Posted by: Jenny Davidow | November 23, 2010

Dreaming of My Ex

Dreaming of My Ex
 (C) 2018 By Jenny Davidow, M.A.
When your marriage has ended painfully, the last thing you want is to go back there over and over again in your dreams.
Is it some cruel trick, after your divorce, to find yourself revisiting scenes from your marriage for ten, twenty, or even thirty years? What purpose could this recurring dream serve?

Many women who still dream of their ex wonder if they’re stuck in the past. Or are they still connected to their ex through frustrated love or anger? Some feel as though their recurring dreams are, unjustly or not, a punishment for the past.

The problem is, most people who dream of their ex are trying to understand the meaning with their rational mind.

Dreams are the theatre of your subconscious mind. When you sleep, your conscious mind lets go of control, the curtain goes up, and the dream theatre players come out onto the stage.

These dream characters play every role you can imagine, and a few more that you’d never expect. They can do all the things and express all the feelings that your “executive function” or conscious mind censors while you’re awake. As a result, your dream theatre gives you stories that surprise and mystify you. That’s because your dreams provide information and insight in ways that your conscious mind never would.

Dreams operate on very different rules than your rational mind. Let me give you an example.

At a recent dream workshop, Sarah (not her real name) told me, “I’ve been dreaming of my ex-husband for twenty years.”

Sarah kept wondering, “Am I stuck in the past? Do I have something more to finish with him? What’s going on?”

I told Sarah, “The trouble is that when someone we know appears in a dream, we tend to take such dreams literally: Your conscious mind thinks you’re dreaming about him.”

But every symbol in your dreams has been chosen by your deeper mind, so it reflects part of your consciousness, part of you. All the symbols, including an ex-husband, represent less-conscious parts of you.
In short:

  • Every dream is about your relationship with you.
  • Even troubling dreams offer valuable information about how you can be more in balance right now, by connecting with a less-conscious part of you.
  • Dreams are always about the present – even when they seem to be about the past.

But why do dreams repeat?

Dreams or nightmares that repeat over a period of weeks, months or years are like a big neon sign that says: “Pay attention! This is important!”

To figure out what the dream is trying to tell you, you first need to get past your conscious mind, which likes to run the show. Like a busy executive, your rational mind has a habit of ignoring or dismissing information that interferes or contradicts its assumptions and expectations.

Your dreaming mind offers the complementary side to your waking intelligence. In dreams and daydreams, you dip into a vast reservoir of nonverbal knowing that is based on body signals and emotions that you weren’t even aware of while awake.

In a dream session later, Sarah and I went deeper to understand and resolve her dream.

In Sarah’s dream, she and her husband are moving in together. They are moving boxes into their new home, and all the while she’s saying to herself, “Why am I doing this? Why am I here, with him? I don’t want to be.”

Since dreams often point out problems we are having in the present by associating them with the past, I asked, “Is there a situation in your present life in which you feel you are doing something that you don’t want to do?”

She answered, “Yes, at work. I hate my job.” Then she added that she often wondered “Why am I here?” when she attended group activities – in waking life. Now she avoided social gatherings whenever she could.

I was beginning to see a connection between Sarah’s present life and her recurring dreams of her ex.

Rather than analyze or interpret the dream for Sarah, I introduced her to Inner Dialogue, a method I developed to let dreamers discover for themselves the messages each symbol offers.

I asked Sarah to role-play and speak as her “ex.” I told her, “Speaking as any symbol that is not ‘you’ in the dream will increase awareness of this less-conscious part.”

Now Sarah shifted into a more receptive state so new information could come through:

Sarah’s ‘ex’ said, “Here we are moving in together, but I can tell by your expression that you don’t want to be here. I feel powerless to change your mind. But I am waiting and hoping.”

Afterwards, Sarah told me that she saw her husband as weak and powerless.

I asked Sarah, “In your present life, are you critical of the part of yourself that wants to connect with others?”

“Oh, yeah,” Sarah replied. “I see being vulnerable as being weak and defenseless.”

Long ago, Sarah had decided to reject this part of her. Maybe it was when her marriage ended, or maybe years before. Sarah’s asking “Why am I here?” suggested that she no longer knew why she’d want to be in a relationship, including having a relationship with this softer part of herself.

The reason Sarah was dreaming of her ex over and over for 20 years was because her subconscious wanted her to reclaim the ‘vulnerable’ part of herself.

The deeper intelligence in her knew that to live fully, she needed to be both strong and soft, safe and open. This is the challenge of all relationships, with others and with oneself.

The first step to resolving this repeating dream was to find some value in the symbol that at first we rejected as ‘bad’ or ‘weak.’ Through Inner Dialogue, we discover that these parts of us aren’t all bad, after all. Even a ‘negative’ symbol like an ex-spouse brings us new awareness of something in us that could bring added dimension and wholeness to our lives.

