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: A few times a year, I dream about my ex with another woman. In the dream, he is either dating someone new or his focus is just somewhere other than on me. In the dream, I struggle desperately against this. I hit, kick, punch, pull, do something physical to keep them away from each other. Sometimes, I hurt him in some way. I try and do something to catch his attention that is being diverted away from me, but the effort is fruitless since he doesn’t return the attention I am looking for. In some dreams, I even hit the other girl he is with. The dream feels very physical. I always wake up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and sad.
A: Oh, dear. These dreams are the worst. As you say, sad, overwhelming, just… bleh. And they’re so common! You are certainly not the only one who dreams of exes and wrestles at night with the ins-and-outs of relationship woes. I know you’re a little embarrassed about sharing this dream, so I want to state unequivocally that you shouldn’t be. Ambivalence around break-ups is normal, people we love and have loved are hard to let go of, and the confusion around these ups and downs are likely to show-up in our dream lives.
What’s interesting about this dream is the level of physicality involved. You are really exerting some effort with this one! You’re clearly struggling hard around something to do with this ex. The dream is likely reflecting the situation you two are in, but not literally. One possible scenario, is that your on-going struggle and interactions with him in waking life may be hurting him in some way, as you state plainly in your description of the dream that you sometimes do so. I wonder, how is he doing with the current dynamic between you two? How are you feeling about your behavior towards him when these kinds of dreams arise? Are you pushing and pulling him at the same time?
The most plain reading of this dream may be the one most valuable for you: you’re struggling with (or against) the relationship with your ex in some way and would almost certainly benefit from focusing some time exploring your feelings around it (on a deeper level than you likely already). Don’t be afraid to go there. The attention spent with your complicated feelings will relieve some tension that you’re carrying around with you. The first question to begin the explorations for yourself, given the content of the dream, may be simply: How do you feel about the fact that you’re no longer together? What attention do you want from him still? Let what arises with this question arise. Follow the emotion into whatever images and other memories may come-up and maybe even write them down.
There is another layer that could be valuable to explore too if those first questions feel too charged to go into just yet. It’s a harder layer, more complicated, but it’s a more symbolic one, sitting just below all that emotional stagnation. Themes related to union (or dis-union) that show-up in dreams can reflect our relationship to the integration of something within ourselves (think “coming-together”). What I mean by this is that there may be something to do with elements specific to your own psychic make-up, your own feminine and masculine sides in love and companionship, that are in conflict now. They’re your yin and yang pieces. By engaging the subtleties of your feelings around love and self-worth on a regular basis, like a little yoga practice, you may find over time that these dreams soften and the conflict disappears.
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Satya is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in applicable dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and the stage of life between young adulthood and mid-life.