Can dreams be battle scars? or How Freud managed to screw up my dreams.

I had studied dreams once, quite extensively, spurred on by an interesting YouTube channel and multiple psychology websites I found on the net. Night terrors, sleep walking and more satisfyingly psychological-sounding things did encourage me more into going further into this study. But, as you might have predicted by this point, I soon hit a wall called Freud. It later on did feel amazing tossing around terms like id, ego and superego. I won’t lie. It still makes me feel smart as I type it out.

Then I went on to try and learn how to interpret these dreams. It was fun reading about them, I’ll admit. But when the time came for me to actually use my newfound knowledge on my friends, I wasn’t sure how to tell them that their dreams of entering elevators were actually indicative of an overactive sex drive. I hadn’t learnt to roll my eyes and ignore these stuff at that point, so my interest in dream-telling quickly dwindled.

It was right after this time period that I started experiencing sleep paralysis. What makes sleep paralysis so scary is the realization that you cannot move a single muscle, and not much of the nightmare itself. The first time I woke up and found that my body had locked itself into place, I was terrified. Then I actually woke up, completely disoriented, not knowing how long I was in that haze, and not knowing how much of it actually happened. Did my mother and sister come and stare down at me wordlessly as I slept? Or had I dreamt that up? There was literally no way of telling.

Having never heard of it before in my studies, I was very sure it was a sign of early death. Since I didn’t know how to explain my situation to my parents, I cried a little and then went on Google. Then of course I found out that I wasn’t dying, and that what I was experiencing was an actual thing, and felt a little bit like an idiot. I did cry some more, though, after I told my parents – especially after they suggested I visit a doctor.

At this point in my life I didn’t know what to think of my dreams, because a large part of my sleep was dreamless up till the hazy moments when I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not. I then learnt to listen to the cues that my body gave me and avoid sleep paralysis, so that they were almost fully removed from my life, but it does catch me off guard at times.

Then I was changing schools, and leaving people I’d shared a classroom with for eight or so years. This meant new friends, and since we would be graduating in a mere two years, the pressure to quickly make strong bonds of friendships was an unconscious thing that all my new classmates felt.

Because of this peculiar pressure, I started measuring milestones as I created friendships, and one of those milestones were our dreams. How often does someone come up to me and say you were in my dream last night? How many times do I dream of that person? Now that I think about it, the milestone should have appeared somewhere between wanna come over for a sleepover and hey guess what I’m gay. It was a personal bonus when I dreamt of my entire gang of friends, and I’d recount to all of them our heroic adventures, and they’d laugh and I’d feel great. Then again, I could be dead wrong about this elaborate theory of dreams and bonds, and probably have to rethink all my friendships. But the fact that the dream even happened must mean something, I feel.

But either way, my little theory does hold some merit, because when you dream of someone you’ll naturally narrate to them the chain of events, and this might of course spark more conversation about the particulars of your dream. You will tell them things you never thought you’ll tell them. They will need to know every detail about your old school’s rather unpleasant mentor who was chasing the both of you in your dream, and then of course you’ll have to tell them about the school’s floor plans and layout so you can then explain to them how you proceeded to jump off the third floor and then ride on a waterfall to the sports ground. So, you see? Somewhere there, it makes sense.

School then offered me some more perspective on dreams, and then I had to dredge up all of my childhood dreams and carefully go through them to ensure I was a normal child while growing up. I think I passed that test well enough. But then again I’d filled in the gaps of most of my dreams because my memory is terrible, so I suppose they’re all mostly unreliable now. I don’t let that bother me too much.

Then Freud and I were introduced to each other once more, and this time with a proper study into the Oedipus complex that I’d carefully avoided before and all sorts of weirdly sexual concepts that my psych teacher rather bravely covered with a completely straight face. I still admire her for that.

The dreams that I had then were populated with what I thought were generally normal themes. I could, for example, dream of going shopping, but I ended up waking in a cold sweat with Freud flashing neon lights above my head saying YOU DREAMED OF YOUR SUBZIWALA, NOW WHAT MIGHT THAT MEAN?

Thankfully, this time I’d learnt to take what he said with a pinch of salt, so I could manage to maintain a largely guiltless memory of my dreams. I pride myself on my skills of living in denial, and ignoring relatively important things. Not putting too much thought into my dreams is something I can work with.

Now, there are some dreams I have that do make me want to book an appointment with a local psychologist. But I control that urge. It’s the dreaded curse of studying psychology, I tell myself. It’s a tragic and noble tale. Wear your disturbing dreams like medals of honor. But in secret, when no one’s there to see them. You can look back on them later at your own pace. For now, don’t tell anyone.

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