I had a nightmare. All of my teeth were falling out. I kept trying to catch them before they fell to the ground and I lost them completely. I tried to shove them back up into my gums, but then I couldn’t open my mouth.
When I woke, I checked my teeth, and of course everything was fine. They were all in place. Why was I so shaken by this dream? Was it because it was so real?
A friend called me that day, long distance. I talked to her about it, and asked, “What do you think it meant?”
Instead of telling me what she thought it meant, she asked me a question, “When you see someone with crooked or missing teeth, what do you think of?”
My reply was, “I think of their personality. Their teeth are a part of them, it makes them speak the way they do, and makes their smile unique.”
My friend then said to me, “So, if it were my dream about losing teeth, and I thought that teeth represented personality—a part of me, what makes me smile, and uniqueness—I would ask myself: What is happening in my life that is making me feel like I am losing these things?”
Her quick interpretation stunned me. I felt a wash of light burn through me from my feet all the way up to the phone I held against my ear.
At that time, I was in a relationship I wasn’t really sure of. We had been together at that point for almost a year. I had realized that I was changing to suit this lover’s needs, instead of it being the two of us growing together.
I had definitely changed my personality, and I felt like I had given up a part of myself just to keep hanging on. There were surely less smiles being shared in my life. I could see that I was moving from what made me unique into what this partner wanted me to be.
After that phone call such a long time ago, I have always interpreted my own dream symbols. I leave the mass Dream Interpretation books on the shelf. What makes sense and is the truth to me might mean something completely different to someone else.
“Sleep is the best meditation.” ~ Dalai Lama
What do you think of when you see a spider?
When I think of spiders, I think about communication in all directions and being plugged in to everything going on. I also think of women and all that they juggle. (Because spiders make big webs and know what is happening on any given strand.)
What about when you think of flying? Does it scare you? Is it for other people?
When I think of flying, I think about freedom—having the ability to do anything I want to do, anywhere in my world. (Because flying like a bird means no restrictions.)
What about when you think of lovemaking?
When I think of lovemaking, I think of the joyful willingness and happiness to combine my energy with someone else’s, usually with the purpose to strengthen and explore.
When I dream of those things, my interpretations will be different from yours.
The next time you have a dream that impacts you, though it seems to make no sense in waking life, write it down.
Add no details, and don’t edit yourself.
Where were you?
What was happening?
Who else was there?
How did you feel?
Was there an important symbol in the dream.
(Did you see a cat? Was it raining? Were you in a car?)
After you do that, look at your writing and see what sort of words or turns of phrases you used that can give you some clues.
Then look to see if any of those words or phrases correspond with what is happening in your real life.
After a while, you’ll have created your own dream dictionary, personalized with advice just for you—from your own subconscious. This technique also helps turn bad dreams and haunting images into curiosities to explore.
In due course, the relationship that made me feel like I was losing teeth ended.
I do appreciate having had the relationship, and the dream that helped me learn that I couldn’t give up important parts of myself to be in that partnership—or any partnership going forward.
Author: Lori Grace (Petroff)
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Vinoth Chandar/Flickr