Have I dreamed that before?

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.

6 Responses to Have I dreamed that before?

  1. Margaret says:

    I know that I have repeat dreams, and I also identify with the feeling of not being sure what I have already dreamed and what not. I also find myself back in high school, but knowing that I have already finished college. I also have dreams where I meet an attractive man, and don’t seem to remember that I have been married for 26 years!

    I still have lots of dreams that take place in the house we grew up in, and our parents are usually there in the house, sometimes with Pauline and sometimes not (because I spent some time there as an adult with Pauline not present). But sometimes I say to our parents, you know, you aren’t really still alive, you’re just a dream; other times I see them and don’t have any sense of them not being really there and alive, until I wake up.

    The other day I was thinking about when we had gerbils, and one young gerbil that I thought was female turned out to be male. Then I watched a TV show about a pet shelter. A family with a female dog wanted to get another dog, but the shelter said, with this breed two females don’t get along well, you need a male. That night I went to sleep and had a dream about a baby (which happens fairly often – Pauline, did you know that before my son was born, you gave birth to twins in one of my dreams). Anyway, this baby was supposed to be a girl, but I saw that it was really a boy, undoubtedly influenced by the thoughts I had had earlier that day. (I felt uncomfortable having to tell my friend, look, your baby girl is actually a boy.) But other dreams I can’t remember thinking about that topic for a long time. Funny.

    • Pauline says:

      I dream fairly often about being at 54 Fisk Dr. Usually our parents are there. (Sometimes you are also.) And usually I am trying to use the bathroom, often to take a shower but finding it difficult because there are shirts hanging on the shower rod and all kinds of other stuff piled up all over the place.

      I don’t remember any dreams where I saw our parents and knew they shouldn’t be alive, but I have had several (none lately) where one or both of them had died and then come back to life, sometimes more than once. (Obviously in my dreams they hadn’t been cremated.)

      No baby dreams lately. When I have had baby dreams, though, the baby usually starts talking and walking within a few days of being born.

  2. Margaret says:

    Last night my husband woke up and said, “I found it.” I asked him, “You found what?” “I found the ball.” “You found what ball?” “The ball for the shutdown.” “The ball for what shutdown?” “I don’t remember.” And he went back to sleep. It sounds funny, but apparently I have done the same thing, because he has insisted that I woke up and said something that makes no sense later. So now I wonder if this could account for some of those dreams that you think you have already had. You woke up and lay there thinking about the dream you had just had, not fully awake, then fell back to sleep and had a new dream about the same subject. In which case of course you would not have had the opportunity to write about the first dream. By the way, I also have had that experience of not being sure whether I dreamed something or it really happened. As a child this never happened because my dreams were too far from reality, but as an adult they are often close to the truth.

  3. Margaret says:

    So you and Jon don’t keep shirts hanging on your shower rod? Neither do we. I don’t recall ever dreaming about the 54 Fisk shower, just the toilet. When I was little, our parents asked me not to flush the toilet during the night, as it might disturb their sleep, being so close to the bathroom. Now in my dreams, I need to use the toilet, but of course it has some sort of problem (as in virtually all of my bathroom dreams), and I am not sure if I should wake them up and ask them to please fix the toilet. (Apart from my dreams, our toilet has been difficult lately. When I called maintenance one evening during a recent snowstorm, they said, we’ll come out in the morning and fix it. Don’t flush it until we come. But the situation is always worse in my dreams.)

    • Pauline says:

      I hadn’t actually remembered, consciously, that they kept shirts hanging on the shower rod. I only remembered all the ones hanging in the basement. I thought it was just something in my dreams, that was exaggerating the mess in that house to the point that it was impossible to take a shower. But I guess my subconscious remembered.

  4. Margaret says:

    You were probably out taking a walk to get away from it all when I lost my temper and removed all the shirts from the shower rod. I said, it’s not fair, I should be able to take a shower if I want to, not have to push shirts out of the way to take a tub bath. Of course I had a lot of objections to our parents’ ways of doing things (Mother used to say, Margaret, you’re not going to run things here, when I would try to straighten things up a little). But for some reason I directed my anger at the shower rod. You must have repressed the memory (probably not a bad idea).

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