I’ve mentioned some of my recurring dreams before (not the exact same dream but elements that appear over and over) – my teeth falling out, doing laundry (and usually having problems with it). Those I’ve had so many times that I have no problem identifying them as recurring elements.
Others, though, I am never quite sure about. When I remember having had the dream, I’m sure I have had similar dreams before. But is that because I have had such dreams, or is it part of my dream to remember having dreamed that? After all, if I can dream that I have just awakened from a dream (only to later wake up and realize I had only dreamed I woke up before), isn’t it also possible that I dream the memory of having had a dream?
Some dreams I know I have had on more than one occasion because the details differ. I often dream that I am back in school, but which school it is changes. Sometimes I’m back in high school, with the knowledge that I am an adult with at least one college degree, but the college degree isn’t valid unless I go back and finish high school because I had skipped part of it previously. (Note: in real life I skipped sixth grade, which I assume is what that dream draws from.)
Other times I’m an adult but I didn’t finish my college degree and I’m trying to find a way to go back and get those last few classes. I can remember fleeting images of the campus (which never look anything like the ones I actually attended) from these dreams, and these images differ a good deal, so I know these are from multiple dreams.
Sometimes, though, I remember something from a dream that I’m sure I have dreamed before, but I can’t actually remember any particular details except the most recent one. This evening, while cooking supper, I was thinking how tomorrow morning I will go back to work in the office, and as I visualized the office that made me realize that a particular “memory” was actually just a dream.
Does that happen to you? You don’t actually remember the dream until something in real life contradicts it, and then you realize that the one image that feels like a memory was just a dream. I remember one day in seventh grade when I woke up feeling sad and went through the whole morning feeling sad, but didn’t actually think about why – I just knew there was a reason to feel sad. Then at lunchtime I caught sight of Mr. Robison, one of my favorite teachers. I realized with shock that I had thought he was dead because I had dreamed he died, and that was why I had been feeling so sad.
Usually it’s something much more mundane. A couple of months ago, I walked into the break room at work and was surprised to see both microwave ovens on the wall. At that moment I realized that it had just been a dream that not only the microwave ovens but the shelves they sat on had been taken down – and that the walls were really blue, not white as they had been in my dream.
Last night’s dream had been about going back to work after having been gone for a while. But instead of my current job, I worked at the office where I worked for twelve years in Pennsylvania (that’s where I worked the longest, so my work-related dreams tend to occur there). And there was this stack of yellow papers that had something to do with shipments to customers, and I was supposed to log them every day, and I wondered who had been doing them while I was gone (and I have no idea why I had been gone – it certainly wasn’t for Christmas vacation).
Along with that memory came the conviction that it was one of those recurring elements, that I had on more than one occasion come back to work only to discover that there was a stack of papers that someone would have had to do for me while I was gone. But I don’t remember them being anything but yellow and being for shipments to customers. I vaguely remember someone else having had to take over the job since I had gotten so far behind on it so many times (something that has never happened with any job I have had).
So have I dreamed it before, or did I just dream it last night and in my dream remember it having happened before? Or did dream waking up from that dream and remember having had a similar dream before? I have no idea. But now that I’ve written it here, if I have the dream again I’ll know it’s a repeat.