Why Dream Something Already Fulfilled?

This morning I wanted back in the dream. But when I was fully awake, I recognized it–this dream. Maybe it had taken a slightly different form, but the essence of it, THE LONGING–it’s that dream. It’s related to my desire to marry my husband. It’s a dream that has roots in my late teens, early twenties. (Why now? We’ve been married for over forty years.) But early this morning, it reappeared, the same LONGING, the same need to plan so we could marry.

In the dream I am asking myself what job could I get to help support us? (Economics was a big issue in our early years.) The dream was so vivid and wonderful–I was back in my childhood home, in those rooms, looking down on that street on the southside of Chicago. Wow.


Of course I went to Sigmund Freud–“And it is only after seeing man as his unconscious, revealed by his dreams, presents him to us that we shall understand him fully. For as Freud said to Putnam: ‘We are what we are because we have been what we have been.’

So is Freud saying, we make choices, plan our lives in our dreams that eventually become us in the living flesh? Because: WE HAVE BEEN WHAT WE HAVE BEEN. That current of longing that we carry into our conscious choices.

In the novel I am currently writing, my main character struggles with dreams. She thinks about them this way:

But dreams? They were something buried in the desolate space of night, buried under the whorls of the brain, the bones of the cranium. Dreams were illusive and slinky; they spun and flew like ghosts. They might be the purview of the heart, forced out in the shadows of sleep to release pain and pressure. Or they were the final warning, the bridge to death. You fell into them and the strength to avoid their grasp eluded you, abandoned you to a storm of ripped memories, a continuous loop you could never escape. 


I have actually used my first nightmare in the novel. I cannot be sure it is my very first nightmare. But I dreamt it as a child and the memory was so powerful, it is still palpable.  There’s no longing in that dream–only fear. Thus I have my main character dream it in segments, having the dream expand and grow from its initial beginning to a horrifying end.

Here is the beginning: as she moved forward, the sibilance of the water, the lyrical pull and push of the waves became harsh and cold, the sidewalks darkening, cold rain falling, making her avoid deep puddles, her head down to watch. Then a car—the hulk of black metal and glinting steel approaching in the rain, coming toward her, its lights raw beacons through the dark, and she alone in this descending cave of night, she alone, her body frozen, her mouth stuck around a torn tatter of a scream…mommy…

Freud would probably object, but dreams are so illusive that I felt I had the power to harness one for my story.


Freud also says:  “By exposing the hidden dream-thoughts, we have confirmed in general that the dream does continue the motivation and interests of waking life, for dream-thoughts are engaged only with what seems to be important and of great interest to us.”

Certainly, my childhood fear was of being taken away in some strange car, taken from the place of peace, security and contentment that was my home. That theme has appeared in so many stories over time.

Not all people in their early lives are blessed with place. When you are, you know you are–it is not how big or small the PLACE is, that does not matter. Being the child of wealth and being partially raised by a nanny while mother and father traveled and spent time overseas or wherever, might not have created place. Or maybe the nanny became “mother.” It’s that warm lap you could lose your tired head in or those arms that hugged you fiercely before you went off to school for the first time. That’s PLACE. That’s HOME.


So I do think I know why I dreamt my LONGING dream last night. First I shared it with my husband, which is always a bonding experience. But the dream has its origin in yesterday as many dreams do. We digitized slides of my childhood and yesterday my husband received them in the mail and input them into the computer. One heads this blog post. It is of my dear mother standing under the apple tree in our backyard. It is spring, 1960s–fifty some years ago. The photo is blurry, but I like the dream-like quality of it. She and the tree are definitely THE STUFF OF DREAMS.

WHAT HAVE YOU DREAMT LATELY? DO YOU HAVE A RECURRING DREAM? If so, I hope it is one of longing for something wonderful.



10 thoughts on “Why Dream Something Already Fulfilled?

  1. My childhood recurring dream was about a car in the rain too. Only I was asleep in the back seat and I’d wake up to find…nobody driving.

    Nobody was in the front seat and I was alone. Must have started when I was about four or five. I had to lean over the seat (pre-headrest 1950s car) and reach over to grab the steering wheel and steer the speeding car on the dark, rainy freeway.

    Obviously, I didn’t feel my parents were fully in charge, which they weren’t. But it was such a terrifying dream, I couldn’t learn to drive until I was in my 20s.

  2. I do dream, but if I wake up and don’t immediately write it down, it’s lost. Often I will wake with a melody in my head, and I will reach for my iphone and attempt to record myself humming the idea. That has worked a few times, and usually those melodies feel like some of the better ones……
    I had some scary night mares in my youth, but they were always short, but very intense. Fascinating to think what goes on inside of oneself when you are not in control?????????

    • Very true, but at some level you are still in control, you are working through your day or your life, but the images are foreign and disguised. Interpretation of dreams??

  3. The sense of home is very powerful. I usually spend time making even a hotel room feel like home. I move things around, put my things out instead of hotel magazines etc. It brings me comfort and helps me sleep well. I do not have a recurrent dream. However, I do seem to dream when I am deeply troubled about something or my heart is broken as in loss of dear ones. I have never written my dreams down, but I often share them with my husband.

    • Of course what I am reading here, Ellen, is that HOME is your husband and the love you have for him as well as your ability to find security in PLACE when you travel. We all have our ways of coping. I wish you many wonderful dreams, Beth

  4. I know that I dream (and sometimes have nightmares) but I rarely give them much thought. When a nightmare wakes me up, or a dream stays with me through the day, that’s when I feel as though they’re trying to tell me something and I need to take the time to try to decipher it.

    • It’s hard, I know. I’ve had dreams, infrequent, when my father is there. Those are the best, as he’s been gone since my early childhood. Now I hope to see my mom or my childhood home now and again.

  5. I rarely remember my dreams…I don’t know what that says about me…but I never have nightmares…and didn’t as a child either..I recently had a dream about my son who passed last year..First one I had of him and it was sweet…

    • Renee, thanks for sharing this with me. So hard to lose a child, so amazing if you can pull him back into your consciousness with a dream. Thank you.

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