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This doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it makes me feel crazy. Sometimes I dream that my boyfriend did something, but I’m mad at him when I wake up in real life. I dream that he’s cheating on me or planning to break up with me. I know it isn’t really happening, but I can’t get over it for a couple of hours, usually. So I ignore his texts or avoid him until I feel better. What can I do to get over this?
Living A Nightmare
Your problem is actually pretty common, LAN, if that makes you feel any less crazy. Eventually, someone you know will show up in your dream. He or she wears the wrong face, says the wrong thing, uses the wrong name, but you know who it is. Sometimes the villain of the story will be your current partner.
Author Pat Conroy said dreams are the love letters and hate mail of the subconscious. That’s actually a pretty good way to think about it. You know how love letters are made mostly out of air and frustrated sexuality and hope and promises you’re never going to keep? Right. And consider that hate mail is generally written by people who have too much time on their hands and spend it fixating on a celebrity and distorting reality and cutting all those letters out of newspapers. Your dreams are no different. Nightmares take cut-up little pieces of news and truth and ephemera and random things you see in passing and then paste them into paper dolls to play in the theater in your mind. It is a tale told by your neurochemistry, full of beer and pizza, signifying nothing.
The really crazy part is that sometimes these dreams actually signify something. One study published by the New York times that 33 percent of people had had a dream once that had come true. Sometimes the pieces your mind has cut out of reality look really familiar. If you’re dreaming that your boyfriend left you for a pearl-diving octogenarian wearing the uniform of the Israeli Defense Forces, it’s probably just hate mail. If you’re dreaming that your boyfriend is spending too much time with your roommate, and she smiles a little too knowingly sometimes, and you wake to find that she’s wearing his hoodie, then maybe your dreams are trying to tell you something.
Throw out the dream dictionary, LAN. Forget the flying dogs and the door that wouldn’t open. Listen to your gut. Are you really upset at the dream, or are you upset because the dream is a window into a part of your mind you’re trying to ignore? Remember, your subconscious is both much smarter and much crazier than you are. Let it guide you, but keep it on a leash.
Contact Meg at [email protected] to have your personal questions answered anonymously by the Megaphone.