In my dream, I am with friends at the beach. It is foggy and the waves are crashing further out, at the edge of a wide expanse of flattened sand. My friends and I are laughing, care-free, and enjoying the fun.
We run out across the open beach to the breakers and wait for the force of the water to slam into us, then we ride the force of the water back up the sand as far as it takes us.
I am the first to notice when the waves start to get bigger, their force stronger. Or if the others notice, they don’t let on. I look at my friends but they’re still laughing and riding the waves, carefree.
The fear rises in me, mirroring the water rising around me. The breakers are now over our heads but we stay on, jumping into them and riding their crests.
I have read before that, in dreams, water represents the subconscious mind. If the water in your dreams is calm, it is supposed to mean you are at peace. If it is turbulent, then your subconscious is troubled.
To dream of being under water represents waking life situations where you feel overwhelmed by a problem or negative emotions. You may be in over your head in a situation and are overwhelmed by your emotions.
To dream of an ocean represents powerful uncertainty in your life. To swim or fall into the ocean represents a confrontation or struggle with uncertainty. You are “head deep” in a problem. You may feel overwhelmed by a problem or challenge.
As much as I think I’m doing better, there are days I feel I’ve been set back. And days I wonder if maybe I haven’t made as much progress as I think. I just don’t know. Maybe I won’t know until I return to work and see what happens.
After the waves rose in the dream, I think I got out of the water and watched from a distance. Perhaps that’s where I am now, retreating from the uncertainty, watching from a distance.
But I can’t stand back forever. I need to work towards finding calmer seas.
The dream morphed into another one. In the new dream, I was sixteen again and asking my Dad for money so I could go to summer camp.
He didn’t say yes right away but instead asked whether I was being upfront with the camp, whether I had told them that I was on stress leave and seeing a psychologist. I hadn’t. And I knew that if I wasn’t honest with the camp, he wouldn’t pay for me to go.
But I didn’t want to tell them that I was unbalanced (dream-me’s interpretation of my emotional state). And I didn’t want to feel unbalanced. I wanted to focus on the fun, the laughing and frolicking I had felt at some previous visit to a beach.
I awoke shortly after, with no resolution. But as I moved through the morning routine, I realized something. Lately, I have been ignoring whatever it is that I struggle with, whatever it is about me that contributed to me being on stress leave.
Instead of working through things, I think I got tired. And lazy. And I have just been doing what I feel like doing. I have been writing fiction and hanging around. I haven’t been writing as many introspective pieces, I haven’t been going to yoga, or running, or even going in search of a new psychologist.
I haven’t been facing up to things. I have been hiding. Taking a break. And maybe that’s what I needed. Everyone needs to take a break at some point. Even from self-improvement.
But I think what my dreams were trying to tell me, what I have realized on another level, is that it’s time to get back to it. Time to get back to working through my issues, to facing the sources of my stress and anxiety and learning how to cope with them.
It may not be fun, it may not be a day at the beach, but if I don’t want the waves to overwhelm me, it is necessary.