have to roll my eyes at Dream #2. It doesn't bother me at all -- I just think it's weird that I've had it several times a year since I was in my early 20s.

Is it a birth order thing? I'm the oldest child in a family of youngest children. Dad? Youngest. Mom? Youngest. Sister? Youngest. Let me tell you, it hasn't been easy, because I'm as much the stereotypical oldest child as they are the youngest. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE PRESSURE?!! Even now, when we plan a family meal, something like this happens:

DAD: Where do you want to eat dinner?

MOM: I don't care. Where do you want to go?

DAD: I don't care, either.

MOM: It really doesn't matter to me.

ME: (Interrupting/blurting out) WE'RE GOING TO [NAME OF RESTAURANT.]

DAD and MOM: OK. Let's go.

But I digress, because now I'm beginning to head in the direction of Freud rather than Jung.

The point is, I've been making decisions since I could talk, because no one else in my family will. So yeah, I'm bossy, because somebody's got to lead. Too bad they won't follow my instructions!

As to Dream #1, I have no idea what that's all about. Guess I'll have to keep slogging through reading Jung for answers. Or maybe my mentor will do that for me?


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