ISSUE No. 4

Clerestory

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The Clerestory Podcast S1 E14

Life Together: A Community Special
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Unraveling the Mysterious Contents of Dreams

Through dreams, it is possible to fly very high; to tell secrets without fear; to meet someone who we don’t see anymore; to perceive that impossible things come true when we fall asleep.

In my dreams, I feel like “Alice in Wonderland” or like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”: living experiences in imaginary worlds, struggling with fantastic beings, helping people I’ve never seen…

The dream is, for me, the representation of a fantastic journey through the world of the unknown. It’s like diving into the deep waters of the unconscious and getting in touch with some fear or desire that was forgotten or repressed.

The impression I have is that they are timeless, because sometimes I dream about events that happened to me a long time ago (when I was a child) as well as some situation that I am about to face, like a trip for example.

Every dream has a good story to tell and I have to confess that what I most like in my dreams are the things I learn from them. Based on this, I would like to share with you a dream that affected me deeply. My psychoanalyst, in our therapy session, helped me unravel the message behind each narrative based on my life experiences.

My Dream, My Refuge

I was attending a coffee break at an academic event, full of students who were talking and snacking at a buffet.

Wearing an identification tag around my neck, I was watching the place, as if I was looking for something or someone. I decided to go to the outside area of the event, and I ended up meeting a friend.While we were talking, a huge steamroller came towards us. Startled, I looked at my friend and said, “Arthur, watch out.” Arthur had his back to the machine and for this reason he ends up being dredged by it. The equipment immediately transformed him into a large sheet of paper. Terrified by the accident, I started to run and warn people to get away from that steamroller.

I looked at the sky and saw the sun shining through the clouds. As I gazed out at the sun, I realized that it started to expand as if it were going to swallow me. Distressed and overwhelmed by fear, I decided to run out warning all the people around me to not look directly at the sun, otherwise they could be hit by it.

Suddenly, the glare of the sun was taken by a giant shadow, turning the sky to a very cloudy gray. Before my eyes, the sun started to black out quickly, and, in a panic, I started to shout to everyone: “melancholy, melancholy.”All the people ran away in order to not be alone in the most complete darkness.

The sky became clear again, and, little by little, people went back to the street. However, small stones began to fall from the sky and an intense rain of hail began. The stones quickly fell from the sky, hurting the people who were present. Everybody began to run desperately for shelter and protection and they went into several shops open, one next to the other. I decided to go into one of the stores, but, because it was full of people, I ended up leaving the place. Worried, I ran away to another place to shelter until I finally came into an old shed, with several mattresses on the floor.

Gradually, the rest of the people settled in the shed and lying on the mattresses, side by side. Someone warned that the sky will become black forever and that the only solution would be to close our eyes and not open them anymore. I curled up in a fetal position and asked a little girl who was lying by my side to sleep to hug her, because I was quite scared. The child was also afraid and said that I could hold her. The little girl hugged her doll and slept like a baby.

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My psychoanalyst helped me understand the meaning of this dream in the context of my life and relationships. Each part of this dream represents the relationship I had with my father when I was a child.

In the beginning of my dream, I was lost, insecure, and very afraid of each adversity that surrounded me. The sheet of paper on the steamroller symbolized how I always felt inadequate and overwhelmed to send a lesson to my teacher or take an exam. Once, my father made me erase all the homework I was doing because, according to him, the teacher would not see my handwriting in the notebook and therefore would give me a zero.

All the other challenges in the dream came from the sky, representing something taller and stronger than I – in this case it was my father. The way I gazed at the sky reminded me a lot of the manner I used to look at him when I was a child.

The sky was constantly changing its appearance for each new challenge and this reminded me of my father’s constant mood swings. Just as I felt unprotected and scared, I also felt the need to protect everyone in the dream. The moment that I tried to protect myself in a crowded store for example, represented the times I wished to sleep with my parents and could no longer because of my baby sister.

It was possible to notice that each challenge had the objective of hurting me, making me afraid or without reaction. However, I always reacted either by running, asking for help, or seeking shelter and protection.

At the end of the dream, the maternal uterus is identified as the only safe place to remain. The little girl holding a doll is nothing more than my inner child who finally sleeps in the warm womb.

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This dream taught me a lot about the importance of building safe and loving relationships in childhood. Relationships without judgments, labels and disapproval in the eyes. I learned: fear creates barriers, but love builds bridges.

The analysis of dreams in psychotherapy has added value and meaning to my life. This dream, for example, gave me a deep understanding of how fear brought negative consequences and affected my relationships not only in the family environment, but also with friends, at school or at work.

However, once the origins of fear are identified, it is possible to treat it in therapy sessions. And it is for this reason that dreams, when analyzed along with a psychotherapist, can have curative effects on the subject’s life, restoring relationships, and broadening understanding of oneself and the other.

Daniela Silva is a Brazilian educator and independent writer. She holds a BA in Pedagogy with concentrations in School Management and Business Education; an MBA in Personnel Management; and a postgraduate certificate in Neuroeducation. Working with social projects in the area of e-learning and people development since 2009, Ms. Silva is a regular contributor to several educational websites. Passionate about education and the human mind, she believes in self-knowledge as the key to a more fulfilling and enjoyable life. According to her, self-knowledge strengthens self-esteem and sheds light on our value in the world. Silva consider that what moves the world are the people, for this reason she tries to help them through the articles she writes.

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