Have you ever had a recurring dream? For most of my adult life I’ve had dreams about public restrooms. Yeah, that’s pretty weird.
Once every few weeks or so I have a dream in which I really need to go to the bathroom but when I walk in, it’s either disgustingly filthy or seriously lacking in privacy – or both. I had one of these dreams a couple of weeks ago, and I thought maybe I would write a blog post about it, but then I thought no one would want to read about gross bathrooms. Last night I had another one. Clearly, my subconscious has been trying to tell me something for about the past 15 years, and I haven’t gotten the message yet. Maybe someone reading this can help me figure it out. You never know, right?
The dream I had about two weeks ago was particularly vivid and striking. I was at a restaurant for dinner, and I went to use the restroom. I walked in and discovered it was co-ed, and there was a line of people waiting. The good news about this one is that it was clean. Shortly, a stall became available, and the man sitting on the floor in front of it told me he was just waiting for a friend, so it was my turn. I felt a little uncomfortable about going into the stall when he was sitting right in front of it, but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go. Inside the stall was very cramped. It was difficult to move my arms. I felt quite constrained, and I noticed that the partition walls were not as tall as they should have been. Just then, a “dirty old man” looked over the door at me and then ran away. I managed to finish my business, wash my hands, and get out of there. The dream continued as I left the restroom and ran into two of my former students outside. These two teenage girls eagerly asked for my advice on a serious topic. I gave them my strong opinion, and they seemed likely to act on what I said. I don’t remember if anything happened after that.
Last night’s dream was more typical. The restroom I entered had small puddles on the floor, and I think I was wearing only socks on my feet. I was careful about where I stepped. I was carrying two coats and was looking for a clean place to set them down. There was a long row of toilets but essentially no stalls around them, just a short, translucent screen next to every other one. I was trying to decide which toilet seemed to offer the most privacy when more people began to enter the restroom, including two men. Feeling I would have no privacy at all, I left to look for another restroom. These dreams usually end this way with no relief for me because it is either too dirty or too public.
According to the book The Secret Language of Dreams by David Fontana, “to dream of unsuccessfully finding a toilet may indicate a conflict between the need to express oneself in public and a fear of doing so.” I bought this book years ago, and I’ve read this sentence many times, but it hasn’t really helped me figure out what my mind is trying to tell me. I mean, I’m well aware that I struggle with social anxiety disorder, and that certainly keeps me from expressing myself in public quite frequently. I don’t need to dream about toilets to figure that out. Actually, when I started this blog just about a year ago, I thought that might put an end to the dreams because I’ve been expressing some pretty personal stuff here, but clearly that hasn’t worked.
Maybe this book that is based in Freudian and Jungian psychology has it all wrong. Maybe there’s some connection I’m just not making. I don’t know, but I really would be quite happy if I never had another dream about a dirty bathroom with no stalls, and I don’t think they will stop until I figure out what they mean and face the issue they are trying to bring to light. If you have any ideas for me, please share them! And if you don’t have any ideas, feel free to share any meaningful dreams you have had.