Dreams of Closure

Life is filled with unfinished stories. You can’t always have the happy closing endings that could leave us emotionally intact. Life is messy. It can leave us confused, vulnerable, and numb. Sometimes, we don’t get answers to our questions– often times because we’ve lost the person who can answer. Or, we don’t want to confront truths about ourselves or situations in our lives. Surely, the package of life includes fair measures to tie loose ends in our story. For me, this emotional compensation comes in dreams. Dreams of closure are common and shatter all the limitations that prevent you from healing heartbreak.

I have not had a conversation with my dad since I was 11 years old. I often wonder what it would be like for him to meet the college version of myself. What would we talk about? What would he think of me? What kind of dad would he be at this age? Every few weeks, he casually enters one of my dreams. He comes back to life, and I finally get to live out memories with him, new and old. We talk about things that I don’t remember once I’m awake, but are fulfilling nonetheless. The questions I have about my dad haven’t disappeared over the years. But, I’ve found that a lot of my emotional work is done in my dreams. Or, at least, my dreams prompt me to understand my emotions.

Dreams are filled with patterns of our emotions, thoughts, observations, both subconscious and conscious. There are dreams that are totally fun and not emotionally-jarring, others that are insignificant and relaxed, and carry a lot of emotional or otherwise meaningful weight. There are long histories of people who believed dreams were messages from the otherworldly (notably, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Hebrew, to name a few). Others, especially pop-psychology fanatics, assert that dreams hold symbols that speak volumes about one’s mental state. Regardless of the framework of understanding people have in interpreting dreams, the commonality among all people seems to be that dreams can be emotionally stimulating experiences.

Through dreams, sleeping becomes an extension of real life. You have 7-9 more hours a day to live through experiences that have real emotional outcomes (good and bad), but without the social pressures and lasting consequences of real life. Sleep is the time your brain uses to filter out the patterns of your conscious and subconscious. The situations your brain shows you are helpful, sometimes distressing, and at times, present unresolved situations.

“Our emotions don’t always know the difference between a real life
event or an event that happened in a dream. What matters is the healing we’ve gained, as a result of the experience.”

Dreams can also draft scenarios of healing heartbreak– reproducing scenarios and conversations you may never get to have in real life. They can allow you to finish a story that left you heartbroken. They allow you the space to truly feel what you need to feel and to experience the situation as if it were real. Dreams grant you liberation from repressed emotions, unfinished business, or unanswered questions you didn’t even know you had.

The night of my grandpa’s (who passed 9 years ago) birthday last year, I had a dream where he found out I was bisexual. I am not out to anyone in my family yet. I was terrified, even in the dream. But immediately, the dream version of my grandpa responded with deep reassurance and love. I cried every time I recounted the dream the next day. Dreams remind us of people from whom we’ve gained so much, whose opinions matter to us, but who we can no longer talk to. The dream helped me feel grounded. It was real assurance and love granted by my grandpa. Even thinking of the dream now feels like thinking back at a real-life, visceral experience.

Our emotions don’t always know the difference between a real life event or an event that happened in a dream. What matters is the healing we’ve gained, as a result of the experience.

Paying attention to my dreams is healing. There are professionals who can also help, coupling dream interpretations with the context of your waking life, along with years of knowledge on the human brain.

Dreams are a great way of receiving closure, healing past and current heartbreak, and more. They can grant us the reassurance we need, give us answers and endings to cliffhangers. Dreams are one of the greatest “unnecessities” of our brains and, in my opinion, one of the coolest gifts of life. 

Featured Photo by Tamarcus Brown

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