Over the years, I’ve written about both kinds of dreams, awake and asleep. I’ve always believed our sleeping dreams have some deeper meaning and purpose than entertainment; when my husband gave me a book about interpretations of dreams, my belief was solidified.
There’s a lot of research about dreams, and many don’t believe they have any kind of meaning. The book I read proposed that our dreams are made up of our subconscious observations and that the purpose of some dreams is to prepare our conscious minds for situations that may occur in our waking life. The dreams aren’t necessarily direct messages from subconscious to conscious minds, actually, they rarely are. And that’s where interpretation comes in.
One recurring dream I wrote about was from when I was pregnant with our older son. My husband and I were living in Washington DC, and I had a great career in front of me. I was commuting at least an hour each way to work throughout my pregnancy, and when we were well into the second half, I researched and hired a great nanny to stay with the baby after my maternity leave ended.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I started to have a recurring, very unpleasant dream that I had twins.
From my teen years until I was almost 30, I had no intention of having children. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I considered the idea. Because I’m somewhat impulsive, considering the idea didn’t last long — I was pregnant just a few months later. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I started to have a recurring, very unpleasant dream that I had twins. One baby was much bigger than the other, and I kept dropping the big one. People would give me dirty looks as I quickly picked up the baby, who was always fine and did my best to manage the weight and awkwardness of holding both of them. After a few weeks of this dream, I realized what the dream was telling me: I was concerned about being able to balance a career and a new baby. It never came clear to me which was the big one I was dropping, career or family, but once I interpreted the dream and started to address my anxiety through conversations with my employer, my husband, and our nanny, the dreams stopped.
Others I wrote about were my recurring exposure dreams. A few evenings before or after I step out of my comfort zone, either on stage or any type of performance, I’ll have dreams that I am trying to shower or go to the bathroom, I’m naked, and there are no shower or stall doors. In those dreams, I’m exposed as people are walking by as if nothing is wrong or awkward.
My recent interpretation of a recurring dream prompted this article: Spider webs.
I’ve been uncomfortable at best, terrified at worst, around spiders and spider webs for as long as I can remember. I’ve never really been afraid of things, but spiders definitely get my heart racing. Also for as long as I can remember, I’ve had awful dreams of being down in a basement, surrounded by spider webs/cob webs. In my dreams, I walk down to get something, and when I turn around to get out, there are webs all around me. They rarely have visible spiders on them, but I know they’re around. I try to find a space big enough to squeeze myself through without touching the webs, and in some cases I push my way through, feeling the webs on my skin and hair, terrified that a spider is on my head or body somewhere, and I wake up shaking. In other cases, I just wake up, never having gotten through the webs, and with no resolution.
It finally dawned on me (pun intended), that these recurring dreams aren’t that difficult to interpret. Maybe it’s because my family is facing some real challenges with potential long-term consequences, or maybe it’s because I finally have the insight to understand them.
Those webs are the fears and discomforts I’m facing. I know walking through them will be unpleasant, or even dangerous, and my subconscious mind is making me go through those webs over and over again. It’s trying to prepare me to face these fears, and know that somehow I’ll get through them. It’s also acknowledging the nature of the fears — that they’re just spider webs, which are generally pretty lightweight and breakable, but that they have the potential for danger because of the poisonous black widow spiders that may be lurking on them.
I’m hopeful that with this interpretation, my spider web dreams will change in some way, and that maybe they’ll even stop. But I’m not in denial, I know these dreams serve a purpose, and as long as I’m living, growing, and taking risks, I’ll be followed by them.
Do you have recurring dreams? Did you ever consider how, or if, they can be interpreted? Do you believe in dreams as subconscious messages? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.