happiness is finding the place where being yourself is exactly what's needed

Thursday, November 8, 2012

are you SURE i never had a cat?

i'd like to take just a few minutes this morning to talk about something that can be super annoying: dream memories.

you know what i mean. when in your dream you remember another dream you had months, maybe years, before.

the problem with dream memories is that they have a way of actually feeling even more real to me than real memories, and that's one of the ways i tell them apart from stuff that actually happened. but i always wake up with that same feeling in my head, afterward, that "holy crap how could i have forgotten that?" sensation.

in dreams, of course, emotions are heightened, so something too ridiculous to ever happen in real life could be a catastrophic event in a dream. and the emotional impact is part of what makes them so believable.

what my brain seems to be going in this situations is picking through pieces of reality and forging a bunch of shit together that doesn't belong, in order to explain something i'm confused about in real life.

- - -

here's a made up example:

let's say you've always wanted a cat but never had one. so, one time, you have a dream that you have a cat, but you're brain knows you really don't have a cat, so, before you wake up, it gives you a reason why you don't have a cat anymore. at the end of the dream, your friend gets bit by your cat and takes it away to an animal shelter.

so, years later, still with no cat, you have a dream again that you're just walking along minding your own damn business, and something triggers the memory of your lost cat. your first thoughts are "holy crap, it all makes sense now! that's why i don't have a cat, and why Larry has always been so awkward around me! how could i have forgotten that he stole my cat?"

so, then, you wake up, all ready to go punch Larry in the face for stealing your cat.

the dream feels so real, real enough that it probably is just as real, at least to your brain, at least for a moment, as anything that's ever really happened. it is now, however, a part of the same reality you share with all these other people, and you realize that once you dissect that.

as you're lying in bad and some part of you is still going "what the fuck?" you remember that Larry lives in another town, and has never visited you at the house in which your dream took place, so, even if you'd ever had a cat there, it never interacted with Larry. besides, you didn't have a cat, your roommate was allergic. your feelings of loss are just an enhanced dream interpretation of the minor sadness you experience daily because you've never had a roommate that allowed pets.

and its good that these things can be realized in a matter of minutes. you don't want to go punch your friend in the face for stealing your cat, when you never even had a cat.

- - -

but here's the most annoying thing, at least for me, about dream memories:

you know why i used a made up example, and not a real dream of mine? because the emotional residue of this shit stays for a long time after, making me not want to talk about the dream ever, no matter how silly it was.

and, for me, what makes these scenarios more difficult to talk about that even my worst and most emotional and tragic and bloody and horrible dreams, is that the emotion behind them usually has a lot to do with shame and/or embarassment. even though they don't make any sense. like getting locked in solitary confinement at work for messing something up.

sometimes i even remember the same scenarios in other dreams over the years. (not necessarily related to my recurring dream themes, with i'll discuss in another post.) and in those later dreams, i tend to get mad at myself for forgetting whatever it was, knowing i recently remembered it and then dismissed it from memory.

- - -

i'm not checking this for typos, so sorry. it's more important to me, right now, that i remedy my lack of coffee, as i just crawled out of bed.