an emotional winter

Hi Meredith—

Whenever we experience a series of recurring dreams, we want to think back to the events occurring in our pasts when the dream began. Given the background you provide, your dream almost certainly started in conjunction with your divorce. In the dream you are forced to accomplish a difficult mission by yourself, and you are alone.

Journeys in dreams represent spiritual struggles and quests - projects we have to work hard at, for long periods of time. Water in dreams represents emotions. Accordingly, the bodies of water that you encounter on your journey represent periods of emotional challenge that you know you must surmount and “get through,” so you can continue on your path. It also is significant that the goal you seek to reach in the dream never is clearly identified. Instead, the journey itself is the destination.

Themes of cold and isolation pervade this dream. Is it fair to say that, in the wake of your divorce 16 years ago, you experienced an “emotional winter” in your life? The aggravation you feel reflects your lingering disappointment that you were forced to make your journey alone - without a partner. The important mission, we know, is your commitment to your family. Significantly, however, you always are confident in your decision. You know you will reach your destination, and that you have chosen the right path.

Despite its cold exterior, your dream actually is a warm portrait of brave determination in a challenging time. What a cold world it truly would be, without the warmth of the feminine heart.

Dear DreamDoctor—

Thank you so much for your insight. The more I thought about the dream starting with my divorce, the more I understood it’s significance.

I left my ex-husband after 19 years because he treated me so poorly. It took a tremendous amount of courage to tell him I was leaving. I had no real job skills and had the future of the children to think about. The day the divorce was final he smirked at me and said, “You’ll never make it out there without me. It won’t be anytime until you come crawling back, begging me to take you and the kids in.” I didn’t argue back. I just thought to myself..“I’ll show you, you cold -------!” (The cold in the dream relates to the coldness so prevalent in my previous marriage, just like you said.)

When I was married to my ex, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. He was much older than I and controlled every aspect of my life. If I had times of accomplishment he found a way to put me down. When I left him, I discovered that I could do many things well. Even though we lived hundreds of miles apart, there were times when I had to communicate with him concerning the children. The conversations were very businesslike and sometimes hostile. It always upset me. Those occasions are the times that I think the dream would occur. And I think that there might have been triggers, like a movie about a couple with similar problems, or a particular challenge at work. But, I have noticed that the dream isn’t occurring as much since the children left the nest. Being married to my husband helps too.

Without a lot of experience in learning to take care of myself and the children, I accomplished many things by the seat of my pants and a lot of trial and error. (Having to be creative in finding a way through or over the water.) When I think back on all the struggles that the children and I had to go through only to come out on top, what a rewarding journey! I am so grateful for what I’ve accomplished and all the people who helped me along the way. Needing to know the destination wasn’t important because I know, now, that nothing or no one could deter me from my goal. I had already arrived. The sheer will, the blessings of strength, hope and vision from God that I had the day I walked out on my own was the destination. I had the journey’s end with me all along.

I have thought a lot about the dream and with your interpretation so many things make sense. Having that dream was something that I would not have looked forward to. But if I have the dream again, I think I will enjoy it because I am so content with what I think it means.

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