Dear Professor,

Last night I had the worst nightmare of my life. It started off with my friend K having a party. Her mom was running it except she didn’t look like her mom. In real life that is not what her mom looks like and I’ve only met her once. K’s party was going to be a devil-worshiping cult party. (I have been reading paranormal activity books involving that stuff lately.) So, of course, I did not want to go, so I didn’t. Then, her mom was asking my parents why I didn’t go. Next, I found myself at the party kneeling on kneelers in front of a small crucifix on the wall saying “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” over and over. (I sometimes say that prayer a lot.) So, later, she punished me for not going to the party. Then, I found myself with my sister and my dad in a garden with a big hill. It was also a very cloudy day. I went to this one section of flowers on the hill and a bunch of flies started chasing me around. My sister told me that they were undead flies. I looked at them closer and saw that they were wrinkly with big eyes. My sister told me that I need to apologize to K’s mom in order for the flies to stop chasing me, otherwise undead snakes and spiders will start flying around and chasing me. Then, I apologized to K’s mom (not meaning the apology genuinely) and she forgave me. Next, I was nice to some old lady inside a library inside a big house. She was my grandmother in the dream even though I wouldn’t know who the heck she was in real life. Then, I realized that I had to be nice to my grandma in order for the flies to go away. Then, I had a dream within a dream. I had a cousin in my house. Again, I wouldn’t know who the heck she was in real life. My mind made her up in the dream. Also, the house was made up by my imagination and it was the same house and library as with the grandmother. The cousin and I apparently didn’t like each other. We would be chasing after each other in the library carrying small tables upside down, as if we were going to hit each other. The tables had a smooth glass bottom surface like the top, except it had golf balls stuck to the bottom in neat little rows. Also, the library was neat with a few old-fashioned desks, tall shelves containing thick books, and a dark blue carpet decorated with gold stars. Then, I realized that my quest for being nice wasn’t finished. I couldn’t just be nice to Grandma, I had to be nice with everyone else too. I then found myself inside a gym. I think it was the one in the school where my mom works. I was wearing the goggles I use in chemistry class. The cousin was a sniper inside the gym, trying to shoot me. I opened the door to run outside, and there were teeny tiny minuscule guns attached to the door handle that shot my face every time I tried to open the door. It didn’t hurt because I was wearing the goggles. Also, it was scary outside because dozens of kids my age and my sister’s age were holding guns aimed towards me. I remember them all wearing a yellow article of clothing. Behind them was the backyard of my old house; a field, then forest. So, basically, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Everyone was against me. After a few tries, a managed to get outside, past the other shooters and into a girl’s bathroom. There were a bunch of girls in there getting ready for some sort of show. They had on costumes with sequins and feathers. I ran to the back, with had a few bunk beds. There were may people in there, too. I remember standing in front of a portion of wallpaper on the frame of one of the bunk beds. The wallpaper looked like wrapping paper and was decorated with differed floral designs. Then, M, a senior from my mock trial team, stomped into the room, angry. I tried to stay silent in case she took me back to my cousin, which is unusual because she is very nice to me in real life. She was frustrated with the wallpaper. She and I began to peel layers. Each layer had a different floral design. When we got to the last layer, it was all the designs together in various sections of the paper. Then, she aggressively ushered everyone else out of the room, and then turned to me. She was angry. I was sitting at the top of the bunk bed, terrified. She went up to me, grabbed my ear, and dragged me to my cousin. That is when I woke up. The point of the dream was that everyone was against me and I had no ally. Also, Professor, I am very nice in real life, so I don’t know why I had these terrible quests to be nice. However, there was a time in middle school where I wasn’t nice because I was angry with everyone and still hold a bit of anger, if that bit helps.
Can you help me understand this dream?

Thank you Professor,
Girly-Girl

 

My Dear Girly-Girl,

There are two basic types of nightmares; those that are the product of what we might call “an overactive imagination” and those that carry a deeper message, often indicating that we are supressing something emotionally or psychologically difficult.  Your nightmare, which is incredibly complex and very rich in detail, seems to be a bit of both.  First, let’s touch on the presence of the occult in your dream. The Devil (and his human worshippers) represent guilt, curiousity and temptation.  The Lord’s Prayer, which you invoke so powerfully, represents a call for salvation.  To juxtapose the two in the context of a social situation (such as a party) may indicate that you are feeling a great deal of anxiety, conflict or guilt about something that is happening in your social circle.  This possibility is reinforced by the presence of the undead, whose appearance in dreams often symbolizes a sense of “unfinished business.”  Now, let us examine your dream-within-a-dream, wherein you find yourself in a library with your grandmother, who you have not been nice to, and where you are subsequently chased by your “cousin,” who means you harm.  Grandparents symbolize wisdom and truth, and the appearance of a grandparent in a dream  is an indication that you need to be absolutely honest- with others and with yourself.  Libraries in dreams symbolize a quest for knowledge.  To dream that you are being chased in a library by an archetype who is (and is not) a member of your own family means that you feel you are in a situation you cannot escape but are actively seeking the answer that will allow you to escape it.  This is very likely your mind’s way of demanding that you face something difficult in your waking life.  The fact that your dream-setting morphed from library to school gymnasium reinforces this; a school gym is the most anxiety-provoking of settings, and a dream that takes place in a school is often an indication that you are struggling with a sense of your own inadequacy.  This is reinforced by the fact that you are hunted by various types of gun-wielding monsters (the cousin-sniper, the mini-gun doorknobs, and the kids wearing yellow, a color which in a negative context like a nightmare symbolizes cowardice or deceit).  The layered wallpaper may be the most interesting symbol of all, indicating that your subconscious mind is working very, very hard to find the truth hidden beneath so many layers of subterfuge.  So, what does it all mean, this terrible quest to be nice?  You yourself have pinopinted a possible source for your anxiety; you feel that everyone is against you and you have no ally.  Possibly first admonishment we hear as children is “be nice”- the  Professor’s best guess is that you are experiencing an anxiety that is deeply rooted in a close friendship, that you are feeling inadequate about your ability to deal with the source of this anxiety, and that your brain is strongly and actively seeking a resolution to that difficulty.  Contemplating the possible source of this anxiety is the key understanding the deeper meaning of your dream.  The Professor can tell you about meanings, but only you, the dreamer, can truly know what your dream is about.  Actively contemplate your social ciricle and your friendships, and the Professor believes that there you will find the solution your restless mind so actively seeks.

 

I remain your faithful servant and dream interpreter extraordinaire,