Dream Journaling Through Life, Marriage, and Divorce

10 Aug

Dark Days Ahead by Perry McKenna

Dark Days Ahead by Perry McKenna


Few readers of this blog know this, but I am going through a divorce right now. In fact, I am 3 months separated.

It would suffice to say this is a pretty terrible period of my life.  The upheaval this has caused in my day to day living is one reason why my work on Dreaming Life has been so spotty for most of 2008.

What I find interesting and want to talk about in this article is how I can see reflections of my marriage and divorce in my dreams.

I got married 4 years ago last month.

Around that time, and for many months, I had dream after dream of fighting off sexual encounters with women.

All the dreams were of the same theme: a woman trying to seduce me or otherwise become intimate with me, and my struggle against it.

In most of the dreams, I would not do anything sexual with the woman. Sometimes I would.

These were weird dreams & I often felt guilty about having them. Here I was just recently married, and I’m having dream after dream about trying not to have sex with other women!

I know these dreams were about my (unconscious) anxiety of being committed to one woman for the rest of my life. Having had a step-father who had an affair and seeing first hand the horrors this brought on to the family, I believe my psyche had a fear of myself somehow doing the same thing.

Even though I very often told my wife about my dreams, I never mentioned these dreams to her.

After some months, they faded away & I didn’t think about them anymore.

Fast forward a few years, and you can see from my dream journal some crazy shit.

In March of 2007, after a gut-wrenching experience of seeing my wife performing tango for the first time, a hobby that came to be one of the biggest points of tension in our relationship, I had the following dream, as noted in my dream journal:

Some horrible dream with <my stepdad>  in it…
He’s sitting on the couch, and he gets up, and I’m trying to push him back
He suggests/threatens that maybe he should go see her/touch her/in some way interact with <my wife>, and I’m forcibly trying to push him back

This is the same step-father who had an affair.

In this dream he represents what I saw her dancing as; a threat to our marriage. And here I am struggling between my wife and my step-father, trying to push him away, and he keeps fighting to get at her.

The weeks after we physically moved out from living together,  I have many emotional dreams on change, fear, feeling suffocated, and so on.

Here’s a snippet from June 19th, 2008:

I’m outside and suddenly there’s a enormous force in the atmosphere, pulling everyone and everything out, uprooting them. I realize it’s the end of the world –  this is it, some natural disaster, global warning, something – and I’m going to die.

I try to think to myself of something important, of something to hold on to while/if I’m going to die, and I tell l myself “I love <my wife>.”

Having a dream about the end of the world is bad enough, but the end of this dream was just… brutal.

I woke up and felt terrible. What was this all about? Holding onto my feelings for my wife when everything is changing? It was incredibly painful.

The next week on June 24, in my journal I find a summary of a different dream as:

>intense dream – unable to move, captive, going to die.

And so on.

While we were still together, I recall a dream of drowning and trying my hardest to keep my head above the water. (Which I did!)

Long before this, there was this dream of beautiful cinematic quality, again touching on the end of the world theme. It’s our final moment, and we know this. We hold each other tightly, exchanging a final  “I love you.” Then we die together, arm in arm, as we (and the world) burn up in ashes.

flower.... blue sky And now in the present, where I am struggling with just going to work and staying afloat and deciding what to do with myself and my life, it’s interesting to see how this manifests in my dreams.

Hours ago I was in a different world, one in which I experienced many things such as being paralyzed by fear and unable to move or make a decision, with dreams of humiliation, fighting, and belittlement.

It’s no coincidence that I had these dreams last night after an evening of some rough emotional reflection my life.

…. …. …..

In summary:

Well, there is no grand summary, or happy ending to this story. Life is rough.

But like my Grandma said to me recently:  this too shall pass.

Photo by Perry McKenna.

4 Responses to “Dream Journaling Through Life, Marriage, and Divorce”

  1. Chad August 14, 2008 at 3:03 pm #


    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. I think keeping track of your internal states is not only interesting but therapeutic as well. Send me an email if you need to talk.

  2. Ryan August 15, 2008 at 5:46 pm #

    Ben, this post is really touching. thanks for sharing your journey, especially how the dreams helped cue you into the tensions in your relationship. this is the kind of personal experience that most people don’t get to hear.

    on a more selfish note, I’m glad you’re back online; the dream space was quiet without you!

  3. Ben August 26, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    Thanks for your comments guys. Affirms my intention that I should open up a bit more on this blog and me myself. Thanks again.

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