Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lost in the Supermarket

London Calling I've been having some unpleasant dreams lately, most of which I believe are about anxiety. Some have been downright terrifying, but most are just general, free-form weirdness with an underlying feeling of dread.

The other night was particularly bad. Things began innocently enough, with talking to my friend Aubrey (we recently had lunch, so that's where that came from), and nothing seemed amiss. Then I was talking to my friend Greg, also from the lab. Nothing weird about the conversation, which took place in the lab, but he was wearing shorts and a tank top, and that's when things started going wrong. You don't wear shorts and a tank top in the lab. It was a jarring enough inconsistency that in my dream, I sat on the floor with my legs splayed out, hung my head, and said, "This has to be a dream."

It morphed into the setting of a house I didn't know. My Mom was there, and we were sleeping in the same bed. She asked me, "Do you want to say that prayer now?" I said, "No," and she said, "Okay," rolled over and went to sleep. I was making a cat toy of feathers and tossing it up into the air, although I don't recall a cat being there. There was a woman in the house, and she was wearing an evening gown. She stood out on the balcony with the sliding glass door open, and I said, "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to close that door. It's very cold in here." She smiled and did so.

It all sounds innocent enough as I type it, but I can't begin to convey the feeling of dread, dismay, and wrongness that overlaid everything. There were several times that I thought as I did early on: "I know I'm dreaming," but it all felt so vivid and completely real that I was sure it was happening. So you can imagine my terror when my dream culminated with me lying in bed, opening my eyes, and seeing someone or something leaning over me with bared teeth and dead eyes, snarling and ready to chew my face off. As is often the case in dreams, I was paralyzed with fear, and could only moan, "Noooooo oh god nooooooo," which finally, thankfully, woke me up for real. There was a moment of heart-pounding panic, as I tried to figure out where I was, and whether or not I was awake or still dreaming. Whew.

Dream anxiety I had another one tonight when I napped on the loveseat, but at least this one wasn't as terrifying. I was at the grocery store, and I recall being horribly unfocused and unable to complete my task. I was trying to find a 12-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper, and I could only find cases. At one point, I had a case of 7-Up in my hand, and sat it down with disgust, as in, "That's not what I want! Why am I carrying this around?" I can laugh about it now, because it sounds silly, but in my dream, I was walking endlessly back and forth in the aisle, trying to find that goddamn 12-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper. I recall wondering if they were seeing me on the security cameras and wondering what was wrong with me. I felt incapable, stupid, and incompetent. For me, that IS a nightmare! I eventually ran into my friend Jay (also from the lab), and he gave me a big hug, so that was nice. That one had a decent ending rather than the terrifying one earlier in the week.

I know it's all a reflection of the generalized anxiety I'm feeling about things in general, and I'll just ride it out as my psyche dumps all the detritus into my dreams. I can handle the vaguely unpleasant, but that one the other night is lingering. I find dreams fascinating, and I'm wondering if writing such things down will help me wrest a little control over them? Usually my dreams are fairly pleasant, if nonsensical, easily forgotten. If I continue to have these anxiety dreams, I think writing them down might help me get a handle on them.

The supermarket dream tonight had an unexpected and happy benefit, as it reminded me of one of my favorite Clash songs, "Lost in the Supermarket." Although known for their anger and outrage at the inequities of the haves vs. the have-nots, this song is almost wistful in its search for meaning in the banality of life, our society's promise of happiness through consumerism, and our increasing isolation. If you think I'm reading too much into the song, go right ahead. Songs speak to people in different ways, and this song speaks to me.

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for the special offer
A guaranteed personality

I wasn't born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That's how it's been all around me

I'm all tuned in I see all the programmes
I save coupons from packets of tea
I've got my giants hit discotheque album
I empty a bottle I feel a bit free

Kids in the halls and the pipes in the walls
Making noises for company
Long distance callers make long distance calls
And the silence makes me lonely

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for the special offer
A guaranteed personality

It's not here, it disappeared.


  1. (((((beth))))

    i so understand what you mean when you talk about how hard it is to explain a dream, especially a terrifying one, to someone else so they can 'get it'.

    have you looked at a dream interpretation dictionary? the way they describe common themes in dreams is interesting research.


  2. Thanks for sharing your dream or rather your nightmares. I like listening to other people dreams the first one you share, was spooky. I found that the more you share your dreams with others the more things you reveal about them and about you. Lucky for you, you do not have to search for personality. You know who you are and that is your great advantage.

