When Frightening Dreams Come True by
(120 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

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Being married for 51 years to a psychoanalyst, I have great respect for dreams. I have drunk the Kool-Aid and believe they reveal our innermost feelings and fears. That said, I rarely remember mine. While my husband trained himself to recall his in vivid detail, I struggle to remember my dreams, even the ones that disturb my sleep.

My worst dreams have become a reality as we struggle through these endless days of #stayathome.

My husband has two recurring dream whose meaning is obvious, even to me. His boyhood dream of flying, sometimes like Superman, is the classic sexual dream of many young guys. His other dream that he has had many times during our marriage relates to having house guests or going to stay with my parents in the Detroit area. I call it the “too many guests” dream because, in every variation, he can’t use the bathroom or take a shower or find his clothes because other people are occupying all of the spaces. Of course, he can trace it back to his childhood living in an apartment with one bathroom and borders or various relatives staying with his family.

Without the benefit of my husband’s seven years of analysis as part of his training, I’m left to put my own spin on the three main dreams of my life. My childhood dream was the opposite of flying. I was trapped in my bedroom, which was located at the front of the house, just off the living room. My parents’ and brothers’ rooms were in the back of my house. Usually, there was an enemy army in the living room, keeping me trapped in my bedroom unable to reach my parents for help. My husband has interpreted this dream to have several meanings, but I’m not sharing any of them in this story.

The dreams that dominated my sleep from high school through college, parenthood, and work, finally ending with my retirement, were classic examination dreams. I’m sure you have had these as well. I am looking for a classroom to take a test but can’t find it. I have a final exam for a course I never attended. I am taking an exam but can’t think of a single answer. I’m bewildered and panicked. How could I, a good student, forget to study for a test? Why can’t I find the classroom? I’ve had an endless variety of these dreams that feel very real at the time.

More recently, my dreams involve getting lost. This stems from a realistic fear, as I have a very poor sense of direction and was often literally lost in the pre-GPS era. In these dreams, I’m usually with people depending on me to find the way. Sometimes it’s my kids when they were young. Or my grandkids or a friend. I never remember the details well, but I do recall the feeling of panic as I try to discern where I am and how I will get home.

My worst dreams have become a reality as we struggle through these endless days of #stayathome. The nightmare of being trapped in my room is now a reality as I shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic, separated from family and friends. Life these days feels like a huge examination dream with no right answers. And I am truly lost because I can’t see the way home from COVID-19. As I begin my fifth week of social distancing and staying home, I feel like I am living my most frightening dreams. Unfortunately, this time my husband can’t analyze me out of this bad dream.

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Laurie, you’ve captured how we all
    must feel in this very scary time,
    Our worse dreams have become our daily nightmares.
    Stay safe!

  2. Ah, Laurie, so many of us are feeling lost these days…especially because the road ahead is so unclear. If only we had a map. I’m imagining a LOT of masks, hand sanitizer, and testing (fingers crossed, since all else seems to be failing!) in our future for some time to come. Then long lines for vaccinations, similar to those we stood in in our school auditoriums for the polio vaccine, but even longer because we’d have to stand six feet apart. And that’s the good dream.

    I’m surprised by how many of the stories this week reference that classic examination dream. I’ve never had that one — my “school” dreams were always that I showed up at school sans an important piece of clothing, or that no one else was there and I had missed the memo. I wonder how your husband (or my daughter, who interprets dreams for fun and is pretty darned good at it) would analyze those as compared to the others or whether they’re all pretty much the same.

