Q: I went to bed with my newly pregnant wife. I was lying with her as I felt something on my right shoulder. When I turn on my phone light I noticed it was a daddy longleg and try killing it. As I freak out thinking of what else may be in bed, I decide to check under where I was lying and notice three other spiders. One was a wolf spider and two were unknown with multiple humps resembling eggs on each back. They were black and gray, large and extremely creepy (unlike a daddy longleg). . . We got out of bed and hit the lights. I shook myself down and brushed my body off and had her help. I then took off my clothes, which I notice still had random insects on them. I went back to the bed and saw that the side I was sleeping on was full of insects coming from the ground to the blanket and into bed. There were 4 large centipedes that crawled into the bed.
The sheet I was laying on in my dream is the wool blanket we use at the fire station where I work. It’s one I always refuse to use as I think its disgusting because people always sleep with it and never wash it.
Where my wife lay, there were no insects of any kind and she had nothing on her when we got out of bed. She stated in my dream that whoever we got the bed from was the issue. I argued saying it’s not the bed but another source of course, and that we needed to have it dealt with and to call an exterminator.
A: Thank you for sharing this dream, and congratulations on your coming baby! You shared this dream with me after finding the interpretation I did of a Spiders-In-Bed dream two years ago. As this is a very common dream, I’m glad to explore the images more deeply here. You will know from my first interpretation that spiders are very often referencing the Mother Complex in dreams. When they show up in dreams related to beds, I pay particular attention because it suggests that your mother is — symbolically speaking — in bed with you. In this case, I would venture that your relationship to your mother is somehow (probably unpleasantly) infecting your relationship with your wife. Having said all that, however, you also note specifically the Daddy Longleg several times, suggesting that your father is also involved here. The first questions you might reflect deeply on (not with your knee-jerk feelings): How are your relationships with your parents influencing you now and on the dawn of becoming a father, how are you feeling? What are your fears?
Your first instinct when you see the Daddy Longleg in the dream is to kill it. This is a red flag to me in regards to how you are living your conscious life, and something I would encourage you to explore. Everyone knows that Daddy Longlegs are harmless spiders. Why do you want to kill it? As a general rule, one’s reaction to other living things in dreams is very telling of one’s conscious relationship to lesser conscious aspects of themselves. Again, I’m curious: are you attempting to deny your feelings related to your father or your feelings related to becoming a father yourself?
When I explored a little more about the Daddy Longleg, I discovered that they are the only spider with a penis, mating directly through penetration (arachnologists, please correct me here if needed!). Again, this specific image points us to questions of procreation. Then, shortly following the Daddy Longleg’s appearance in the dream, other spiders appear — a highly dangerous Wolf Spider for one — and you see humps resembling eggs. Eggs: another image highly suggestive of procreation and new beginnings. Three spiders with eggs on their backs, one spider with a penis. 3+1 = 4, 3 feminine spiders plus 1 masculine spider… very curious, archetypal symbolism here, as the feminine and masculine are interwoven… 3 tends to be a number indicative of the masculine while 4 is a number suggesting feminine wholeness. (Typically, the 3+1 arrangement is the opposite combination; think of the Trinity + the Holy Mother, for instance.) Perhaps this is more complex archetypal symbolism for another time…
As a symbol, the Bed in dreams very often points to the “marriage bed”, a phrase suggesting the very beginnings of a union. Similarly, you can note that a synonym for “Bed” is “Foundation.” The bed is the foundation of the relationship much like a flower bed, the place from which plants and weeds alike can grow. This image is reflected in the way in which you see the insects coming up from the ground. So, in addition to questions of fatherhood, this dream seems to really be directing your attention to the foundation of your marriage. From the way this dream unfolds, I would say you are unconsciously bringing some stuff into your marriage that you need to take a hard look at. The mess in the bed is on your side.
To bring this into very practical language, I would say the following: you are clearly chewing deeply on what it means to be a father right now, consciously or unconsciously. I would venture a guess too that you’ve been moody and overwhelmed. Again, the fact that your side of the bed is covered in insects and that your wife’s side is clean seems to be telling you to be honest about your side of things. Your side is dirty, that’s undeniable. This makes me wonder if you’ve been blaming your wife for things lately, maybe that you two have been fighting a bit, and through your dream, your unconscious is correcting your conscious belief about who’s right and wrong in the marriage. Notice the way you disagree with your wife in the dream: she states, “whoever we got the bed from was the issue.” She’s pointing here to the root of the problem and perhaps is suggesting that your parental influences are infecting your marriage. Again, look at the image of the marriage bed here. Symbolically, your bed, your foundation, came from your parents. You can’t just call an exterminator to kill the problem. Just like killing the Daddy Longleg didn’t make the spiders go away, calling the exterminator to deal with the bed is just pure denial. It’s not going to work. In the dream world, death is just a precursor for resurrection.
