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What to do when it just won’t fit.

By February 3, 2010Myth or Reality, Writing

I haven’t been sleeping well. Even when I appear to sleep well (ie. I go to sleep at 10 and wake up at 6), I open my eyes and feel like I’ve been fighting a war all night. I’d say 99% of the time, I wake up drenched in a cold sweat. Last night at some point I had that horrible feeling like you’re plummeting to the ground that jerks you awake and freaks the shit out of you.

And then, there are the dreams. My dreams are long, intricate, heavily detailed and almost always remembered in the morning with startling focus. Also, many of these night visions are recurring. Not that I’m having the same exact dream over and over, but I’ve had three themes that have attached themselves to my subconscious for the last 3 decades.

1. Flying. I’m not a bird or anything, these dreams are usually more about airplane travel. Usually, I’m preparing for a trip, running around an airport, on an airplane that either looks like an actual plane or sometimes a big bus. These dreams are almost always stressful, dare I say frightening, chaotic and downright eerie.

2. Swimming. I’ve always been a swimmer, I’ve always loved it. These dreams involve me in water of all kinds – rough and calm, pools, rivers and oceans. In general, the stories are soothing, interesting, expansive. They are so real, these water dreams. I can feel the water, I can feel my body in the water.

[Yes, I know. Flying and water dreams are incredibly cliche. And I’m flogging my subconscious for being so mundane. But, don’t close this window yet, my 3rd theme is just plain odd.]

3. Contacts. I started wearing glasses in the 4th grade and contacts in the 6th. Without either of these aids in real life, I am fully inoperable. And my recurring dream about my contacts is that I’m trying to put one of the lenses in my eye and it’s too big. Instead of being the size of a dime, it’s the size of a quarter or a half-dollar or the lid of a Campbell’s soup can. And I’m trying so hard to get it in my eye, but I can’t.

Let’s psycho-analyze, shall we:

  • The flying/travel dreams are about fear of change and taking risks and moving forward. Even if I rush headily into change and transformation in my waking hours, I deal with the stress of it all when I sleep.
  • The swimming dreams are about being held, being safe. There’s just no way around that analysis, I can feel it in my bones.
  • The contacts dreams? I think it’s about vision. I think it addresses this deeply held belief that we need something to help us see, something to enable our vision, that we need ‘other’ to find fruition, success, sight. And in my dream, this crutch is useless. I can’t make it fit. I can’t make it help me. In the, I’m guessing, 50 dreams I’ve had about my contacts thus far, the story ends with me trying to get this big, sloppy, plastic saucer in my eye. I never get beyond that point.

I wrote this post because I’m tired and I want to sleep peacefully. And because, good or bad, every night or every other month, these dreams haunt me a bit. And because when I write, I get to look at the struggle from a different side – not all wild in my head, but down here – civilized – on the ‘paper’. I find order and sense and, most often, a path out of the maze. I think writing helps with things like this. It takes the floaty, overwhelming stress and pins it to the paper. Like a butterfly under glass.

So, maybe it’ll be tonight. Maybe tonight I’ll sleep really well. And when the contacts don’t fit, I’ll defiantly toss them aside, look up and realize that I can see regardless, that I can actually see better. And then, maybe, I’ll walk into an orderly airport, buy a cheap ticket and fly somewhere warm. I’ll go straight to the beach…and swim in the sweet embrace of the blue ocean until morning.

Image credit: Jason W. Stanley

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • whollyjeanne says:

    maybe it’s about looking in instead of looking out? that or it’s telling you that it’s time to get lasik.
    .-= whollyjeanne´s last blog ..costume jewelry =-.

  • Van says:

    Maybe writers are susceptible to twisted, chaotic dreams. My writer friends & I agree that the dreams are more “chaotic” when we’re stressed.