    Re your hubby’s analysis of your being trapped in your bedroom, based on the first thoughts that come to my mind, I don’t blame you for not sharing. For the past few years I’ve had a recurring dream about driving in reverse and the brakes don’t work. Analyze that!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Barb, I think your vision is our reality right now. Just got back from Home Depot where they supposedly had curbside delivery. Except no one answered the phone so my husband had to go in. Everyone in line was wearing a mask, and most of them practiced social distancing while they waited to be admitted to the store. The part about the vaccine would be a great dream come true. I also remember those lines in my school auditorium to get a polio vaccine. Unlike now, Salk never profited from his discovery and shared the formula. Today, each lab develops its own proprietary tests and guards them with a patten. No sharing to help the public. It’s all about profit in 2020. As far as your school dreams go, that just shows what a creative free spirit you were/are! LOL about driving in reverse with no breaks. That’s how life feels these days.

  3. Marian says:

    Wow, Laurie, with all you’ve been through it’s no wonder you are having dreams that are so disturbing. I, too have had exam dreams and dreams when I’ve felt trapped. I’m claustrophobic, so mostly interpretations don’t take a lot of analysis. Remembering dreams is a mixed blessing, I guess. I do remember so many of my dreams and a long time ago, during a time of great difficulty in my life, I kept a dream journal. I found it really helpful in assessing where I was emotionally.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Marian, I think a dream journal is a great idea. For me, the problem is if I write down my dream at 3:00 am when it’s still fresh and filled with details, I can’t go back to sleep. If I do fall back asleep, all I remember is that I had a weird dream.

  4. Suzy says:

    Laurie, as always, you write so well, and you even found the perfect illustrations for each type of dream. How interesting that your husband was able to train himself to remember his dreams in vivid detail. So often I remember mine vividly when I first wake up, but when I try to describe them to my husband even 20 minutes later, I have already forgotten them.

    I’m tantalized by the fact that you won’t share your husband’s analysis of your dream of being trapped in your bedroom. I will have to get together with you for drinks some time and get you to tell me! And you are right, of course, that all 3 of your anxiety dreams can be translated into the anxieties we are all having now with COVID-19. Thanks for a very insightful story!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Thanks, Suzy. Obviously, people like you and me don’t remember vivid dreams that well unless they happen just before we wake and we can tell them to someone or write them down immediately. I don’t know how my husband learned to remember his but back in the day, if you were in analysis, you had to bring material to the session. The current COVID-19 crisis has made me anxious on an unconscious level. I don’t think about it all day, but I also can’t sleep very well. Thought I would read and write so much more, but I find it hard to concentrate. Because of our upcoming move, I organize and sort through things, which makes the days pass quickly.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Laurie, you have had lots of classic dreams and your images perfectly enhance each one (particularly you’re trapped in your apartment, separated from the rest of your family with the military in between). That image and dream are truly frightening.

    I agree that these days, we are all experiencing our own worst nightmares, stuck inside, away from loved one, with no real end in sight. And that adds to the anxiety. Your husband must be SO busy (even talking to patients via FaceTime), as everyone’s anxiety is ramped up.

    Stay safe. Though it has already become a cliché, we are all in this together.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Thanks, Betsy. Thankfully for his own mental health, my husband is semi-retired and just has a handful of patients. That said, everyone is anxious and fearful. I think the hardest part is not knowing how long this will go on and how to be safe. We haven’t left the house much. Just a couple of car rides to drop off or pick up stuff. I really hate grocery shopping online, but my kids keep discouraging me from going in person, and they are probably right. The one place I went to shop, which was very organized and seemed safe, had to close down because a worker became infected. I’m lucky I have one of my daughters living close by and her husband picks up things for us and leaves them on our doorstep.

      You stay safe as well, and we all have to keep our spirits up as best we can.

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Thanks for sharing your dreams, Laurie, even if they are somewhat vague for you. Of course, I identify with the “exam” dream — my the “Dream.” But I can also understand (I think) your “lost” dream, even though I don’t have it myself. And, yes, you are so right as to how applicable it is to our current times.

    So here’s hoping for some “found” and other happy dreams soon!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      From your mouth to God’s ears, as they say. John, it feels like we are living through an endless nightmare. My dream is to be able to hug my grandkids again instead of seeing them through my front window, in the case of those living here, or on FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. Not asking for much.

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