April 29, 2015


Something perhaps a little strange, but also probably not, is that after I lost my weight, I realized that I didn't dream as much. Or maybe I did and didn't remember, which would still be a big change: at my largest, I dreamed in incredible detail, and would wake up to hastily scribble down notes and process it all when I was more conscious.

I'm not terribly smart about science, but I always assumed that the dreaming had to do with what happened to my body at night. At my largest, I would eat a lot, then go to bed - so while my body rested, it was also still working to digest an incredibly high number of calories. My theory was that because my body was still working so hard, my brain kept working too, filling my mind with incredibly detailed thoughts and images while I slept.

The theory was tested as I started to lose weight - my binge eating stopped, and so did the late-night eating. My life was incredibly regimented - breakfast at 8, lunch at 12, snack at 3, gym at 5, dinner at 7, blogging, and then bed. And the dreams tapered off and then ended almost entirely.

Now, as I hold tight to the cliff and try not to entirely free-fall back to rock bottom, the dreams are back, in as much detail as ever.

Last night, after the latest in a series of arguments with my husband as we try to settle our business in South Carolina before he relocates in two weeks, I sat down in front of the TV with cookies and milk, which sounds normal until you start to consider quantities of each. I watched my show, quietly shoveling the food and wondering what it will take for me to stop doing the things that I know hurt me. Then I cleaned up the mess (or, cleared away the evidence) and got myself ready for bed.

I was jolted awake shortly after 5 a.m. with tears in my eyes.

In the dream, I was in a birthing center - however, I was laying on a doctor's examination table in the position I usually sleep in (kind of on my belly/side). I had a large pregnant belly under my hospital gown. I was laboring, and as bizarre as it sounds, I could feel it - I felt the pain in my back and urged the man with me (unknown - but it wasn't Matthew) to hold my hand, that I was having another contraction. A doctor came in to take a heartbeat, and said she can't find one, that we were going to have to go through with delivery, but that the baby was no longer alive.

That was where I woke up, and I'm grateful that my brain gave me the message without the imagery that could've been paired with it. No birth, no grieving or mourning. Just the doctor's news, and then - awake.

Having studied literature in college and graduate school, I'm usually the one my friends turn to when they need a dream interpreted. The interesting thing about dream interpretation is that our brains dream the same way authors of fiction tend to write: full of images that represent greater ideas, actions that have meaning beyond what we see on the surface. Our brains are creative, but not terribly unique - sometimes the meaning of a dream can be personal, but often, the symbols and images are fairly standard, and you can interpret them the same way you would if a character in a book or movie was to see them.

So what, then, does stillbirth mean? For me, right now - a lot. It's me, nurturing something, carrying it close to my heart, and then seeing it be unsuccessful and not come to fruition at the moment when I expected that it would.

It's my marriage.

It's my weight loss.

It's a lot of things that I am grieving right now, even if I didn't see that part of the process in my dream.

I don't want to keep eating poorly to induce these dreams, but I don't want to let go of them, either - at least not to their meaning. I want to listen to what my subconscious is telling me. When I sleep, when my mind is allowed to roam and rest where it knows I need work, dealing with what is most important, this is where it goes.


Jill Walker said...

Perhaps you could look at it as a cautionary tale, instead...you are laboring intensely to deliver a 'goal' that you fear may be dead. But you don't know that for sure, you just know what you've been told (or what you're telling yourself?). You haven't actually seen any evidence that your 'goal' is dead, it's just your fear manifesting itself. And just like in literature, unless you see the body go 'gak', it ain't dead yet. :) Stay strong, you can do this!

Debby said...

I myself dream every night. I don't typically eat anything after 7 though, so I'm not sure that mine is related to that. I've dreamt for as long as I remember though and also sleep talk and sleep walk. I started walking at 7, and I certainly wasn't bigger then! However, that being said, sometimes my dreams are crazy and I'm not sure what they could mean. Such as my dream the other night about a black man having sex with his family cat to say "goodbye". Yeah weird. But when there is something bothering me it definitely pops up in my dreams and it's easy to interpret what it means. I actually wouldn't mind a night without dreams though as I did a sleep study and I hardly ever get into a restful sleep.

73551CA said...

What a disturbing dream. I'm sorry! It's good you're able to make sense of it and process it. ((Hugs))