Dreams, even if they’re bizarre or scary, are always benign. At the very least, they release feelings we haven’t been able to handle during the day. Dreams serve to keep us emotionally healthy.
Unless we’ve learned to control our usual bias, a scary dream will frighten us just as it would if we were awake. If we don’t know how to control our usual response to the story the dream brings, the message will escape us. Dr. Eugene Gendlin’s book Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams explains how to get beyond our usual reaction so that we get to the actual message.
I believe our dreams often try to get our attention. Maybe there’s something we’re ignoring and need to be aware of.
In my book, Confessions of a Trauma Therapist, I cite the recurring nightmare my mother had when my sister and I were children. For me, it falls into the category of a dream that was attempting to make her aware that her child was being sexually abused. Unfortunately for me, my mother remained bewildered by the bad dream.
Throughout my youth my mother often told us about a disturbing, recurrent nightmare. It was always the same. She, her mother, my sister, and I were in a pastoral, grassy setting in the sunshine. The children were gamboling like lambs in the long grass. Suddenly there was a sinister change. Something was terribly wrong. The sky darkened and the long grass was wet and slimy. My mother was repulsed and horrified. She couldn’t stand the feeling of the wet grass on her legs. She tried to find her children, who were in great danger. She always wakened in a cold sweat from the nightmare. (p.180)
Too bad for me that my mother didn’t learn to interpret her own dreams. If the dream had managed to break through her denial, maybe she’d have protected me from the men in the family.