5 Recurring Themes I’ve Noticed after Two Decades of Recording My Dreams

by a contributor

from Susan L. Lin, author of Brief Spaces of Light:

  1. Words that are not words in real life. My subconscious loves making up words and proper names and convincing me they are perfectly acceptable for use. For example: “TFTBNT” (an alcoholic drink), “MULC” (a known acronym for My Unlucky Child—what that means, I don’t know), and “shinidying” (a metal device being sold for only 19 cents, according to a newspaper ad).

  2. Large, labyrinthine buildings.   I spend a great deal of time wandering around unfamiliar buildings in my dreams. These buildings are never the same, but they are always huge and populated by elaborate staircases, mysterious doors, and secret passageways. Excessively large bathrooms and elevator cars also make frequent appearances.

  3. The “evil hallway.”  Thankfully I no longer have these dreams, but when I was young, they were a staple. The dreams always involved a simple door at the end of a dark, ominous hallway. People in my life seemed to take turns living in the apartment behind that door. In the dreams, I referred to it as the “evil hallway.”

  4. Light switches that don’t work.  Light switches are never scarce, but they hardly ever work either. In one dream, I found a total of six different switches arranged in an odd circular pattern on the wall. Every single one was useless. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I watch too many horror films. (But wait, there’s no such thing as too many horror films!)

  5. False memories, and that nagging, elusive feeling of déjà vu.  In a great number of my dreams, I will “recall” events from my childhood that absolutely never happened. The people involved actually existed, and the locations are accurate. But the memories are completely fabricated. And everything that happens in these dreams is always oddly familiar to me somehow, as if something similar has happened before, even though it never has. I find these dreams far more disturbing than even the series of murderous dreams I experienced during my nights of binge-watching Dexter.