Q: I am on a rural farm or in a kind of carnival area and a girl in her late teens or early twenties has been chasing after me. She runs into a concession stand with a window that can shut. I want to vanquish her, to get her to stop. I have a dish towel that I’ve formed into a bag with glass shards in it. I throw the bag into the stand where she is. Just as I throw it, I realize I’ve given her ammo. She starts coming after me and the people around me, my boyfriend, family, and others who I want to protect. She’s trying to cut us with little bits of glass, throwing them at us one-by-one.
A: Thank you for sharing this dream, it’s an excellent one for demonstrating how our unconscious can show us parts of our behavior and attitudes of which we’re not yet consciously aware. Dreams come to us from the unconscious, but that doesn’t mean a place of just repressed memories or nonsense from the day. As I’ll explore with this dream, the unconscious, or “not-yet-conscious” mind, stores a great deal of information about the world and who we are that we’ve just not yet been able to see and integrate. Seeing what’s in “the back of the brain” can be like seeing your back in a mirror: it’s different than what you see every day when you see your front side, but it’s as much you as the other and it helps to provide a more complete picture of who you are.
In this dream, a girl is chasing you. Based on the content of what you told me about, I anticipated correctly that this young woman was either dark skinned or had dark hair. Why? Because you’re a blond woman, and the structure of this dream clearly indicates that this is a shadow figure for you. Dreams have patterns and a sort of physics to them that, once learned, can allow certain predictions on the actions and traits of characters involved.
So what does it mean that she’s a shadow figure for you? In the dream, your conscious attitude of yourself, represented by the “I” character, is in opposition to her. You two are in conflict. She represents an aspect of yourself that is in conflict with how you see yourself and your behavior, and she is trying to get your attention. When attempting to destroy her, your method of assault backfired, and instead of getting rid of her, you provided her with ammunition to hurt you and those you care about. There is a part of you that knows that an aspect of your character has been damaging those around you somehow, and the methods you’ve used so far to try to get rid of her have only caused more harm. This part of you is throwing shards of glass at your boyfriend and people you care about. One by one.
What does this mean? To be throwing shards of glass? That gesture of throwing shards, tiny pieces of glass, evokes a style of communication like nagging or picking, or saying little, mean comments. They’re “small” words, like comments from a teenage girl who doesn’t yet know the damage her words are causing. “They’re just little pieces of glass,” you might try to rationalize, but we know the phrase “death by a thousand cuts”; enough little jabs, and our relationships suffer. We can hurt people with accidental, emotional commentary. Sometimes, we can fool ourselves that our behavior with others is no big deal, but all of the emotions and mean comments build-up. We can end up attacking just the people we consciously see ourselves as intending to protect. Specifically, that the glass was wrapped in a dish towel suggests to me that these comments may be wrapped in the form of trying to help and “clean things up” somehow. It seems that wrapped inside your attempts to help others or make things better, may be comments that feel like criticisms instead.
I will share with our readers that we discussed this dream at some length, and you had some important insights about your communication, especially with your boyfriend. “I’m glad we talked about that glass,” you reported the next day. As the dreamer, you instinctively know what those symbols mean in your life. They speak to you personally once they’ve been explored. This isn’t heady intellectualism or nonsense symbology, it resonates. Perhaps now with some insight, you’ll be able to vanquish this attacking-girl for real. She was trying to get your attention, and she has. By acknowledging her, you can now truly protect those around you who have been in harm’s way.
Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!
Satya is a psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their 20s and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com