Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stuff that scares me in bed

It happened again last night.

Honestly, it had been so long since last time, I’d forgotten what it’s like.

I’m talking about the recurring dream I’ve had since childhood. It’s the dream that bubbles up out of my subconscious in times of stress, bad meals, or for no discernible reason I can fathom.

I call it “the tooth dream,” or more accurately, “holy @#$% my teeth fell out.”

Sometimes it’s just one tooth. Sometimes it’s the entire mouthful crumbling to dusty bits as I sit in a meeting trying to pretend everything’s normal.

My brain has gotten clever over the years, prompting my dreaming self to think, “damn, all these years of dreaming about it and now it really happened.”

Last night’s version was particularly disturbing, with a chunk of my jaw and three teeth just popping out like my grandma’s dentures. In the dream, I was traveling in another part of the state and decided the logical course of action was to go to the city's visitor center and call my veterinarian. She suggested I put the teeth in a padded envelope and mail them to her before eating a chocolate croissant.

I swear I couldn’t make this stuff up. If I had half the imagination when I’m awake as I do asleep, I’d be a New York Times bestseller by now.

I’ve looked up the tooth dream several times online and in dream identification books and have learned it’s actually quite common.

I can’t decide if that’s a relief or very, very disturbing.

There are a variety of theories about what the tooth dream means, ranging from stress (probably) to self-consciousness (probably not) to a fearing a loss of fertility (um, definitely not).
Nope, looks like they're all still in place.

I’m inclined to think the culprit this time is a conversation I had with my mother about the tooth fairy. Then again, it could be the overwhelming urge I felt to bite a guy who pissed me off yesterday.

Sometimes I wish I had more fun recurring dreams, like flying or showing up naked to work. Instead, I'm stuck with the damn teeth.

Do you have any recurring dreams? Have you tried to interpret them? Is your dreaming mind more creative than your wakeful one when it comes to writing?

Please share. I just realized I haven’t checked my teeth in the mirror yet this morning. Holy crap, maybe it really happened?


Anonymous said...

I've never really had a recurring dream. The closest one to be considered recurring is the dream where my hubby dies.

Yeah, not so much fun. UGH! But in the 14 years of marriage, I've only had that dream a few times. I swear, If I'd had it more, I would have been the one who died.

My poor heart.

Dreams are soooo weird.

Linda G. said...

Oh, TG has the teeth-falling-out dream, too. He blames it on wearing braces as a teenager.

My recurring dream centers around bathrooms--hi-tech, beautiful bathrooms, with lovely fixtures. I figure this means my bathroom needs updating. Either that, or I have to pee.

Patty Blount said...


Since I was little, I've had dreams where I'm walking along a street and spy a coin. I pick it up and find another, then another, in a trail. I excitedly pick up each coin I see, following the trail, expecting to find a huge pot of gold.

I've ALWAYS awakened before I reached the end of the trail.

Taymalin said...

I get the teeth dreams too. They're awful.

When I was 3 or 4, I had a recurring nightmare about a giant who thought I was a cookie. He would lift the roof off of my house like it was a cookie jar lid. I would hide under the blanket and he would say delightful things like "where my cookie go?" and "I want eat cookie".

Now, instead of the giant, I have Freddy Kreuger dreams (thanks to a traumatic event whenn I was 6--ie. My brother forcing me to watch the movies, then hiding under my bed to grab me while I was falling asleep--I'm terrified of Kreuger). Whenever I'm stressed out, or working through emotional issues, he shows up.

Fun dreams are never recurring. I can actually think of a couple of more recurring nightmares, but I've rambled on long enough :)

Sierra said...

I've totally had that dream. The worst version was when I kept mouth closed and could feel them rattling around behind my lips, and then had to go spit them out. *shudders* I hate that frickin' dream so much...

Last night I dreamed that I was getting married (to a guy who's not my guy) and then it fell through because he didn't like the way my hair smelled sans body splash or the way my family supported each other. At least I got cake in the dream.

Brandi Guthrie-Sellers said...

I've had the teeth dream, too! It totally freaks me out. I'm usually extra diligent with my tooth-care for the next few weeks. :)

Laura Maylene said...

I get the tooth dream from time to time, too. They loosen and crumble and then all fall out. It's awful. And I can't believe I forgot about it when I wrote my tooth fairy entry.

I sometimes grind my teeth in my sleep, so I always wonder if I'm grinding away when I have this dream.

My main recurring dreams: Trying desperately to run but being unable to...feeling so slow and underwater. Or same thing when trying to hit/fight someone. The most stressful dream, though, is when I have to pack up a bunch of things by a specific time and I am just plain unable to. I can't get organized and keep gathering and regathering and losing things. It's so stressful.

It seems clear that a lot of my dreams are about losing control.

Lisa_Gibson said...

