Unraveling the Language of Dreams

Gwen Plano portrait

Dr. Gwen Plano

I am pleased to have as a guest blogger my friend and colleague Dr. Gwen Plano. A retired educator with a strong background in Counseling and Theology, Gwen recently published a riveting account of her own spiritual journey in Letting Go into Perfect Love.

I grew up on a small farm in southern California, surrounded by cotton fields and grazing cattle. We were isolated from much of the world; but, the arid landscape was fertile ground for dreams. Once tucked into bed and sound asleep, I traveled–to far off lands. I knew I would someday leave the farm; because, I saw that it would be so–through my dreams.

When I got married, though, my nighttime reveries of soaring high into the clouds and traveling to one continent after another, changed. In fact, my dreams terrified me so much that I did not want to sleep.  I would awaken with heart pounding, terror gripping—to images of a baby dying in my stalled car. I would frantically try to revive the child and then rouse fearfully from my bed. Visions of a shriveled, lifeless toddler haunted me night after night. And in each episode, I was desperately trying to save the child. I did not know what these dreams meant at the time; but, I worried about my children. Were the dreams about one of them?

Two years ago I began writing my memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. In preparation, I re-read my old journals and walked through the years. I had forgotten about my night terrors until seeing them chronicled in my notes. What had perplexed me in years past was now very clear.

For more than two decades I was in an abusive marriage. I lived afraid of mistakes, of saying the wrong thing, of being me. Joy was transient or not at all. I effectively hid from life, behind a closeted door of shame.

My dreams during this unwholesome marriage were about me, and more specifically, my lifeless inner child.

Through repetitive dreams, my subconscious was trying to get my attention. But, I could not hear its speech; because, my intuitive creative child lay lifeless in my nocturnal arms. With time and much counseling, though, this precious part of me revived and through her playful interjections, she helped me piece together a life that is once again mine.

My Reflection on Gwen’s Dream

With horrific dreams my experience has been that we tend to want to find the meaning outside of ourselves, or take them to be literally true as you did when the dream made you worry about your children. That is why as a starter to working on most dreams, I often like to use the classic dreamwork method taught by Fritz Perls that everything in the dream is part of yourself. It is the quickest and one of the most effective ways of getting to the primary message. I also believe, along with Edgar Cayce, that dreams can have many levels of meanings so the dream could have been making a comment on possible concerns you had for your children at that time, too.  If it was my dream and I had kids, I think that would be the case for me.