Q: I’m chasing my two young daughters through an outdoor restaurant. My toddler is jumping on picnic tables and nearly steps on a plate of food in front of a handsome, tattooed man. I apologize profusely, but he doesn’t seem bothered. He plays sweetly with my toddler, then notices my other daughter in the background. He comments on how funny it is that she’s there as she is his daughter. I’m confused. I tell him that she’s my daughter. He becomes confused. I touch his arms and then hold his hands. I’m trying to remember how it’s possible that I don’t remember conceiving a child with him. We feel a connection like we could make this work. How have we forgotten each other?
A: What a very, very lovely dream. I am moved by the emotional, fated encounter that this dream illustrates, and also by the inner awakening that I think it’s reflecting. You’ve re-encountered an aspect of yourself that it seems you lost touch with long ago. “How could we have forgotten each other?”
This dream is a lovely reflection of what Jung called “the reality of the psyche.” This may feel like the biggest leap I’ve ever asked you to take with me, readers, but I want to suggest that the characters in our dreams may not just be aspects of ourselves and our emotional lives, but also real unto themselves. Just as when we create something a piece of art, for instance, a painting or a piece of music, it reflects who we are on the inside and how we’re feeling, but once it is created, it is separate from us and exists on its own. We create something and make it autonomous. If animated, it would no longer feel itself to simply be a part of us, we would be its place of origin, but not its totality.
How does this relate to the world of dreams? In dream interpretation, we do a lot of exploration into the meaning of certain images and characters, seeking insight into our lives. While this can be very illuminating, it is also always a bit reductive. What your dream so beautifully illustrates is a sense of the autonomous interactions between characters in your psyche. All dreams can be seen this way, but it is the mutual sense of confusion and surprise that you and this man experience that I find particularly compelling. One might imagine a movie made from this scene: you step into another world, another realm, and there you encounter a man who truly, with all his being, believes himself to be the father of your child and yet not know you at all. This man whom you encounter exists, he has come into existence through you, and he is perplexed, just as you are, by the confounding situation. I just love that!
Now, to ground this back into the exploration of the dream’s meaning for you, this very handsome man to whom you are so drawn represents a part of your animus, your inner masculine, with which you seem to be getting re-acquainted. My guess is that his essence is familiar, if you were to explore it further, to your sense of who were in earlier days. Make a list of the qualities you see in him. Write every trait down that you can associate with him. Really, do it! Now once you’ve written down all those traits, come back…
All of those traits are parts of you. They are qualities in you that you’re projecting into him. Own them. Does he represents qualities of yourself that you had to let go of when you became pregnant with your first child? Does he feel like a part of yourself that you lost touch with back then?
Your description of this handsome man gives me the sense that he is a confident, integrated person, and that your connection to him in your dream provides you with a sense of calm and confidence too. Just like a wonderful friend in the waking world, or a beautiful painting you created, this inner figure can now look back at you and show you your strengths and beauty.
I’ll share with our readers what you shared with me, that you are a recently divorced woman, single for the last year or so. You also reported a long-standing fear that you will not find love or partnership again as you feel that no man will want to be with a woman with two children. Oh dear. I hope (pray) that this dream has provided you with a visceral sense of calm around that fear. If you take nothing from this exploration, I ask you simply, in times of distress, to sink back into that feeling you had when you woke-up: a man, to whom you are very attracted, is drawn to you, and not in-spite of your children but in large part because of them! He is gentle with your toddler and loving towards you. Remember the feeling of this and create your own reality around it. In times of insecurity and doubt, you can draw-on this inner figure to give you a sense of confidence. Use that feeling of connection for strength in the outer world and hang your head high. This handsome, kind, confident man is you, and he is yours as well.
Do you have a question about your dreams? Send me an email! email@example.com
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Satya is a 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. For more information about therapy services in Portland, visit: www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com