Dreams ask us to get to know parts of ourselves that have been shut away from conscious awareness. Our rational mind has feared that these rejected parts would take over.  But accepting these parts as having value does not mean the ‘bad’ parts will run us. Rather, turning toward a less-conscious part with interest and acceptance simply means that we acknowledge we have those feelings. As a result, they won’t run us by hiding out in the subconscious.

Once we can accept the characters and symbols in our dreams as parts of us, we take the first step toward giving gentle self-acceptance to ourselves.

Through exploring her dream with Inner Dialogue, Sarah was learning how to acknowledge her vulnerable feelings without censoring, judging and struggling. As she learned to give herself more acceptance and compassion, she would begin to see others, and their vulnerability, with more acceptance and understanding. Very naturally, this shift would ripple out to her waking life. Compassionhas begun with herself and opens her to be genuinely compassionate toward others.

Sarah’s recurring dream had opened the door to a deeper understanding of herself. At first, her conscious, literal interpretation of the dream prevented any movement toward insight. But as she did the Inner Dialogue, she recognized that there was much more to her dream – and herself.

Now Sarah was starting to realize that dreaming of her ‘ex’ meant that she was working out how to be in better relationship with herself. Further, her repeating dreams were asking her to learn how to be in relationship, with herself and others, because she wanted to be.

With a few adaptations to personalize for Sarah, I led her through a short dream meditation.
(This visualization is a feature I created to help resolve a recurring dream. I invite my readers to try it out for themselves.)

I’d like you to imagine your dream again.
Only now, when you see your ex, you can imagine it’s no longer his face – it’s yours.
When you see your ex, now you realize she is a part of you
that you’ve pushed away and kept at arm’s length for a very long time.

This other part of you is offering you something of value,
something that can give you more inner peace and comfort.

You’ve been pushing her away, but she wants to move in together,
she wants to be connected with you, be whole.

This other part of you has been waiting and hoping for a very long time.
Notice if you can let go of your judgments of her…
and let yourself soften a little toward her now.

Maybe you are more interested now in getting to know her better.
You can soften a little at a time, wanting to understand her,
to find value in what she offers…

And you can look into her eyes…
You can see her looking back at you with kindness and affection.
She wants to connect with you, she wants to be close.

When you’re ready, reach out your hand to her.
Feel her hand in yours.

A little at a time, you can discover how being connected with her will help you.
You may find she can help you to be more open and connected to your heart.

You may understand that she has a certain strength, a strength and tenderness you need.
Because being open and vulnerable takes strength, because it’s a choice…
It’s a choice that helps you to feel more alive…

And very gradually, as you get to know this part of you.
And as you feel more connected with her again,
you will notice that you feel more comfortable,
more flexibile and resilient.

And you will enjoy being more in the moment, open to life.

Sarah was very relieved. She no longer regarded this dream to be about her ‘ex.’ In contrast, now it was a pleasure to reflect on the dream as about her relationship with herself, something having to do with her present life. She realized that she had the power to understand and improve her inner relationship.

Sarah told me she would practice the meditation I gave her every day. Her acceptance of the softer and more vulnerable part of her would grow over time. Turning toward this previously disconnected or “divorced” part of herself would cause a profound shift — in both her dreams and her life. In a short time, she no longer needed to be ‘dreaming of her ex.’

Copyright 2018. Please reprint only with author name and live link back to this blog.

Dear Reader:  In my book, Embracing Your Subconscious,  I provide steps to help you dialogue as the parts of you that appear in dreams — so you can explore and gain acceptance of a hidden part of you that may at the moment have your ex’s face in dreams, and/or a part that may still hold the unresolved emotions of a younger self.  Check out my book excerpt on my website. You can also buy the book as an ebook, or other products for understanding dreams, at my webstore.

Learn more about dreams!

Click here to buy Jenny’s ebook and download it now!

“Embracing Your Subconscious –
Bringing All Parts of You into Creative Partnership”

Read a free excerpt of Jenny’s book by clicking the book title above.

Copyright 2018 by Jenny Davidow.

When reprinting, please include author name and live link back to https://nightmarerelief.wordpress.com

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Posted by: Jenny Davidow | June 21, 2010

Tidal Wave Dreams

Tidal Wave Dreams

Tsunami dream

Posted by: Jenny Davidow | March 15, 2010

Nightmares: Shifting from Fear to Inner Peace

Sometimes I wonder what he dreams about.

 

 

Nightmares – Shifting from Fear to Inner Peace

by Jenny Davidow

      “This resolution to my old recurring nightmare was an epiphany.”

