Asleep or awake?

IMG_0351Last night I dreamed I had insomnia, all night long. (Well, that’s not entirely true – I did have one dream in which I showed up somewhere wearing only half my clothing, but I think that’s for another post. I’m embarrassed even thinking about it.)

Anyhoo, I woke up wondering if I had actually had insomnia, or whether I, in fact, just dreamed about it. Was I waking up all night and, in a half-asleep stupor, ascribing my insomnia to a dream state? The details of the dream aren’t clear enough for me to separate the conscious from the unconscious. And I am a little groggy this morning, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

I may find out, later today, when an actual lack of sleep catches up with me and I doze off into my food over a planned lunch with a friend. Or fail to string any coherent words together when my kids arrive home from school. But, honestly, that’s not all that out of the ordinary either.

It’s not unlike some other early morning thoughts I’ve had, of the guilty variety. If you do something in a dream that you would not normally do, are you acting out a real impulse, or is it just, like many passing thoughts, completely impossible?

And if someone does something to you in a dream, are they guilty or innocent? I’ve started many days angry with my spouse or children for something they inflicted on me in a dream. I know that’s not rational, but it is what it is.

I can’t quite make this out, so I pose the question to you, readers: If you’re dreaming about insomnia are you awake or are you asleep?

This is a Daily Post writing prompt – ten minutes of writing, no more, no less. Which explains why it leaves a little something to be desired.

#1: Anxiety dreams involving my kids

desertIn a recent post, I promised to provide some advice to those whose tortured search terms hit my blog. Today’s installment: Anxiety dreams involving my kids.

My first thought when reading this phrase was, wait – don’t all your anxiety dreams involve your kids? But of course, they don’t. There are plenty of topics to disturb one’s sleep. I have lately had a string of anxiety dreams about my house, but I won’t elaborate because I think I can get another blog post out of it.

But I digress. If you have kids I’d be amazed if you didn’t have anxiety dreams about them, nor do I think it’s hard to figure out the underlying fears that cause them:

  1. You’re afraid they’ll get lost
  2. You’re afraid they’ll get hurt
  3. You’re afraid they’ll hurt others
  4. You’re afraid they’ll drive you to financial ruin
  5. All of the above

This is perfectly normal. When you awake from one of these dreams, just take a few deep breaths and decide what punishment or suspension of privileges you will inflict on your children for whatever it is they did in your dream.

Strangely, some of the most anxious dreams I’ve had about my kids have happy endings. I once dreamed I was heading down a stairwell to a basement-level restaurant with a stroller containing my infant son. At the top of the stairwell, I let go of the carriage á la the pivotal scene from The Untouchables. As it raced toward the bottom, my husband gallantly stepped up to the bottom of the stairs and caught it. Crisis averted.

One of the few dreams I’ve had where my husband was credited with the competence he likely deserves.


A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Other anxiety dreams

line pleaseIn my last post, I relayed my newest anxiety dream involving an event I struggle with almost every day – getting my kids on the school bus. It made me realize that all the anxiety dreams I have run along the same lines:

  • I am drastically underprepared for the task at hand, but…
  • Despite almost insurmountable odds, I’m convinced that I have just enough time to overcome the situation and no one will know the difference.

Maybe this indicates a deep-down level of confidence? Or am I just delusional?Looking for a little insight, I decided to do some research to see what I could find out about these dreams and what I learned is…I feel unprepared for something in my life. Oh. I was hoping for something a little less obvious.

I did learn, however, that my dreams run along incredibly common themes. Nothing unique here, although I do have a couple of variations:

Late for a trip

I realize suddenly that I am nearly late for a plane that is transporting me to a business trip/vacation/important event. I have not yet missed the plane. Rather, I can still make it if I kick it into high gear. The remainder of the dream is me rushing around like a maniac trying to stuff items in a suitcase, clock ticking, convinced I will still make the plane.

Late for a trip, airport security version

I arrive at the airport in a rush to catch a plane. As I hurry through security I am waved out of line and taken to a table where they open my bag and systematically empty all my possessions out in front of everyone. Items spill everywhere. Underwear, cosmetics, weird things I don’t know why I packed. I’m going to make the plane, but not without some inconvenience and embarrassment. (As I recount this one, I’m getting the uncomfortable feeling that this really happened and I’ve just convinced myself it was a dream.)

Taking an exam

I am on my way to a final exam when I realize that not only have I not studied for the test, I can’t remember the last time I was at the class and I haven’t read the textbook. Convinced I have just enough time to cram for the exam I pull out a text that’s about 800 pages long – it’s always a biology textbook – and start reading.

The exam, I must be getting older version

Similar to the dream above, only in this case I’m the professor about to give an exam, and as I’m en route I realize I haven’t written it yet. The remainder of the dream is me trying to figure out how I can produce an exam out of thin air in virtually no time at all. Perhaps I can repurpose an old exam?

In a play

This one is always the same with the one exception that sometimes I am the star of the play and other times I am an understudy who has just been told I will be going on for the star in a few moments. In both cases, I suddenly realize I do not know the lines. As the curtain rises, I stand backstage trying to memorize them, convinced that somehow I will bluff my way through it. I couldn’t find any reference to this when I cruised common dream themes, but it clearly seems right up the same alley as the others – I am woefully unprepared, but I can probably fake it.

My research did tell me that there are common recurring dreams I don’t experience – thank goodness – that involve:

  • Public nudity
  • Being chased
  • Snakes
  • Tornadoes
  • …and, I think the worst one, being unable to find a toilet

But it’s clear to me that my dreams reflect the way I am living my life right now – always one step ahead of disaster. A disorganized, barely competent person masquerading as an organized competent person. Now everyone knows. (If you didn’t already.)

What are your recurring dreams? Do you know, when you wake up, what’s causing the dream?

A new anxiety dream. Goody.

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.

detritusNot 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.