Dreams come in many flavors.
There are the mundane ones, in which your daily tasks past or present — attending class, going to the post office, your duties at work — are beset by bizarre sets of obstacles. In a way, perhaps these dreams train you to encounter difficulty and overcome it in your waking life; our distant ancestors, for example, probably dreamed of lovely afternoons spent gathering plants — and having to hightail it from the saber-toothed tiger lurking in the tall grass. These dreams are annoying, but I view them as having a problem-solving purpose of sorts.
There are sacred dreams, in which the Gods and spirits send messages. These are quite rare, but I remember them deeply. They are dreams that sing through you like the tone of a bell, vibrating into the core of who you are. You know these dreams; there is an aura of profundity that surrounds them upon waking, even if you forget the particulars.
And then there are the bizarre dreams, that come from a night of Benadryl, too many tacos or odd reading material before bedtime. These are often bizarrely entertaining.
I think the series of dreams I’ve been having lately are a subset of the first. Essentially, in my dreams, everybody hates me. In one, it’s my closest family: parents, husband, even cats. Another: the Pagan community invited me to a great banquet, and everyone refused to sit with me. The one the other night: everyone at work hates me. A theme that runs throughout: everyone is only pretending to like me.
I really detest these dreams, and their commonness. It’s almost like I have a ticket: one punch for each hate-dream. I’m hoping I run out of punches soon and get on to something else.
These dreams, however, do reveal something deep about me and, in that way, they’re valuable. They express my Jungian Shadow, so to speak: the deepest, darkest cavern of myself. And as a way to flip the bird to the Shadow, I’m putting it out for everyone to read: Yes, I think these things in my waking life. These are some of my deepest fears, even greater than my fear of dogs or blood.
I have never been much of a group animal, although I recognize the integral importance of groups to human social and psychological survival. A confession: I was horribly bullied in school, largely because I was a strange character: a girl who loved (and still loves) fantasy and science fiction, who wore (and still wears) overly colorful, unfashionable and hand-me-down clothes, who was (and still is) geekily honest and largely without guile, who followed (and still follows) an unusual religion and believes strange things.
In short, I was myself — and the society around me found that self lacking, and deserving of contempt and correction.
Your experiences mold you into what you are, and shape your deepest fears. My many years of running have made me afraid of dogs — and my childhood experiences of being mocked, shunned and, yes, on certain occasions stoned (of the rock sort and not the drug sort) have shaped me into the perpetual outsider. Long ago, I came to identify with the role of outsider. I took the quintessential outsider’s career because of it.
I can see the importance and power of groups, but still deeply fear them — in the same way that I fear dogs on my runs.
One thing has changed, though: I am not the little girl anymore. I am a grown woman, strong and whip-smart, with fancy-ass degrees and a decent resume. I can tell you my greatest fear, because I am stronger than it. I am the woman with the flashlight, beaming it directly in the face of the Shadow.
And, of course, I am still the awkwardly honest girl who loves sci-fi.