For years, I have piloted the same two recurring dream symbols. Months before my son, Jrue, was born in 2013, my subconscious began a biweekly barrage of dreams connected to houses and school buses.
Yep. Houses. And yellow school buses.
With my dramatic imagination and crisp memory, I would wake up from my various mind movies convinced that what I had experienced was real. These symbols arrived in such a constant frequency that it became odd when I didn’t see a house or a school bus in a dream. To this day, one of the two tokens pops in weekly, like a dear friend, to remind me that, yes, I am still going just a little crazier each passing day.
Under dream states, I have been in other people’s houses. I have toured large mansions, some so massive that I have gotten lost. I have visited childhood homes and summoned details I probably shouldn’t even remember. I have walked through colossal neighborhoods and seen houses disappear into air. One house had a restaurant drive-thru attached to the back. Another house had hardwood floors that I clacked around on. I was robbed in one and recorded a studio music demo in the next. I was supposed to move sometimes, but often didn’t before awakening. I recall sounds and smells and color schemes and furniture levels of emptiness or fullness.
The dreams I have of school buses are just as varied and unpredictable. I have seen the worst of accidents involving buses. I have saved children from buses as speeding trains approached. I have driven school buses and made love in driver’s seats. I have seen buses explode and buses fly. It’s always a full-sized yellow one. The bus is almost always fleeing or parked…or gone because I had just missed it taking too long at my locker after school or getting out of the house in the morning.
At no point, of course, has any of the hundreds of dreams with these two identifiers felt “weird” to me. In fact, I embrace each one as having some type of unknown, but definitive meaning. I store what I remember into one of my millions of brain file cabinets.
I cannot say for certain why these particular themes are digested in my sleep. The pattern has continued for so long now that it’s normal for me. But I wanted to do my research for insight.
In the Huffington Post article “6 Things That Influence Your Dreams,” writer Jessica Gross illustrated how outside stimuli and individual mindset can influence what we dream about. Oftentimes, nearby sounds, surrounding smells, sleeping positions, mental states, real-life quitting, and drugs/vitamins all have multidimensional tendencies to affect the quality and content of dreams and nightmares. (Gross, 2013) I have had background music in dreams swayed by the nighttime music the hubs sleeps to. I have been “suffocated” when dreaming after having rolled onto my stomach. My first big weight-loss effort in 2010 yielded 30 pounds and changeless dreams of waking up with a giant belly, like that of Professor Sherman Klump from “The Nutty Professor” movie series. I recall how strange my dreams got with birth control and how even stranger with blood pressure medicine after having the kids.
My case, however, goes a bit deeper. Check this out: There may actually be a persistent conflict that I have not yet rested in real life, which is why it (or they) continues to show up in my subconsciousness.
Dr. Michelle Carr, psychologist and dream researcher, talked about what could cause recurring dream symbols. “Theorists suggest that these themes may be considered ‘scripts’ (Spoormaker, 2008) or perhaps ‘complexes’ (Freud, 1950); as soon as your dream touches any aspect of the theme, the full script unfolds in completion.” (Carr, 2014) “Dream theorists generally agree that recurring dreams are connected to unresolved problems in the life of the dreamer. . .Dreams often portray a Central Image, a powerful dream image that contextualizes a certain emotion or conflict for the dreamer.” (Carr, 2014)
How about that?
Curiously, my house-themed and bus-themed dreams began at just the point in time when I was pregnant and obsessing over motherhood and all it entailed. “Stability” for our unborn son became a household buzzword, as well as obtaining the best we could for him in the areas of development, comfort, and early childhood education. House dreams are commonly connected to the dreamer’s sense of “self,” and specific meanings evolve from what is seen in the dream. Conversely, school bus dreams can be interpreted as connecting to life movement and personal growth, as a school is the place where we find the earliest growth exploration.
The start of parenthood is just as good a time as any to delve into ourselves. And it seems like I can’t stop the diving.
Dr. Carr warns that “even if recurrent dreams are vanquished for a certain time, they will sometimes return again during a new period of stress. . .Old scripts [are] sometimes revived in new, different times of stress.” (Carr, 2014)
Namely, the two symbols keep showing up in my dreams because I’m hitting the same or similar stress levels repeatedly, and my brain is reacting negatively. Dr. Angel Morgan expounds on this. “Dreams can include important narratives for the dreamer about unresolved issues in the past, present and future. Often, a very important message for the dreamer that has been ignored will repeat until it’s understood, or worked through by the dreamer. (Morgan, 2014)
Seems to me like parenthood is handing me some sticky anxiety about…my house, my person…and my bus, my intimate evolution. Yes, I totally feel the stress. Hourly.
That, or I should be making some pretty large purchases soon.
What the hell would I do with a school bus, though?
Carr, Michelle. “What’s Behind Your Recurring Dreams.” Psychology Today, Nov. 14, 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dream-factory/201411/whats-behind-your-recurring-dreams. Accessed Jun. 30, 2017.
Gross, Jessica. “6 Things That Influence Your Dreams.” The Huffington Post, Sep. 30, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/28/dream-facts_n_4003477.html. Accessed Jun. 30, 2017.
Morgan, Angel. “Recurring Dreams: Your Dreams are Trying to Tell You Something!” The Huffington Post, Mar. 12, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dreamscloud/sleep-and-dreaming_b_4569753.html. Accessed Jun. 30, 2017.