You state it clearly, your wife is helping you clean up. Take a good look at that image. I imagine her supporting you to sort through your past and your fears and your feelings. In the process, you’ve been removing clothing, an image suggesting the removal of false layers, of the personas in which we all walk around the world. Good for you. This is a strong symbol in many fairy tales, and shows up in dreams regularly as well. True transformation often comes with the removal of skins or clothes. Accept her help.
Finally, I’ll offer that your association to the wool blanket from work makes me wonder if you’re not bringing work home with you, in particular, other people’s stresses. You’re disgusted by this blanket and yet in the dream it is part of the foundation on which you are sleeping with your wife. How much of your work life is infecting your relationship with your wife?
There is a lot here for you to face, dear Dreamer. You can make a choice, gently but directly look at these issues I raise and whatever else occurs to you while you explore this dream further. Or… try to just kill it, call the exterminator, argue about the roots of things, and live in denial. I would suggest that these insects, your moods and frustrations, your upset words will continue to infest your life and marriage if you don’t deal with the foundation of things. But, as always, the choice is up to you.
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
Q: I am in an academic setting, like a boarding school, and I am not allowed to leave. My mom is there. Two authority figures (at least one of whom was a man) are telling me that they are removing my eye. I am protesting and showing them that I already gave a tooth. They are very adamant and even my mom is saying that I have to do it. I’m furious and frustrated in the dream and continue to argue with them to the point where I am weeping and screaming.
A: Whew! This dream is quite upsetting! I feel chills when I read it, and can imagine you waking-up nervous and terrified. What do those people want from you??
Exploring this dream with you provided a reminder of what’s laying just below the surface of our awareness. We let ourselves acknowledge some of what we’re experiencing in our day-to-day lives, and a lot of the rest of what happens we choose to avoid or aren’t able to fully integrate. You initially shrugged and laughed when you shared this dream: “I think it’s about my student loan debt,” you told me. Hrm. I had my doubts. The emotions in this dream are far too strong to associate with the stress of student loans, unless you anticipate you’ll be on the street soon as a result.
What does resonate with the stress of student loans, however, is the feeling of being owned by someone else because of what they expect from you. The feeling that you are obligated to continue giving of yourself, despite having given a lot already. How does that ring true for you in other ways? When we discussed this, deep waves of emotion began to come to the surface. Things began to sink in for you. You’re a new mother, and between your beloved baby and your husband and the expectations at home, you’re being pulled in a million different directions. There’s a sense of infantilization, of imprisonment. Just take a moment to imagine the feeling of being in a boarding school today and being unable to leave! Just that opening feels a bit like a horror film. Then the dream continues, and you wake up crying and pleading for the authority figures to stop. The injustice of what is being asked of you is palpable.
You did not anticipate feeling so emotional after sharing the dream. As we talked more about what’s been going on in your life, some of the stress shifted into the truer, softer emotions underneath. Emotions that haven’t had much chance to be felt or seen will build-up and “harden.” In the same way that your shoulder may tighten due to stress, thoughts and emotions that aren’t integrated fully can begin to form a knot, a psychic complex, showing-up as characters in your dreams. Exploring the images from dreams can start to loosen-up those knots and allow the emotions caught within them to release.
I asked you about the appearance of your mom in the dream. Why her? As the lone familiar figure in your dream, her presence is likely to be particularly telling. We explored the history of her marriage to your dad and what similar themes may be getting activated for you now. You know some of the history of what was happening in their relationship when you were a baby. Are there feelings of carrying too much of the weight at home? Feelings of losing your independence? You nodded. Much of your former life as a single woman feels unrecognizable at the moment. We discussed this, and discussed what you’ve had to give-up.
There is a great deal of symbolism within the particular images of giving up a tooth, and forcibly losing an eye. These are big ones! As I’ve explored previously, losing a tooth in a dream can point to major life changes (we know those are present), and losing an eye can point to a sense of disorientation, of being rendered blind. You might feel that your ability to vision, to dream, to imagine a new life is being stolen from you. Your imagination, your artful creative side may feel rather distant at the moment. These images also point to the familiar Talmudic saying, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” pointing to notions of equal justice. It makes me wonder further, is there a sense of your needing to atone for something? Maybe a latent guilt that should be explored? Or does it suggest Gandhi’s response, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind,” maybe pointing to battles with your husband that will only hurt you both? These questions take us down another path, but there’s much here left to explore.
My advice? Don’t shirk the emotions around what’s happening in your life right now. Do your best to feel what’s happening these days, even if there’s not much time for it and it seems unimportant to do so. You may not be able to fully control events these days (I’m not sure we ever are), but the way they’re affecting you is real. Talk with your mom about her emotions when she was in this phase of life. Explore, even when it feels silly, your own emotions around what’s happening at home. Allow yourself to feel sad versus just getting mad and frustrated. The loss you’re experiencing is real. The adjustments to this new phase are big. Allow yourself to really listen to the softer layers of what’s going on inside your chest, and behind your eyes. You might be surprised that it will soften the actual events and communication at home as well.
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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