Familiarity in Dreams

Bottle of Dreams by David Urbanke
Bottle of Dreams by David Urbanke

Dreams play an important part in my life. I don’t mean I follow what my dreams show me or I let them rule my life, but I find they are an important part of inspiring me and exposing the hidden places in my psyche.

I have many different types of dreams, as I think we all do, and I could go on and on about them, but in this post, I think I’d like to focus on familiarity in dreams.

When I say “familiarity”, I’m not necessarily writing about desire or sex or passion. I’m writing about that feeling like you know someone and they are very much a part of you and you a part of them. It’s when you can read a person, and he can read you, without words exchanged. It’s a feeling of closeness.

The familiarity often disturbs me. Sometimes I am with someone I know or used to know, and my armor is removed, and there is that closeness, that honesty between me and the other person, where we show our true selves. It could be The Man I Loved, or my Oma or Grandpa, or a close friend; there’s no set pattern on who the person is. But I find it both uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time, which is a very odd mixture.

It’s been hard for me lately — and probably for a long time — to take my armor off because it protects the inner me, the very vulnerable part of me I’ve had to shield from the rest of the world. That armor is rusted, worn, weathered, and it’s probably harmed me more than protected me over the years. I think my depersonalization is a testament to that fact.

So that familiarity places me in an uncomfortable, exposed place. But in that place, there is freedom too. No more pretending, no more armor to mask who I really am. Just me, unarmed and unshielded, in my raw state.

In other dreams, I don’t know the other person in real life, but I somehow know them in the dream, which is a strange juxtaposition. My rational mind seems to traipse off to — well, wherever — and my imagination goes wild. Strange location, people I don’t know, weird situation, and here I am, my armor gone, being exposed to someone I feel I know extremely well but don’t know at all.

These dreams have been more prevalent as I was recovering from depersonalization, mostly when I was reconnecting with my emotions and after I had mostly reconnected.

When I spoke to my counselor about this — and I kinda figured this out a little bit on my own after taking psychology in university — the “other person” I feel familiar with in the dream could be a part of me I’m reconnecting to. What that person represents within me is sometimes confusing, but it is an aspect of me that maybe somehow I’ve lost contact with or contact has been sparse with for whatever reason. And when it’s someone I don’t know in the dream, I feel it represents a part of me I’m either unfamiliar with, or I’ve neglected for so long that it appears as a stranger to me.

Some days, after I’ve woken up (obviously), the dream haunts me for the entire day. It’s like I’m hungry for more or longing for the ability of me to drop the armor and have those sorts of relationships in my real life.

My default setting has been, and sometimes continues to be, I’m afraid of getting hurt. And on goes the armor again.

It’s been hard to try to live more authentically in my life, shedding that armor and walking through the battlefield, finding safe havens along the way.

Life is short, and I can’t change the past, but I can learn from how things were, reconnect or even connect to those familiar parts of me I dream about, and move forward as a more whole, more authentic person.

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