 

Dreaming is a universal experience. If dreams didn’t serve an important function, they would have been dropped by thousands of years of evolution.

Like me, you’ve probably watched your dog or cat dreaming: the feet tremble and churn through the air as your pet dreams he is running and jumping. He may breathe heavier and whimper, reacting to something he encounters in dreamland.

My cat Ziggy does this. But when he’s awake, I think his worst fear is of the VCR. Whenever I turn it on, it whirs and clicks, the red and green lights come on, and he freaks out. This silver box seems alive to him. It is something mysterious he can’t understand. Its inner workings are completely hidden to him.

As soon as it comes alive, Ziggy jumps and his eyes get big. His ears flex this way and that. He goes into stalking mode. He runs up to it wanting to scratch its green and red eyes out. Then he vaults a foot in the air when the DVD drawer pops out. Not knowing its purpose, he finds the VCR very stressful, an intruder. Sometimes I wonder if he has nightmares about it.

Ziggy’s reaction to the VCR reminds me of how many people react to their distressing dreams and nightmares.

Though these strange stories come from inside of us, they are something mysterious and alarming whose purpose we can’t understand.

Bad dreams seem like intruders that break in, make us jump, and leave us shaken and bruised.

The Inner Battle

I began noticing nightmares at about age 8.

I had a recurring dream that I was a soldier on a battlefield, running and afraid, overwhelmed by the opposing army.

In my early 20’s I explored many ways to understand dreams and developed my own steps, the Inner Dialogue, to explore my dreams and nightmares. Through the Inner Dialogue, I learned about a hidden part of me that, surprisingly, offered helpful messages in every dream, even the scary ones. I was able to finally decode my battlefield dreams.

Then I was amazed to have another — but very different — battlefield dream, ten years after that nightmare had morphed into a different theme.

In the new dream, I am meeting with the “enemy” on the battlefield, to negotiate a peace.

I see the other person face to face at last. We are up close and I can look into his eyes. I can tell from his expression and the light in his eyes that he, too, is ready for peace. The battle is finally over.

This resolution to my old recurring nightmare was an epiphany. I realized that something deep in my subconscious had been touched. My dreamwork while awake had shifted the dream from fear and destruction to peaceful reconciliation. This was only the beginning of a very significant shift in all of my dreams.

In the 30 years since my first dramatic ‘making peace’ dream, I have come to appreciate that most of us have an inner battle raging inside us, but it is hidden. The battle represents an inner conflict that may continue for years. Sometimes we recognize the inner conflict. Occasionally we connect our frightening dreams to our conflicting emotions and the events that may have caused them. But more often the internal grief, fear or conflict, and the life circumstances in which the problem arose, are buried deep in the subconscious and hidden from our view. Except in our dreams.

Do you have recurring nightmares?

Some studies indicate as many as 30% of us have a nightmare once a month. That figure is probably too low. In our culture, people tend not to remember dreams and don’t like to report these things. Dreams are given little attention or value because, the assumption goes, we have no choice or control over them anyway.

When I teach dream workshops, I ask my students, “Who has had recurring dreams?” Usually about half say yes. Then I ask, “Who has had or is still having nightmares?” At least a third say yes. Some have had the same nightmare for their entire lives.

Ninety years of feeling ‘lost’ in her dreams

‘Mary,’ a woman of 94, took my workshop and said she’d had the same nightmare for 90 years. Mary was remarkable. She came to the workshop with a very clear intention, motivated to finally understand what had caused her recurring distress.

In Mary’s dream, she was lost and couldn’t find her way. What made it nightmarish was a terrible feeling of powerlessness and loneliness, which she told me she’d endured throughout her life.

With my help, using the simple techniques I taught in the workshop, she had a dramatic revelation. She finally understood where that feeling had begun, at age 5, and why.

She told me that when she was born, her mother had died, leaving her alone with her father. As a small child she had perceived his emotional withdrawal as a sign that he did not love her. Now, with Inner Dialogue, for the very first time Mary was able to feel a loving connection with her father.

Her eyes filled with tears as she was finally able to say, “Daddy, where were you?” Then her eyes lit up when her “father” (as a symbol) told her he loved her. He wanted her to feel secure and happy.  He said he was sorry he hadn’t been a better father.

After the workshop, Mary continued her Inner Dialogue with her father. Positive shifts in her dreams emerged, and her wellbeing while awake also improved. She now had the tools she needed to ease the burden of the past — and to experience more comfort and inner peace in the present.

Read the full article about Mary, “Healing a Recurring Dream” at www.JennyDavidow.com

In my next posts, I will go into more detail to illustrate the way dreams can shift and change over time, especially when we pay attention to them.

Copyright 2010 by Jenny Davidow.
Reprint only with live link back to https://nightmarerelief.wordpress.com.

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