A pen, a journal and a conversation with myself

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From the dreams I remember, 50% of my dreams are anxiety-ridden, 30% are fun, 18% make no sense, and the remaining 2% are scary and involve ghosts, accidents, thrilling chases or death (most likely inspired by a thriller I watched.) It is the former 50% that had me curious today. For the longest time, I noticed a distinct pattern in these dreams. In almost all of them, I was agonisingly late for something. For example, my mother would be waiting to pick me up from school but there were so many obstacles that made me late such as me forgetting something and going back for it (many times) and even getting  stuck in school overnight because she had left me. I was growing tired. The fact that I have this type of dream so often led me to believe that maybe there is something deeper to it: that maybe something in real life is translating into such dreams. Could it be something leftover from my childhood that has not been resolved? 

I grabbed my journal and began writing down everything that came to my mind that could be linked to getting late during school. I wrote down how I was always anxious about getting late because I did not want to get chastised severely by my mother. I wrote down about how that made me feel scared, sad, and frustrated that my side of the story was not important, that I was expected to behave like an adult though I was only a child, that I was scared about feeling like I was never good enough or perfect enough, never wise enough or smart enough not to forget things, never good enough to be understood as a child, and to be loved regardless of my mistakes. Of course, it goes without mentioning that I do not bear a grudge against my mother – such is the “brown” parenting that most of us Sri Lankans are subject to – our parents also do not know any better as this type of disciplining is generational. Some children turn out fine, but for others, even a simple scolding can be traumatic and affect them in ways that does not make sense/is unexpected. 

I sat there unravelling pieces of my past late into the night. The pieces somehow seemed to make themselves known now with each word I wrote, although at the time I had no clue I was creating and internalising these beliefs and fears in my mind. As an adult, I am now able to placate the inner child, soothing her, reassuring her, and caring for her in a way that she did not receive before– in a way that she did not know how to show up for herself.

So, it finally made sense: the fear that I had held back then, which was to a great extent irrational, did not stay in the past. Instead, it sneakily showed up in my dreams when it was least expected, catching me off guard and confused. 

After I ended my journaling session, there was a sense of relief, of understanding, and of self-love. It dawned on me that whenever we feel inner conflict about something, it is most often indicative of a conversation yet to be had with ourselves to straighten things out, reduce the internal miscommunications, and rewrite new, truer beliefs. I invite you to also look into your inner conflicts, too. It could be anything: are you feeling jealous about something you know you do not need to be jealous of? Are you unhappy about a certain situation and you have no idea why? Or are you having dreams like me with recurring themes that you really feel like you have to get to the root of? Whatever it may be, getting your thoughts down on paper and being unafraid of unravelling layers to your mind despite how uncomfortable it may be will most likely help you understand your thought process better, help straighten any knots out, and make you feel better afterwards. Self-exploration and understanding goes a long way – and what better way to heal, and grow?

I do not know if my dream situation will improve – only time will tell. I may need to work on those inner beliefs more… but I’m hopeful, confident and insightful. Here is to more inner conflict resolution through journaling, inner curiosity, and a need to heal and grow.

edited by Nadeesha Paulis and Adria Pereira

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