My relationship with my ex-girlfriend ended three years ago. I haven’t seen her face-to-face in months (when I do, we avoid eye contact and are like two passing ships on a dark night). I’m fine with this.
The problem is I keep having dreams about her. And whilst screaming to my subconscious “Why oh why are you doing this to me? Just give me a break!” I can’t figure out why I’m still having these dreams. Most of the time I shrug my dreams off and get on with the day, but I can’t seem to shake the one I had last night.
The dream was her talking to me about our relationship, validating it somewhat, telling me she did care and was sorry etc, that she wanted me back. I’ve had this dream several times. The pseudo-psychologist in me would like to interpret this dream as a straight forward, “You are looking for her to own up to her mistakes of cheating and apologize for moving on with her new boyfriend almost as quickly as she kicked you to the curb.” Some sort of closure I suppose. However, we’ve already had this discussion six months ago, where she said all the things mentioned above, so why do I keep having this dream? I thought the conversation was closure, but in fact is there such a thing? Can closure truly exist?
My life has changed for the better and I’m in such a happy place with myself. I’ve fallen in love with the world, picked up new hobbies and I’m doing things I never thought I would. But why in that case do I sometimes shed a tear over my first girlfriend? Why do I dream about her on a weekly basis? Why do my knees still buckle and heart race a million beats per second as we are passing ships? Does this mean I’m not over her? Or I’m simply not over the hurt of it all? I’m no longer bitter or heartbroken, but I have my moments of uncontrollable overindulgence in chocolate and ice cream triggered by said dreams. I just can’t seem to figure it all out. Three years seems all too long to be hung up on a love that I probably exaggerated in my head. Could you help a lady friend out with some of that thought-provoking, life changing Oprah-style advice.
Anna says:Dream analysis is like my favorite thing ever, second only to being compared to Oprah. So let’s all put on our spelunking gear (no, not for that) and dive into your subconscious!
First of all, I would resist putting a literal interpretation on your ex-girlfriend’s presence in your dreams. Whenever we dream about people, it usually means those people represent an aspect of ourselves. It’s tempting to view your recurring dream as an unconscious desire to get back with your ex, and for that you have my permission to blame Freud. But instead, I’d go another route. I want you to write down everything you associate with your ex, fears, wishes, habits, memories, etc. and I want you to interpret them as extensions of your self. For instance, most of us have had the dream where we show up naked to a party/school/work. We’re not actually worried that this might occur in our non-dreaming life. Instead, this represents a feeling of being unprepared, of being caught off guard by life, and our subconscious trying to signal to us that we should, ahem, wake up and deal with it.
If you’ve never tried a Jungian dream analysis, it can be pretty revealing (and fun!). The watered-down version is to write down every detail you remember about your dream, then go through and circle all the nouns. After you’ve done that, you then write down your thoughts about those nouns. For instance, if you dream about gold, you might write down something like: rich, precious, and leprechaun, thus revealing your apprehensions about marrying a little person for money. Just kidding. Not every noun will be a gateway to enlightenment, but with a little time and effort, it could lead to insights you might never have thought of otherwise. Your ex dream might actually be about a quality she has that you wish you did, it might represent a part of you you’ve been neglecting, or it might simply stem from the fact that you haven’t been in a relationship in a while, and your brain is giving you a reminder.
If you want clarity about your dreams, you have to not view them through the lens of reality. For instance, “Do I still need closure? Am I not hung up on her?” are questions you could ask yourself in waking life, but they don’t necessarily apply in your non-waking life. It’s pretty evident to me that you’ve moved on, and have developed plenty of healthy habits that are preparing you for your next dream girl (no pun intended).
As my homegirl Oprah put it, “As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you — the first time around.”
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.