Personal Entries

It’s always been there

Last night I dreamed of finding a small cupboard tucked into the wall under my home’s staircase.  At floor level, the cupboard’s door slid to the side to reveal a cache of painting and drawing supplies,  and a handful of wooden dowel rods needed to fix the balusters the boys have knocked loose through the years. Behind the supplies were baskets of treasures: my sons’ baby pictures, years worth of lovingly made  Mother’s Day gifts and misspelled school essays and poems.

Marveling at what I’d found –what I didn’t know I was missing –I knelt to pull out nursery school projects and charcoal pencils, wood glue and gauche. My heart swelled as I deciphered  little boy handwriting, and I laughed out loud as I sorted through everything I needed to create beautiful things, to repair what was broken.

“Oh my gosh, look at all this!”  I said to Karen, who stood behind me in my dream. “I must have put all this in here.  When did I do that? How did I not know it was here?”

From behind me, silence.  I’m the Queen of Missing The Obvious, and I expected the usual smart-a** remark Karen has had plenty of opportunities to practice making.

“Karen, ” I said, as I turned to look at her,  “how did I not know all this was here?”

“It’s always been there, ”  she said, quietly.  “You just forgot.”




10 thoughts on “It’s always been there

  1. Katie, aka Vaka,

    I received your email response. I am delighted:

    1. that the first part of your response (as I read it) essentially confirms the first part of my analysis (See the second part of paragraph 6 of the analyisis.) ; and

    2. that you were not offended by my analysis.

    I offered that analysis because have benefitted many times from doing such an analysis on my own dreams. As a person who for a very long time was truly “not in touch with my feelings”, I had to disinter them from deep in myself, and Freudian analysis of my dreams was the way I did it.

    I also was particularly interested in and in fact loved your dream post because it gave me an insight into just how deep a mother’s love for her children is–and, helpfully for me, it did so in the same manner as I used to discover how deep my own feelings were about various things and people! The imagery of that dream really drove home to me that your love for them is near the core of your being. This fact, which is probably true about most mothers, is not one that I’ve been able to experience directly in my life, for various reasons.


    1. I wasn’t offended at all, Leonard! I do, however, have a wicked knee-jerk reaction to anyone telling me what I’m thinking/feeling/what’s motivating me! It’s one of the few things that makes me come out swinging. Not swinging in offense or anger, just swinging.

      But, “OH NO, no, no, no, no, wrong, wrong, wrong,” isn’t an intelligent reaction to your analysis, and so to come out swinging required I think about this dream a bit more than I might have, otherwise.

      And, while the dream wasn’t about a man, I do think it is probably tied to a man, and what is happening in my life.

  2. I have to disagree with your analysis there, Nightman1. I can say, after ten years of being friends with Katie, that I have never known her to view another person as a DIY project, even sub-consciously. I have, however been very aware of her constant day-to-day struggle to keep her sons and herself safe and healthy and taken care of – a struggle that has been waged both financially and emotionally (not to mention the strain of trying to keep her household in reasonable physical repair). The stresses have left her worried that her sons had missed out on a part of their childhoods, and that she had let them down.

    After an extremely long period of uncertainty and worry, she has, within the past several months, reached a point in her life where she is finding her footing and realizing that she does have the means to make life beautiful and full after all. And the means were there all along – because she is the means. She is the one with the gifts to make life a banquet for her and her loved ones. This is not a dream about finding flaws – it’s a dream about not being paralyzed by fear and uncertainty anymore. Her boys didn’t lose out on their childhood — it was right there, with their mother, and it’s been full and enriching. I am happy to see my friend look into those long-hidden places and find that she is able to gain access all the lovely things that she had thought were lost.

    1. Oh, Karen, my eyes were full of tears when I read Katie’s post, but after I read your reply I was an absolute basket case. Thank you. That was beautiful.

  3. ….or, if the kids are 100 percent alright, then the dream says, no doubt about a man in your life (Whatchu think those “rods” are in there for, huh?), “look, I made these great kids by lavishing my love and skill on them. I can fix this man the same way!”

    (Thus the volunteer dream analyst waffles a bit, in light of not knowing all the facts of your life.)


    1. Leonard, brace yourself! You and Freud would be wrong.

      And to be honest, the idea of “fixing” anyone is distasteful to me. What can be more disrespectful to others than feeling one has the skills and the superiority to “fix” another? Why would I have the right to decide something that isn’t mine needs “fixed” in the first place?

      What I feel the dream probably meant:

      More than anything, I struggle with feeling that the divorce and the difficult years that followed have robbed the boys of a certain amount of childhood joy they would have felt had I been able to stick it out in the marriage; that MY failings have led to my children suffering. That’s a parent’s worst nightmare. In the dream, when I found mementos of childhood happiness, I was hugely relieved to realize that I had been wrong; I had done better than I thought I had, and there was happiness I had not accounted for. My wish is to be the best mother I can to the three amazing souls I’ve been so lucky to have in my life.

      The dowel rods. Sometimes a dowel rod is just…..a dowel rod. For those who know me well, they know that my home is a huge source of stress. The gutters, the roof, the garage doors….the things I can’t afford to tend to are many, and I am constantly reminded that I’m falling short; that there isn’t enough of me to do all I need to do. Finding that I did indeed have the resources at hand to repair my home; to fix where I was falling short? It was a huge relief. My wish is to have a home that feels like a safe haven, not a constant, overwhelming burden.

      The art supplies…. As an artist, the need to create is a compelling one which often wakes me in the middle of the night. Art supplies are expensive, and I have a hard time justifying spending on something unnecessary; anything that won’t bring in an income. Finding a cache of art supplies? Heaven. My wish is to be able to do what brings me joy.

      This was a dream about me; fiinding and rediscovering peace and strength within myself.

  4. I’ve read Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams”–twice, once when I was a teenager and again when I was in my 40s. I know he’s in eclipse now because we have all those cool mood drugs, but I thought the insights into dream content in that book were fantastic.

    Based on good old Mr. F., I believe this is the key sentence in the description:

    “I laughed out loud as I sorted through everything I needed to create beautiful things, to repair what was broken.”

    I believe this is a wish dream, which Freud said ALL dreams were. (I think he went overboard a bit with that “all”.) The wish is symbolized in the dream in a form that could be expected from a person who creates things with her hands.

    What is the wish FOR? Why, “to create beautiful things, to repair what was broken”.

    And, based on the nature of the material you found, this would be a wish to “fix” flaws in your kids. Perhaps they are flaws that you think you caused, and the dream closet accordingly contains momentos of all the years of love you gave them–which, the dream declares, was the full measure of love they needed; so you are not to blame for any flaws apparent in them now. The dream makes that claim in the feelings you report having in it, and in the fact of the wealth of materials memorializing the love and attention you gave your children over the years.

    “Surely”, the dream then goes on to say (wish), “all that love that made them good still has the power to fix the flaws I see in them”–a power you now can exercise in the same manner as you would fix a jewelry piece that you had made and that had turned out just a bit out of true.


    Hey, don’t blame me! Ever since I read that book the second time I can never resist opportunities like this.


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