I had a bout with the flu last week that caused, among other things, a brand new anxiety dream. Maybe that’s because as I sat in bed moving steadily through an entire box of kleenex I watched my family fall apart at the seams. It appears they have some difficulty navigating everyday life without my constant intervention.
Not only could they not manage their own affairs, they could not care for a sick person. Really, I could have died in bed waiting for someone to bring me something to eat or drink. (On Friday morning, when I asked my husband for a glass of water he said, “You have a glass of water.” I pointed out that it was the one I had gotten myself on Wednesday.)
While this bug made the rounds, I was the only one who got clobbered. My husband managed to avoid it after I doctored him up at the first sign of symptoms, my oldest and youngest missed only a day of school, and my hearty middle kid only threw up once. (Unfortunately, it was on a snowshoe hike on a class trip. He just vomited and kept on snowshoeing. Didn’t even tell me for two days. Sorry, other parents whose kids were on snowshoe trip.)
Anyway, the flu that keeps on giving has presented me with a whole new anxiety dream:
A client I barely know is picking me up to transport me to a meeting. He arrives just as I am packing my three kids off to school. Disorder reigns. We are at a kitchen table littered with half-done homework and various other detritus. The arrival of the school bus is imminent. In a panic, I begin to stuff items in backpacks while shouting hurried instructions to my kids. Oldest and youngest leave the house and head for the bus. Middle kid, for some reason, is carting a small, heavy black-and-white TV to school as a donation. (A donation for what, you ask? How do I know? It’s a dream.) He and I leave the house in a rush, leaving my client to wait in our entryway. My son’s backpack hangs off his shoulder and he breathlessly lugs the TV as I race alongside him with a grocery bag full of other stuff he apparently needs for his day. We arrive at the bus stop to find four busses, not one, and I have no idea which one he is to get on. Neither does he.
Mercifully, I woke up there so I did not have to try to convince my client that I am actually a competent person. I can believe (at least unless I have the dream again) that I returned to the house composed and headed off to the meeting with my dignity intact.
This episode made me realize that a majority of my anxiety dreams have something in common – I am in a situation for which I am underprepared, frantic, and late, but with just enough time to recover if I put forth a herculean effort. Sort of like real life, only real life squared.
In my next post, I’ll run through some of the recurring themes. (I’ll skip the ones where I was about to be executed, or in a plane about to crash. Those were dark times – we won’t go there. This is a humor blog!) Perhaps you can then tell me if you, too, have experienced similar dreams. Or if I should seek therapy. Or maybe just head back to bed with my kleenex.