  3. I was in the service listening to 'London Calling' when the song finally 'got' to me. I was in Korea (so was Kelly!) and all of a sudden, that was how I felt. Being overseas and a million billion miles from home and having to worry about North Korea's sabre rattling as well as trying to be a kid doing a grown up job, allowed for that song to sink in for me.

    I haven't had THAT particular feeling in years, but it stayed as its own moment in my mind, a grouping of general concerns that causes me to ask myself specific questions about my world.

    Not into dream interpretation. One of the odd things about my condition is that details of moments frequently get 'dropped' and that helps to ease my emotional state. For a person like you, beautiful and in a wonderful marriage, with a great career under your belt and a life time of super positive accomplishments in her life, I think that much of the stuff that may have led to your dreams comes from outside of your world and comes in and attaches itself to things that you deal with regularly.

    They are so disperate and unattached to each other, the subjects of the dreams and the people who appear in them, that I would say the feelings that gave rise to them come from how you view and interpret the wider world and society. There are things that constantly makes me sake my head... one of the things that I saw on your Facebook or on Huffpost that spoke of how Faux News compares some of the challenges the Obama administration faces to the things that Dubya went through only it is to accentuate the negatives of how Obama is handling it.

    But when Dubya was working through things like Katrina and the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, they went out of their way to praise how he handled those events and policy choices. It is a double speak that borders on charlatanistic thought control.

    You being the passionate person that you are, trying to fit all that in your head has to cause some sort of mental fatigue because it is a constant struggle. Each time I hear Sarah Palin or read something she has said, I can feel my blood pressure rising. So I can only imagine what someone like you must think about her bleatings.

    As a layman, I would prescribe that you step away from world events and try to live more in your present moment. Sometimes I think that people take for granted the good things in their life that they have going on. That is why I mockingly use the phrase 'safe and stable homes' because in those houses are all kinds of instability and most of it is borne out of fears created by never having enough and worries about being overcome by things out of their control.

    Being in the 'now' is very underrated.

    Anywho, hope you don't mind me talking out of my arse for a bit. I guess I am working through some stuff... no, I KNOW I am working through some stuff writing this down. Take care and be well. It could also be those pumpernickel bread mayonaisse sandwiches you eat before bed that are causing your dreams too!!


  4. Just don't add melatonin to the mix. Trust me.

  5. I hope you have sweet dreams tonight honey (((big hugs))) to you

  6. I read somewhere that every person in your dream is a side of your own self, so maybe that creature in your nightmare is the part of you that doesn't like being anxious and lacking control? Perhaps you felt you needed to give yourself a scare to snap yourself out of it?
    Or, maybe it was just a nightmare and meant nothing at all, lol.

    Certain foods are said to bring on nightmares. Cheese and/or is often blamed but personally, I think it's different for everybody and you need to figure out which foods are good for you and which aren't.
    I always have the most vivid dreams if I sleep after eating a banana! Don't have too many nightmares though.
    Sweet dreams.
    B. x

  7. That's cheese and/or choclolate (see above).

  8. Hi, I hardly ever comment, but want to on this, I just lost my step-son that I raised since he was 6 , he was 34 when he passed..... I have been having some weird ,scary, dumb, foolish, crazy dreams .... since then. I thought maybe you are just having so anxiety like I have had since your father passed. Just a thought.... hope you sleep soundly and deep soon........ hugs, Sherry

  9. Found this on John Simpson's blog, Running After My Hat. Just had to share it.

    per Wikipedia:
    "A lucid dream is a dream in which the sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming. When the dreamer is lucid, he or she can actively participate in and often manipulate the imaginary experiences in the dream environment. Lucid dreams can seem extremely real and vivid depending on a person’s level of self-awareness during the lucid dream…

    A lucid dream can begin in one of two ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes that he or she is dreaming, while a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness.

    Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established."

    I think Sherry has a good point; grief gives the brain a lot to adjust to and our brains do double back flips to accommodate us. Brains are so cool that way.

  10. I'll be there's some meaning in these dreams ... that you're trying to tell yourself something. Odd that a strange woman in an evening gown -- someone you've never seen before? -- would appear like that on the balcony.

  11. BTW I prefer you old banner. with much love lelo.


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