I used to have a recurring dream that I was dressed as a flapper and meeting my fiancee in the park (I never get to see his face). He was attacked and I ran. The attacker grabbed me as I was trying to unlock my door. I would always wake up at that point. I that dream for a few years. Haven't had it in ages though. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Bookewyrme said...

I don't usually have recurring dreams (especially not the teeth dream! Eep!) but I do get interesting ones. There's a certain state of sleep, just before I wake up, where my brain tells me coherent stories. In these, I'm usually not any of the characters and I know it's a dream. Sometimes I can even influence the action a bit, and its always a bit like watching a movie in terms of vividness. I've actually been close enough to a notebook to write down all the important details before I forget twice now, and one is going to be my next novel. I dunno if it'll be any good yet, but I have high hopes! The only problem is, I always wake up before the end!


Anonymous said...

I have the tooth dream too and there are different levels and versions. I've even had the crumbly dust!!! Frightening! I always wake, sit straight up in bed and finger each tooth to make sure they're still there. (Did I just say finger?) And my hair has fallen out or I've shaven a checkerboard into the side of my head. Hubby asks, "What's going on?" I say, "Just checking to make sure I still have my teeth and hair." Hubby says, "Again?" He's immune by now. Whew, so glad to know it's not just me.

Charity Bradford said...

I have the tooth dream a lot as well. I'm usually standing in front of the bathroom mirror and they fall out in a bloody mess.

The other reoccurring theme are: I'm back in high school and I can't remember the combination to my locker, and I'm in the bathroom in a public place but there are no walls or stalls. Just people watching me, so of course I can't go. This usually wakes me up and I take a trip to the bathroom just to make sure everything still works. :)

abby mumford said...

i'll join the masses and say that, yes, i too have had the teeth falling out dream multiple times. but i always attribute it to, well, stress and the fact that i'm obsessed with teeth. nothing sexier than a straight set of pearly whites.

the only other themes that re-occur are that i have to pee or that i'm really really really late and can't get to my final destination on time.

and yes, for your information, i always show up on time when i have to use the bathroom.

Dawn said...

Wow, gorgeous smile. No wonder you worry about losing it!

I have a recurring dream about my mother and I getting along - which we haven't for about four years. The dream always ends in reality, sadly.

ExMagistra said...

My mom has the tooth dream a lot, so she says.

This will sound disturbing, but I often have dreams (actually haven't had one for quite a while) in which I have to kill someone, whether an intruder or a random person former First Lady Nancy Reagan needed me to off. Apparently these dreams have something to do with a big change coming.

Debs Riccio said...

Yup - I used to get the tooth dream a lot too. Just like a horror movie, I'd see a front one chip and then I'd fiddle with it until it fell out and then they'd all fall out into the basin. And, like Sierra, have had them rattling about inside my mouth.
More commonly, though my recurring dreams involve needing a pee really badly and then finding the only loo is either full of cr*p already or else there're no walls separating the cubicles.
No idea what toilet dreams mean.

Anonymous said...

This must be in the zeitgeist because i blogged about dreams on friday. If you want to fall on the floor laughing, go check out the comments where other writers contributed their dreams. HYSTERICAL!

My recent drea that prompted the blog. I was married to Christian Bale Dark Knight Bat Man. Not only was I married to him, but apparently we were going through a nasty divorce and custody battle. To make matters worse, apparently Bat Man didn’t want a divorce and had kind of gone all Sleeping with the Enemy. I have a feeling that I finally got the nerve to leave him because I was tired of him freaking out every time I didn’t fold his bat cape correctly or organize his bat tools facing forward. Just guessing. Anyway the entire dream is me—normal person lacking any cool gadgets or super powers—trying to run away from a superhero who has gone foaming-at-the-mouth-raving-crazy. I ran through parking garages and dove under cars and just about the time I found a safe hiding place? Our infant son starts crying, giving away our position in the bushes. WTH? I know. It was actually pretty terrifying.

I have never had the "losing-teeth dream" but I have some other doozies. Great blog as always!

Kristen Lamb

Douglas Morrison said...

Dreams are tricky things. Most are dependent on a current mind-set, thought or circumstance.

Some have a deeper meaning, usually based on a point of self-vision. What you see in the mirror or within yourself as a strength or weakness can inspire dream content. This means that dreams, such as the "tooth dream" are actually normal, in that we are constantly looking at ourselves when conscious.

The tooth dream has to do with mortality, (Have a look at what Nietzsche thought about humor being based on loneliness and mortality if you want to ruin your day, LOL). Mortality, in this case, not meaning that great goodnight, but the dread of the loss of a part of you that is held dear or a strength: Your smile (Which is great by the way) A smile can mean your ability to convey humor, happiness or personality.

You can't lose what is innately you and in you humor abounds

Is it to late to say I enjoyed your post? :-)

Sleep well...


harddrive said...

The only good part of the tooth dream is waking up to find they are still firmly rooted in my skull. I haven't had one of those in a while, but look forward to tonight's episode now that my subconscious has been alerted.

