“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.” -Sigmund Freud
Whoever said dreams are meaningless was wrong. Do you suffer from nocturnal meanderings that disturb your sleep? Our subconscious thoughts get mixed up with our events of the day to culminate in some pretty strange dreams. During divorce, our daytime events are often full of stress and conflict. What we would like to forget at the end of the day can come back to haunt us in our dreams at night. Our days aren’t exactly fun filled, so why do we have to relive it when were supposed to be peacefully sleeping? I’m no Freud but in my experience, the changes and transitions we face in divorce can cause an increase in vivid dreams. Although some can be disturbing, I think if you examine them close enough they might actually help you.
During my divorce I began to have a recurring dream about a house. The strange thing is this house was completely unknown to me. I had never seen it in real life because it didn’t actually exist. It was large with many disjointed rooms, most of them empty. There was always a vague feeling in this dream that I was about to lose the house or that the house was never really mine. It was just a place I was renting and living in temporarily that could be taken away at any time. It was dark and seemed to absorb any light that tried to get in. Sometimes I couldn’t find my car when I could have sworn I parked it in the garage. Other times, I would look on the driveway and people would be parked there in a camper seemingly living on my property. I was sure soon these strangers would be moving in with me.
In another recurring dream my doorbell would ring in the middle of the night. I would go downstairs and before I could answer it my ex and his new girlfriend would be walking into my front entrance. This house, in the dream was much like the house I was actually living in. The location of the house would change though. In some of the dreams it was on the Prairies in winter, in other dreams it was a house close to the ocean and it was stormy and raining. So, there they were in my house walking around looking at my things. She would point to random items and tell my ex that they would take this or that. I would tell them to leave but it was if I was invisible. They didn’t hear a word I said. Soon they would be taking items out with them like my paintings, stereo, television and sofas. In one of these dreams the kids were there and they took them as well explaining that they were going to Disneyland. I would stand by the door and watch them leave with my belongings and my children.
What was actually going on at the time? It seems as though both of these dreams represent insecurity and fear of loss. I was insecure. My ex had stopped paying support and quit his job. He was also determined to keep the children with him as much as possible. He found reasons and excuses to keep them extra days at his house. When the children would finally return to my house, he found reasons to call them back over. Several times for example, the children told me they couldn’t come to my house because their father would be alone because his girlfriend was away for the weekend. It was nonsensical and crazier than my recurring dream. On top of this, my ex was threatening my post marital assets by insisting they be assessed (and re-assessed). The fact that these assets were acquired after our separation was irrelevant according to his lawyer. Even more disturbing, my motherhood of which was obviously priceless and irreplaceable, was being threatened. Parenthood is one of the marital gifts you can’t take back in a divorce. I guess he didn’t get that memo. Looking back at what was happening at the time, the recurring dreams begin to make sense.
Were there answers for me in these dreams? Yes. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had to fight to keep what was mine. I had to stay strong and have a voice or I would be run over by the steam roller who was my ex. I would be left with nothing if I didn’t fight back. I got tougher. I strengthened my boundaries and practiced some tough love on the kids.
I wouldn’t dismiss dreams as meaningless especially if you are going through a significantly stressful time in your life. Instead, try to use them to your advantage. I recommend keeping a dream journal during divorce. What strange details will reveal a hidden fear or fact regarding your divorce proceedings? Sometimes dreams can even give us ideas on how to solve a problem. It’s true that dreams are for the most part just jumbled up thoughts but if you look close enough, there might be a message.
Have you experienced nocturnal disturbances…recurring dreams? Why do you think we dream?
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