Q: I have a recurring dream that I have gum wrapped around my back teeth and am trying to get it out. It feels like a lot of gum, and sometimes it will start to go down my throat, which really freaks me out. I feel anxious that it’s there. Sometimes, I am trying to get the gum out of my mouth because I’m doing something in which I need to speak.
Q: I have a recurring dream that there is gum in my throat, a thick wad of it, and I’m desperate to get it out of my mouth. The more I pull, the more gum keeps coming. It never ends and I’m totally freaked out.
A: Whew! Here we have two different women, living in different states, who reported to me their primary recurring dream. Forgive me for being a bit of a nerd here, but is this not just the most fascinating thing? Many people have heard of the common back-in-school and teeth-falling-out dreams and might be de-sensitized to how very strange it is that we can dream very similar dreams at night. But it really is pretty amazing. How does that happen?? What is the unconscious (collective or personal) representing here? What human experience is being captured by these images?
Let’s explore this dream viscerally. To start unlocking this dream, imagine yourself in this situation. Imagine you’re in public and you have a huge wad of gum in your throat and in the back of your mouth that (of course) you really want to get out. You try to remove it… you begin to get anxious… the gum’s not easily coming out… there’s a lot of it… it keeps coming… What do you do? How do you protect yourself? What are the types of fear that arise?
In this dream, the ability to speak has been thwarted. One’s mouth and throat are all gummed-up. The capacity for self-expression has been prevented and shoved aside by more complicated feelings of fear, shame, and insecurity. As one is privately managing a fear that she is in a strange, maybe dangerous situation, out of control of what’s happening, she is simultaneously trying not to let others know of her predicament out of shame. She is in a “sticky situation,” managing her own fear while trying not to let others catch-on.
The images in this dream are representing certain inner experiences; as it’s a recurring dream, those inner experiences are likely rather persistent and common to the individual: a difficulty with authentic self-expression, with finding one’s true voice, and therefore feelings of insecurity, of being alone with one’s own emotions despite being among people, and feeling that things are not easily within one’s own control.
To you two beautiful ladies who dreamt this dream (should my analysis of it prove at all true), you might consider playing with this dream a little to alter it and take care of yourself in the process. Dream it forward. You’ve got gum stuck in your throat, you’re anxious and panicked, but you don’t have to deal with this very strange crisis by yourself. Imagine the dream and add someone in who you trust completely and who you can look to for help. How do they react? What do they do? What do you need? What help can they offer? See what arises and explore what comes next…
Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!
Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com