Dream of the Month (December 1999)
- Title: Gory
- Date of the Dream: 11/13/1999 (mailed Sunday, 14 November 1999)
I dreamed that my husband was dying again. In the dream he was in a hospital bed, but otherwise it was like the moment in real life after he’d collapsed and I found him in the bathroom. That night I had run to help him and he was lying on the floor with his head jammed up against the bathroom cabinet. His eyes were glazed and he was staring off into space, barely conscious. When I would ask him questions he would just mumble nonsense. His skin was so cold and clammy. I was afraid he was going right then and I kept shaking him, talking to him and trying to get him back. That's the way he was in the dream; he was mumbling again and staring like he couldn't even see me. I was yelling for people to come help; but no one else could see that he was dying.
In the next scene of the dream, I was in a home I didn not recognize and I was getting ready to undergo some medical treatment myself. A home health-care nurse was getting ready to give me a shunt for an IV. I started coughing and this long wire came up out of my throat, like I was coughing it up. I pulled the wire out and at the other end was this weird mass of tissue with metal springs or corkscrews coming out of it. These were about the size of corkscrew coils. The effect was like I had ingested some weird contraption or piece of machinery, and it had sort of rusted and come apart inside me. Now all that was left were pieces of metal and coils tangled up with my insides. After that came out, I could feel other things stuck in my throat. I was reaching in and pulling out these huge clots of bloody tissue with little tentacles coming out of them. I swear it was like what I would imagine tumors to look like. It was so awful that even the nurse was panicking, like something totally alien was going on.
- Significant life event: It's been a very traumatic year, but these are the two most major events: My husband exitd nine months ago at age 42 from a heart transplant rejection, two years post-transplant. We were married for 19 years and have two teenage sons. My father was diagnosed with colon cancer one month ago and had surgery immediately.
- Personal concerns/issues: I am a vocalist and had just completed a very successful symphony concert the night before. My parents were in town for my father's post-surgery checkup and came to the concert. We had a very pleasant evening visiting afterward. My day job--as a technical book editor--is becoming demoralizing after five years. Feels like burnout. I've been thinking about finding another job, although as a single parent now, I'm afraid it might be hard to find another one with the same level of salary and benefits, and I can't afford to make less money. I've been doing freelance work on the side that is much more satisfying, but the security factor is not there.
- Associations: I'm really stumped on this one. I was wondering if it's a fear of getting cancer. It seems really strange to have such a frightening dream after such a successful evening that I really enjoyed.
- Pen Name: Anonymous
Dr. Holloway's Comments:
Identifying Characteristics: Swallowed objects represent experiences that we have trouble assimilating.
Dreams can be understood not only by their content, but also by their relationship to other scenes and dreams during the night. A sound rule of thumb is that all dreams of a single night will tackle the same issues or concerns even if they appear very different. When dreams shift to entirely different scenes, they are still continuing to explore the concerns depicted in previous scenes.
This dream shows us some of the pain, grief and shock involved with the loss of your husband. We naturally continue to dream of loss and trauma in an effort to understand and absorb what has happened. But we also have such dreams because they point to markers in the psyche; times when we change profoundly or enter a new phase. If you feel like a different person, or feel less able to tolerate compromise, do not be impatient with yourself. Allow yourself to stretch and grow into the person you are becoming without insisting that things remain as they were. The metallic tentacles you are trying to remove in order to heal probably represent your attempts to move through life by sheer courage and automatic actions. But initial coping styles that save our sanity for the short term can become poisonous in the long term, and dreams use a strong warning voice to make this clear. This is the time for you to take steps to care for yourself by doing whatever you have neglected or postponed thus far. You cannot swallow one more mechanical moment, but need to share, unburden, explore and wonder. This is a good time for sharing with a therapist or equivalent support the things you need to absorb about the past as well as the things you wish to create for the future.