Saturday, 6 June 2015
I woke up this morning, remembered my boyfriend had broken up with me, and burst into tears. Then I realised it was only a dream. But it was so real and so vivid that I felt all the emotions I had felt in the dream and was completely devastated.
It is not unusual for dreams to seep into our physical reality. Friends have told me about waking up crying, kicking a partner, shouting or falling out of bed. You only have to watch a dog sleeping to see it occasionally start running or snap at invisible butterflies as they go through the post-REM stages of sleep, so there is a fairly blurred line between conscious and subconscious.
What is quite unusual is that I remember my dreams. A massive 95% of us don’t. I think I have been programmed to remember them since I had to keep a dream diary years ago, on instruction from a keen Freudian therapist I saw called Mrs. Kind. I kid you not. She was called Mrs. Kind and she lived on Daisy Lane. I went to see her because I was struggling to get over a horrible break-up and thought she could help. I realised she was little more than useless when all she wanted to hear about were my dreams from the previous week and would then spend the following 50 minutes of the session analysing them. I do not underestimate the power of understanding your dreams… I think they are a fascinating look into our unconscious thinking, but at the time, all I wanted was a solution to my endless crying. I needed someone to fix it, rather than tell me why I was so miserable. I knew why for goodness sake!! I found the diary a couple of years ago and spent the next few hours pouring over the entries, completely fascinated. I could see, quite clearly, my fears and insecurities coming out in my dreams, so I thought I might start keeping a dream diary again. The trick is to write them down as soon as you open your eyes… the few seconds between sleep and really being awake. Keep a notebook and pen on your bedside table and grab it as soon as the alarm goes off. Honestly, it usually works.
But there is something else that happens to me sometimes and I can only call them premonition dreams. They are scarily real and always involve people I know. Sometimes I dream of things that haven’t happened yet, other times I dream of things that have happened, but I have had no possible way of knowing about them. I don’t want to completely freak you out but when these dreams happen (which is only three of four times a year, thank god), I wake up sweating and know I have to contact the person immediately. Friends and family reading this, will know of the times this has happened. The last time I had such a dream was a few months ago… I woke up and emailed my parents and sister, telling them to be careful about walking down flights of stairs. I know it sounds bonkers but I knew someone was going to fall down the stairs. Ironically, it was me, later that day. My parents and sister had kindly informed me that they had survived the day without any accidents (with a roll of the eyes, I’m sure) and so I relaxed. I went to go and put the rubbish out and fell down the stairs outside my flat! Over the years, I have emailed friends about driving particular routes when I see traffic jams or crashes in my dreams; I have phoned friends when I have dreamt they are ill; I have texted people about work problems, traveling issues, to avoid certain foods and so it goes on.
There is one occasion, however, that will never ever leave me. The premonition dream that changed my life. I had been having a few problems with my then boyfriend and we had decided to live apart for 6 months to give us both a bit of space. We continued the relationship but encouraged each other to do more things with friends and not be in each others pockets 24 hours a day. It seemed to work and we were both incredibly happy. Then one night I woke up at 3am with the most gut-wrenching feeling that he was being unfaithful. Without thinking, I got dressed and walked the 20 minutes to his flat. He wasn’t home. He wasn’t answering his phone. So I sat on his doorstep and waited. An hour later he came home, bleary-eyed from drink and lack of sleep. His face said it all. I calmly asked if he had just slept with someone else and his response was… ‘Who told you?’
I have goosebumps just writing that. At the time, it was the beginning of the end of our relationship and I was bereft. I may never have found out about him being unfaithful. I’m sure I wouldn’t. So is there a scientific explanation for my dream, or in fact, any basis for pre-recognition in any form, waking or asleep? Well, yes and no.
If I was to speak to a scientist about it, they may say that I had Unconscious Perception... enough evidence to foresee my boyfriend being unfaithful (infidelity with past girlfriends, late nights, missing in action) but had never consciously processed the information, therefore, I only figured it out in my unconscious state instead, and just happened to act on it. Other neuroscientists who have researched patients with so-called ‘future-sight’ call these sorts of dreams Selection Biased… the dreams seem so real that we choose to believe them and are just lucky if they come true. I’m not sure I would call my dream lucky!! And another explanation is Self-fulfilling Prophecy… making it happen once you have the information. So if that were true, not only would I have purposely thrown myself down the stairs to prove my dream was accurate, but I also would have wanted my boyfriend to be unfaithful to show I was right. Hmmm. I mean I know I like to always be in the right, but that’t taking it a step too far, me thinks.
Whatever the explanation, I apologise in advance if you get a weird text from me saying, ‘Avoid eating peanuts today,’ or ‘Don’t use the Northern line, use the Victoria instead!’ I’m not a doom-mongerer and I don’t mean to alarm you, it’s just a gut feeling is all. If my dream from last night is anything to go by, don’t introduce me to a man in his late 50’s with grey shoulder length hair, pale blue eyes and an earring (God forbid!). He’s going to break up with me so he’s not a nice man!