I recently came across your column and really liked your dream interpretations. I have a recurring dream from childhood that I’ve always wondered about.
I had this dream over and over again as a child. So much so that I was afraid to go to bed! In it, I am alone on a heavily-jungled island being chased by a lion. The lion is right behind me and I am running as fast as I can and I am terrified! Just before he gets me I scramble up a palm tree to safety. But suddenly I am naked and everyone I know is standing at the bottom of the tree and laughing at me.
FYI – as a child I had a bully of a brother who tormented and humiliated me.
Dear Never Forgot,
Thank you so much for your kind words. My goal is to be helpful, always.
Your childhood dream is a dramatic version of a type of recurring dream common to children: being chased and threatened by a monster. Children seem to know inherently that they are dependent upon those who are larger and stronger. This in itself can hold an element of fear. Being beholden to those who could harm you if they chose to doesn’t lend itself to comfort!
World-renowned authority on sleep and dreaming Ernest Hartmann, M.D., puts it this way:
“…Every…child who is just developing the cognitive structure to realize…who’s safe and who’s unsafe or unpredictable, and to realize how relatively powerful all adults are, is bound to have some of this sense of vulnerability…Nightmares of being chased or attacked by monsters or strange animals are extremely common among the dreams of children.”
Your dream incorporates the added element of your daytime reality with a brutal brother! So sorry you had to endure that!
The fact that in your dream you are alone on an island intensifies your anxiety and sense of isolation. Maybe in waking life you didn’t feel like you could tell your parents about your predicament for fear of their reaction. Did they dismiss your nightmares or laugh at your dread? Your dream speaks to this by showing that even though you were able to escape to safety each time in the dream, all your fears and frailties are made known to others, exposed by your nakedness in the dream. And they didn’t come to your assistance! It just makes it doubly distressing and hurtful, doesn’t it? Children and adults prefer to suffer their insecurities in private.
What a powerful and fearsome set of images – still alive so many years later! I’m sure you’re glad to leave that dream behind!
Such experiences are important to note for your own children now who may naturally experience similar fears. Listen to the little ones, Dear Dreamer. Their dreams are real to them. Better to train them and rehearse with them how to deal with such fears, real or imagined.
Sweet Dreams to You!