My favorite though is the falling dream, where at the last second I either swoop out of the dive like a fighter plane, or just land on my feet and walk away. Strange.

Mary said...

Wow--so many of your readers must be all stressed out! I join the ranks of tooth dreams. Mine are all loose and bloody. Fabulous.

Michelle Wolfson said...

Is it weird that I got a reminder from the dentist today to schedule an appointment??

Nicole Zoltack said...

I don't remember my dreams very often but the only recurring dream I have is losing my teeth. I did research on it, like you, and found that it meant afraid of getting older. I'm only 26! So I'm more inclined to believe the stress theory.

Katherine C said...

I TOTALLY have the tooth dream too. And yeah it's pretty terrifying. I believe it's stress-related...

demery bader-saye said...

My recurring dream is about people climbing in my windows... shudder. And I always dream that I'm awake when it's happening.

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

When I first moved to FL I had a recurring dream about alligators eating my dogs. Last year, the dream changed to being about my infant daughter. It was VERY disturbing. So real I would wake up crying. Thankfully, it has stopped. I never had a recurring dream before that and have not since.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Re: your poll. I can't believe so far most people have chosen 'neck' as the place they most like to be kissed. As part of my psychology degree, this highly flippin interests me! Are you going to write a blog post about your poll once it closes? Don't worry, I'm not asking for qualitative and quantitative survey results ;)

Tawna Fenske said...

lynnrush, yikes! That IS a lousy dream!

Linda G, interesting, I had braces as a kid, too. Wonder if TG is onto something?

Patty, that's fascinating, have you ever looked it up to see if it's common and what people think it means?

Taymalin, I'm surprised you still speak to your brother after that!

Sierra, was it tough to eat the cake with no teeth? :)

Brandi, I'm fascinated by how many other people are saying they have the tooth dream. We should form a support group!

Laura, interesting theory about te losing control thing!

Lisa, OK, now THAT is an odd recurring dream. What do you think the flapper thing is all about?

Bookewyrme/Lia, I do the same thing in that waking up stage! Kinda fun to control your dreams.

Valeriebrbr, I have the head shaving dreams, too! There must be a link between the hair and the teeth. Vanity, perhaps? :)

Charity, you know, I'd never thought about it before, but there's never any blood in my tooth dreams. Just teeth falling out. Weird.

Abby, LOL, so when you wake up, do you pee first or check your teeth?

Dawn, aw, thanks! Credit my parents with good dental care and orthodontia when I was a kid. Sorry to hear things are not so good with your mom.

ExMagistra, that Nancy Reagan...always hiring citizens to kill people.

ExMagistra, oh, that's the worst! When you're fiddling with your teeth in the dream and they start falling out one by one.

warriorwriter/Kristen, somehow I missed that post of yours. Too funny! The comments are hysterical and your BatMan dream...um, yeah. Wow.

Douglas, well thanks. I think I'll go throw myself off the roof now :)

harddrive, I'm not sure I've ever had the falling dream. Watch, I pretty much just guaranteed I'll have it tonight.

Mary, sheesh, what are we all so stressed about?

Michelle, yikes! You just reminded me I have an appointment next week. Thanks.

Nicole, yeah, kinda how I feel about the theory that the tooth dream has to do with a fear of infertility. Um, nope...pretty sure NOT!

Katherine, do they crumble or just fall out one by one for you?

demery, that's freaky! Do you sleep with your windows locked?

Elizabeth, that would scare the crap out of me. How often were you having that dream?

Suz, the poll is for a post I'll be doing at The Debutante Ball on Friday. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading, guys!


Abby Minard said...

Yes! I've had one since I went to college which has been over 10 years now. It's basically where i'm at school- usually high school- and I can't remember my locker combination, or I can't remember where my locker is, or I don't remember that I had a test that day, or I don't remember I signed up for this class that I haven't been going to for the past few months. Its either a combination or all those, or just one. But it totally sucks, and I really feel like I'm back in high school again! I think it has to do with stress and everything I have to remember in my life!

I did have a break-through the last time I had my dream- I FOUND my locker combination! Have no idea what that means...but it was awesome.

Claire Dawn said...

I break celebrity hearts in my dreams.

Somtimes they do weird things. Like they decide to fight over me, but they do it by cucumber duel.

Yeah, it's like that.

Elisabeth Black said...

I have the tooth dream too!

Lynne Kelly Hoenig said...

Wow, I'm surprised at all the people who've had the tooth dream! I'd never heard of it before.

Besides the forgot-to-study dreams, the only recurring one I can think of is one where my car is driving in reverse and I can't stop it no matter how much I hit the brake. That must mean something but I can't think what.

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

First off, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh out loud while you were telling us about such a scary dream. Please forgive me.

That is such a scary dream. My hand would totally fly up to my mouth as soon as I woke up.

I always dream about being chased by animals. I don't own any pets and I'm not particularly afraid of any animals in "real life" so I'm not sure what this means.