Have you ever dreamed that you slept with your father? Or rode a mechanical bull while a coworker watched? We have and were disturbed for months. Fortunately, dreams don’t always mean what you think they do, and having sex with your father is nothing to worry about, so long as it only happens in your subconscious. Here, we ask psychologist Veronica Tonay, Ph.D. to decode your crazy dreams each and every week, so that you can sleep at night, and dream some more.
THE DREAM IN QUESTION: I was an actress in a small ensemble group. I found a note saying that someone was going to kill me in the performance. I think I knew who sent the note and it was another guy in the cast. My boyfriend was also in the cast. So, at our meeting before the show, I told everyone that I found this note (because I thought that if I put it out there, the guy would know that everyone knew someone was going to try to kill me). I made eye contact with him when I was reading the note, and he gave me a creepy look. After that, the director told me he thought it would be best if I just went ahead with the show and everyone would be on the lookout for the killer. So my boyfriend and I started to go back to the hotel we were staying at, and on the way back I told him I thought we both needed to get out of there. We were going to run back to the hotel and get all of our stuff and leave town. We just started running, through parking structures, up and down the stairs, across the rooftops (it was really scary) and then I woke up and realized it was a dream. — Don’t Want To Die, Portland, OR ANSWER: Acting in dreams is always interesting. Of course, actresses have these dreams, and they are often just about work. But acting is also symbolic of, well, acting. It may be your dream is reflecting your feeling of having to put on a show, not being yourself, or hiding parts of yourself when in the company of a small group (friends? coworkers?). Being killed in dreams often speaks to the same issue: your real self feels as though it’s being “murdered,” by your having abandoned yourself in favor of acting as if you are someone else. Because a man is implicated here, it may be that your own masculine side (the side of you that takes action, plans, sets goals, moves forward) is overpowering your feminine side (the side that waits, is receptive, evaluates people and situations).
Veronica Tonay, Ph.D., earned her doctoral degree in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and has conducted and supervised research on the meaning of dreams for 25 years. She is the author of The Creative Dreamer: Using Your Dreams to Unlock Your Creativity and Every Dream Interpreted.