“Yuck! My Poop was Gray like Clay!” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: I am on the toilet at my house, and I’m pooping. It is hard to get out and a firm consistency. When I am done, I look at it and see that it is like rubber. It’s gray and firm. Out of curiosity, or perhaps incredulity, I reach out and feel it. It is, after all, pretty strange to poop rubber, and I need to test it by feel to make sure. I reach in and pulled out a large piece and squished it between my hands. It wasn’t disgusting or repulsive. The feeling I had was more of fascination and wonder. I continued to “play” with it, squeezing it apart, and looking to see if I was poop at all, or something else. It was definitely poop-ish, because there was a little brown in it. It was important to me to figure out what it was, and how it had come from my body. After playing with it, I looked around and saw gray splatter marks around me on a white wall. I had made a mess somehow. It didn’t smell at all, and I was in no way grossed out, just a bizarre and curious feeling. 

A: Thank you for writing, and for sharing this dream! You would not believe how frequently people have poop dreams and wonder what they mean, embarrassed to have dreamt something so strange and socially awkward. But if my blog statistics are any indication, people are dreaming with this theme pretty frequently and are quite curious to know what it’s all about. Thank you for sharing your dream here so we can explore these symbols a bit more in depth.

As you know, I have written one dream interpretation about poop already. In that interpretation, I reviewed the ways in which our physical digestive systems can reflect our psychic digestive systems, both in the waking world and in our dream lives. If you’re constipated in life, eastern medicine has long known that it may reflect that you’re also emotionally jammed-up. (Our bodies and minds are undivided, the western world has just somehow lost touch with that.) The way we relate to our poop in dreams can also reflect the ways we relate to our psychic processing. For instance, if we’re disgusted with the dark matter of the body, we may also be disgusted with the dark qualities of our emotional lives.

In this dream, you’re actually quite curious about what is coming out of you. You’re a woman on the brink of turning 30, and you’ve been deeply immersed in some painful relationship issues, financial issues, old familial health, and family patterns.  You are also an artist, something which shows up prominently in your dream in that you relate the texture and color of your dream-poop with the erasers you use when you draw. You explained that in waking life you smoosh these erasers like clay to make them clean, integrating the dirty parts with the clean eraser again. This association points us straight towards your creative being, which is an important aspect of dreams about defecation that I did not explore in the last interpretation.

Many traditional cultures believe(d) that everything that comes out of the human body is endowed with power. Modern culture has an opposite perspective: anything that comes out of the human body is disgusting and should be quickly discarded. But anyone who has been around a child knows that poop holds tremendous fascination in early life. Toddlers will proclaim proudly: “Mommy, I pooped!” Which is to say, “Mommy! I made something!” Poop is the first thing that we create as people. There is power in producing something within our own bodies and then bringing it out into the world. It may just be waste to our cognitive minds, but it is also a remarkable process taking place within our physical systems. And it is waste from our bodies that provides soil for new growth to take place in the future.

I would explore for yourself what is trying to come out of you, in your life and emotional processing, in order to complete one cycle of life and begin a new cycle of creative growth. How are you working on transitioning into a new phase? And what is needed to make this gray substance of your dreams a more natural material for fertile growth?

The colors in this dream are quite interesting. The white of walls can connote purity, or a kind of emptiness; a state of quasi-perfection that is also rather sterile. In your dream, these white walls are being splattered with gray matter. Things are getting messed-up, probably in a good way, in the same way that the blood in an old dream interpretation was invigorating the space with new life. You know this is your “shit” so to speak, but it’s also something else.

What’s interesting in this description of “gray matter” is that it leads me to an association with literal gray matter in your body, a form of neural tissue in the central nervous system and brain that is responsible for the processing and integration of sensory information. This tissue is known for its gray-brown color, just like you describe the material in your dream. It is also rubbery in nature being part of the brain and spinal column.

Gray matter in the brain develops primarily in childhood and teenage years. If there’s abuse and trauma in those years, gray matter can be diminished and the individual’s overall emotional functioning and executive decision making capacity can be hampered. Because of some of these developmental stages of growth, when chaos interrupts healthy growth, it can leave people feeling somewhat cursed or stuck in what feels like patterns that won’t end. You wrote me with descriptions of the highly emotional situations you’ve been dealing with lately. At first, I struggled to see how this was reflected in your dream because the images have more sterile, dull aspects. There’s not an abundance of chaos showing up, but almost its opposite. But I think I understand this all more now through this image of the gray matter. You describe a chaotic childhood and also lineage of addiction, and you have a feeling that your relationships tend to be more emotional than most. You’re also clearly trying hard to sort through your life. In waking life, you pay attention to your physical health as best as you can, and you’re working on sorting through how to deeply manifest who you are, but you’re stuck. As your dream reflects, you’re trying to release things but “it’s hard to get out.”

