I believe that dreams are simply our way of processing the events of the day. No more. No less.
No matter how twisted and completely unrealistic a dream may be, it is in some shape or form allowing your brain to process and store events, thoughts, or feelings that you have personally experienced, even if you are consciously unaware that these experiences have passed through your brain in a given day.
For example, I have had very vivid dreams of passionate sex with people other than my husband, dreams of my husband confessing to me that he is and has fallen madly in love with someone other than me, dreams that I have driven a car off the end of a road, literally, the road simply stops and my car is falling, falling, falling.
Now, of course none of these things have ever actually occurred, definitely not in the context my dreams have shown them in. Yet, I can assure you each dream has been a visual expression of an emotion or fear that many times I was unaware of until processed through a dream.
Of course, I also have the very typical dreams such as dreaming about work, which is normal when you do one repetitive activity for ten hours a day, six days a week. Honestly, I’d think it were strange if one were to never dream about it.
So, it came as no surprise to me that every time I closed my eyes I would dream about the accident. Though they were horrible dreams. Dreams I wished I could stop having. Dreams that did not perfectly reflect reality. I never once classified them as nightmares. They were not nightmares, they were my brain processing an event so traumatic that it could not manage to consciously process it. It was normal, and although I didn’t like it, I did understand it.
What saddened me the most about the dreams though was the enormous amount of guilt each version of the accident my dream world created.
Worst of all, I knew why. It was an emotion that came about when my eyes were wide open as well. An emotion that I stubbornly denied and strongly defended myself against. The accident was not my fault. Even the responding police officer found the other driver 100% at fault. Though I am female, I can guarantee with unwavering certainty, that no man could have handled our SUV any better than I did that day. Though I don’t in any way claim responsibility for our walking away from such a horrible accident, that was all God, I do know that my instinctive reflexes were on point. Besides, everyone is alive and not permanently disabled, so why the immense guilt?
Because I was the one driving, is all I can fathom. If I had braked rather than sped up, maybe the cars would have never connected. If I had honked rather than fearing I would startle the other driver, thus (ironically) causing an accident, maybe she would have reacted faster and our cars would have never connected.
It’s amazing how fast our brains work. In the split second that my SUV drifted just far enough, where I felt the weight shift just hard enough, when I knew we were about to roll, aside from the largest amount of pure terror I can ever remember feeling, I thought this is it, this is the moment that life will change forever, all as a result of an accident I was driving in, an accident I couldn’t get us out of. This is it, life will never be the same, and I was the one at the wheel.
Then nothing. Nothing but crunching metal and shattering glass. Deafening blackness. Then we finally stopped rolling, and for days I was in shock to still be alive. So deep in shock that I didn’t recognize the extremely obvious signs of concussion that I was experiencing.
I presume that due to the concussion it has taken my brain longer to process the events and emotions of that accident than it normally should, and that is the reason I have dreamed of it so often for so long. Why it took my brain so long to process the guilt I was feeling and to figure out that my guilt was not from the accident alone.
Having a concussion has been miserable for me. I am so far from the person I normally am, and it truly bothers me. It’s been eight days since the accident and this is the first day I have woke with a feeling of ambition. I am a morning person. I awake with a smile on my face ready to take on the day, well 99% of the time I do. I work all day, come home and do dishes, vacuum, mop, do laundry, etcetra, and I don’t mind in the least. I ENJOY being busy and productive and handling my business. Now, five minutes of activity leaves me completely exhausted. It is frustrating, so frustrating it would bring one to tears.
My concept of time is lost. I’ve had to write down absolutely everything important that I think or say or am told, otherwise I am guaranteed to forget it very quickly after. I have a constant headache, though the severity varies throughout the day, it is always there like a shadow haunting me. The same applies to the feelings of nausea and difficulty seeing. I can’t make it through the day without at least two muscle relaxers. Yes I have tried, every day, to avoid taking them. The floor that I was desperately waiting for our water to be fixed so that I could mop still sits, frustratingly, untouched.
I know that my co-workers miss me, but it’s more than that. Every day that I am not at work my job still needs to be done. Every day that I’m not there makes for a harder day on every one of my co-workers. It frustrates me.
I know that my kids understand, they know Mommy was in a bad accident and just isn’t quite herself, but it’s more than that. Every day that I’m not myself they still need their mommy. Every time that I snap at them because I’m uncharacteristically irritated. Every time the sink fills with dishes or they have to dig through the dryer for clean clothes or daddy doesn’t put the magic stuff (conditioner) in our daughters hair. Every day that I am right here on the couch, yet so far away, makes for a harder day for each of them. It frustrates me.
I know why my brain endlessly processes this displaced sense of responsibility. I was the driver and my passengers depended on me to get them from point A to point B safely, just as I am an employee whose boss and co-workers depend on me to complete a job, just as I am a mother whose children depend on me, just as I am a wife whose husband depends on me….
Like a spoke in a wheel, I am needed to make the journey a smoother ride. I am needed. And I can’t be there.
Last night was the first time I’ve slept in a week where I didn’t dream about the accident. Last night, I had a dream that our grass hadn’t been mowed in weeks. It was nearly up to my waist. Our four year old could run through the lawn and other than a thin trail left behind you would have no knowledge she was out there. I was appalled that MY lawn was allowed to get so overgrown.
Today was the first day since the accident I woke up feeling ambitious. The first day I felt the emotion at all. Though I still have a nagging headache, nor can I barely walk straight, it was a glorious feeling to wake up with the good ol’ feeling of ambition I have come to love over the years. It was an old familiar feeling, a glimpse of the real me that is buried under this concussion. A me that is desperately fighting to return.
This is why we dream. To process the events, emotions, and thoughts of our day. And, to heal, heal from the wounds we are often completely unaware that we even have….