    My stressful reoccurring dreams involve 1) being pregnant and 2) being forced back into high school (KKK-leader-named, F-rated school (

    Dreams feel like visual projections of our anxieties. When I was lost and confused in life, the dreams shrouded my whole day in a fog. I felt horrible, I couldn’t sleep.

    As I became more self-assured, horrible dreams that like your contact lenses dream became more and more infrequent.
    .-= Van´s last blog ..Vintage Book Haul =-.

  • Julie Roads says:

    The funny thing is that I’ve had these dreams – with the three themes and the crazy, intricate story lines – forEVER. Whether I’m happy or sad, stressed or not. Doesn’t seem to matter…

  • Lorraine says:

    Hi Julie:

    Some time ago I learned another way of looking at dreams. It involves projecting yourself onto all aspects of the dream’s elements.

    So you are not just “you,” you are all the memorable people, objects and actions in your dream as well.

    So you can ask, “How am I the plane, the bus, the vehicle moving myself someplace?”

    You can ask how you are the amniotic water supporting and buoying yourself.

    How are you the over-sized lens pushing yourself onto a blurry-visioned eye?

    Just another analytic angle–but one I find useful with powerful dreams.

  • Carrie says:

    As I was approaching the age of 30 I had a LOT of house dreams. Plus a few dreams about long, gray hair or bad teeth. Once I dreamt of looking into the mirror and seeing a beautiful stranger (skin color was different, too.)

    Maybe the anxiety of aging was triggering these dreams.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Taking a Quick Detour on Memory Lane =-.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Lorraine – that is a very intriguing perspective! Thank you for the insight…I’m going to explore.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Carrie – thanks for sharing. For some reason, for me anyway, it took some guts to share my dreams. To hear them out loud here. Apparently, I’m judgmental of my subconscious. Who knew? (Me, I did. I’m raising my hand).

  • Etan says:

    Julie, Hope you don’t mind two more cents…

    Perhaps the contact dream is not about vision but what you envision being just too big and you can’t make it fit resulting in anxiety.

    Another way to picture it is that a big “dream”, AKA life goal, can realistically be achieved incrementally. If you think of yourself as a magnet and your goal as another, if the goal/dream magnet is just out of reach, the first magnet (you) will be pulled to the goal magnet, given that the attention on the goal remains focused. By repeatedly setting new goals just out of reach, the dreamer will make further steps toward the ultimate goal. However if the dream/goal magnet is set too far out of reach at the start, the dreamer magnet will not be pulled closer to the goal magnet.

    In the case of the dreamer only frustration will result over the dream that is seemingly out of reach.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Wow, Etan. That is some serious food for thought! Dang, I should tell you all my dreams more often!

  • Belle says:

    I have the contacts dream, too. Only when I dream about contacts, it’s that they are made of a different, uncomfortable material. I’ve never thought about the meaning behind this, though.

    Usually my dreams are very dramatic and vivid, with a clear storyline. I used to never even be in my dreams, so it felt like I seeing a movie in my dreams!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Belle – I’ve never met anyone else who has dreams about their contacts! Then again, I don’t go around asking if they are…

  • Hannah says:

    Wow, this dream post has certainly stirred up a few conversations! In reading about your 3 dream types I have to add the following:

    Funnily enough, I often have dreams about flying, but actually flying like a bird. I never used to be able to take off, then one day I could and it was like such an amazing breakthrough. Now I sometimes fly to get away from people chasing me but can’t always stay airborne for very long.

    Last night I had dreams about swimming and being in water.

    And I used to wear glasses and contact lenses (until I had laser eye surgery) but before I did I remember all my dreams were visually impaired – I could only see the lower half of my field of vision. When I started to wear glasses the darkness suddenly lifted and I could see properly in my dreams again!

  • Derek says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I have found that as I have gotten older I seem to not remember my dreams as much (not sure if age can affect your ability to remember your dreams). I have noticed though that the more stressed I feel the more dreams I have and can remember (and they are usually not pleasant dreams).

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