Okay, so where does this leave us?

Remember that the brain is plastic. That means that the brain is not a static organ, it is constantly transforming, as you are. Damage incurred in our lives can be healed. And as the yogic path has known for millennia, you have the capacity to heal yourself. Do not despair. Certain practices of mindfulness and study can increase the amount of gray matter in your brain, changes which reflect and support your capacity to slow decision making as well as reactivity.

The past can be erased, so to speak, by the integration and digestion of what happened. It it not a matter of simply forgetting or ignoring things. Just as a piece of a food cannot be left undigested in our stomachs without making us sick, life experiences that are not processed will only fester or irritate us. Once our experiences are deeply digested, however, their nutrients are distributed throughout our systems and the waste can be healthily discarded. What is left is fertile soil for new growth. This may take consistent attention and inward focus to manifest, requiring that you learn about yourself as a unique being.

With love of yourself and deep forgiveness, take an interest in your emotional life and your lineage, as you have taken an interest in your physical health in the past. Mine it for its lessons. Do not focus exclusively on the present experiences, but allow yourself the space and time to explore your history. Write your story. Examine your personal myth. Get to know yourself. I think you will find overtime that your digestion and emotional processing will take on a more easy quality to them. As you’re able to provide yourself the space for deep personal awareness, supporting your life force (as well as your literal blood to cleanse and flow easily), your dreams will begin to reflect more abundance and richness, as will your life. Images evolve just as we do, and with the right kind of love and focus, you will see that your dreams will transform and you will be able to manifest the life you seek.

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

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5 comments

  1. Pingback: Another Poop Dream. “I Find the Toilet at the Last Minute.” | Jungian Psychotherapy and Dream Interpretation from the practice of Portland Psychotherapist, Satya Byock
  2. Alex

    Dear Satya

    I’ve recently had a dream about faeces similar to the ones you’ve previously explained. I’m sitting on the toilet but once I’m done I can’t wipe myself clean so I decide to wash myself with water and my fingers. I begin but then forget about it. I don’t clean my hands afterwards I just stop what I’m doing and move onto something else but still thinking that I should take the time to clean myself properly.
    I’d really appreciate your interpretation.

    • satyabyock

      Thanks for sharing this dream. I think you’ve almost interpreted your own dream in what you wrote. I’m going to quote you, but replace a few words: “I’m sorting through my life and emotions but once I’m done I can’t fully release it all so I decide to wash myself with water and my fingers. I begin but then forget about it. I don’t clean my hands afterwards I just stop what I’m doing and move onto something else but still thinking that I should take the time to clean myself properly.”

      It sounds like you’re partially aware that you’re taking your process out into the world with you. That the mess of your inner life is heading out with you into your day, that it’s getting into the things you do and touch (hands). You’re trying to clean yourself, to clean it all up, but it’s still getting into everything you do. Therapy is good for these moments! A good therapist who you trust to help you to clean yourself–understand your process and emotions and purify things so you can also be “cleanly” involved in the outside world. It’s not one or the other.

      Your response and thoughts are welcomed!

  3. JennyG

    Dr. Byock, I could use some help and the dreams are only part of it. Last night I dreamed a was having a bowel movement. My ex husband was there with me and he had to go, too, but the poop would not stop coming out of me. It was not difficult to push but it seemed endless. I felt pressure to finish so he could go, as he was standing right there next to me ready to pull down his pants. The color of my feces was golden brown and it felt soft and warm. I was enjoying myself but conflicted by the presence of my ex.
    Two nights prior, I dreamed I pooped in the bed. I was in a studio apartment belonging to 2 of my clients – a gay female couple couple. Their place was crooked, like a fun house and very messy. I was partially covered on a sofa bed and pushing very hard to defecate. They were talking to me and all I could focus on was making a painful bowel movement. Once I realized I pooped I felt relieved, but then ashamed and I had to begin at once discreetly cleaning up with the few kleenex tissues I had on hand – the rest was done with my hands, which became soiled.

    • satyabyock

      Hi Jenny, thanks for writing. These are some important dreams. I’d like to ask you to take an hour to read through the interpretation above, as well as some of the responses to other questions. See if you can feel into what’s happening here for you. Somehow your emotional process seems to be getting impeded by others, but there’s more to it. Take some time with it. Explore those relationships. See what you uncover and share it here.

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