From a young age I can remember having recurring dreams. Back then, the dream that I had frequently was something of a nightmare. These days, my recurring dreams aren't "scary" but are vexing. I'm not sure how common recurring dreams are for other people but for me they happen every few weeks.
Of course, I've read before where scientists believe that dreaming is a natural part of the brain's rest cycle and that we likely dream every night despite not remembering most of them. I'm also familiar with the theory that dreams only last a few seconds in real time even though it may seem like several minutes when experiencing them. Regardless of how many times a night I may dream, how long the dreams last, or anything else, the fact that I can remember having the same dream or same theme of dream over and over again is just odd.
As a child, I grew up in the 80s watching horror movies. In fact, horror movies were about the only movies my brother wanted to rent for us to watch at home and when you're the youngest, you go along with what the older, cooler sibling wants. This meant that during my formative years I was consuming the images and sounds of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Halloween, Phantasm, Chucky, and any other slasher flick that hit VHS that we could get our hands on.
Growing up watching those gory murder movies you might think that I had a lot of nightmares as a 7 or 8 year old about being chased by a machete wielding killer but you'd be wrong. Those movies never gave me nightmares. Instead, it was more of the supernatural movies that messed with my head. Movies like Exorcist, Poltergeist, and things like that creeped me out the most but still didn't really trigger nightmares for me.
As a child, my recurring dream usually had to do with my either being at or coming home from my friend Bryan's house just down the road from my own. Either I would start at Bryan's house on the way home down our road or I would start already on the road headed home. At some point as I approached my house, a demonic growl followed by the sight of fiery red eyes would be detected from a nearby pasture. I would scurry home with the unseen beast in pursuit. Arriving home before I could be caught by the foul monster, I would scamper into my bedroom where I cowered under my sheets until the inevitable happened. The beast would always smash through my window, jumping directly towards me as if I knew where I was inside the house.
I would always wake up before anything else happened. I never saw the beast's face or fell victim to what I imagine would have been powerful jaws lined with razor-sharp teeth. Instead, I would open my eyes in my own bed safe and sound before slowly drifting back off to sleep to wonder when the beast would return to my dreams again next. I say this dream was something akin to a nightmare because there was a sense of terror and urgency associated with my escape from the unseen monster following me but because nothing ever happened aside from me waking up right before the moment of impact, I never felt frightened in the aftermath. The dream was scary when it was occurring but once it was done it was nothing but a repeat of a previous dream, deju vu if you will.
Now as an adult, my dreams have changed slightly. I don't have the same recurring dream that I did as a kid. Gone are the repetitive sequences of being chased by an unseen demon. These days those scenes have been replaced by one of frustration and mechanical faults.
The scenes always change. I might be in a shopping mall parking lot, a parking lot for a fictional work location, or just at home but it always involves me trying to reverse a car out of its parking spot and driving away. It sounds silly and simple but I wake up annoyed every time.
And I'm annoyed because every dream shares the same common thread. Regardless of whether it is a mundane dream or even a creepy dream, the car always suffers the same faults. It is hard to crank. The brakes don't work and its nearly impossible to stop the car once it starts reversing. Once I've got the car to stop going backwards and have it in drive, the car doesn't want to accelerate so I'm forced to slowly drive away from what is considered to be an embarrassing situation either because of the number of onlookers or passengers who watched me struggle with my car.
The most recent of these dreams was akin to a nightmare on top of everything else.
I had gone to work at a factory (that I have never seen or worked at) and at quitting time I had agreed to give a female co-worker a ride home. I never saw in the dream and never remember saying/hearing her name...I just know there was a female in the car with me. I chatted with fellow co-workers as we made our way out of the building and through the parking lot only to find my car was parked in an adjacent lot next door to the factory's parking lot.
As I passed through the gate that divided the parking areas, an immediate and noticeable shift in the environment came about. The parking lot for the factory was well-lit while the parking lot where my car sat in was dark and foreboding. I even made a comment in my dream about the change in tone and the fact that something evil had to be lurking nearby. However, the knowledge of what was to come did not prevent me from getting into my car. I made no attempt to flee, to hide, or even do basic searches of the area because I already knew that whatever was there for me would only reveal itself once I was in my car.
I took my place in the driver's seat and as I reached for the key to crank the engine I looked out through the windshield to see a thin, creepy man with a sinister smile staring back at me. He hadn't been there just seconds before as I approached my car or entered my car but had simply appeared there once I had sat behind the steering wheel, revealing himself as I had anticipated.
it was at this point that I became fully aware of my passenger as the devilish appearing man snarled something about taking "her" and that there was nothing I could do to stop him. Naturally, I was less than inclined to go along with the murderous vibes the stranger was giving off and I put a plan into action to get away from him while keeping my unnamed and unseen female companion safe.
And cue the car troubles.
The car was slow to start. I twisted the key multiple times listening as the engine sputtered and struggled to start before finally sparking to life. The devilish figured watched menacingly while I frantically worked to start the car's motor and only advanced toward the car once the engine had come alive.
I jammed the transmission into reverse milliseconds before I planted my foot to the floor atop the car's accelerator. And in typical dream fashion for me, the car began to slowly roll backwards despite my attempt to give it full throttle.
"Not now!" I screamed in my dream, recognizing in the dream my recurring mechanical issues from previous dreams.
As the car began to roll away from the curb, the fiendish individual leaped onto the car's hood, his fingers gripped tightly to the narrow opening between the hood and the car's frame. He began snarling and yelling at me about how he was going to kill me and take my passenger. I felt he was some type of vampire but don't remember seeing any fangs or other vampiric qualities, just the sensation his presence gave me.
After what seemed like several seconds, the car had started backing up at full speed through the parking lot but I recognized the need to drive forward rather than to continue moving backwards. I took my foot off the gas and stomped on the brake pedal. Nothing happened. The car was no longer accelerating but it wasn't slowing either. I pumped the brake pedal furiously but futility. Only after pulling the car's emergency brake did the car begin to slow, something that rarely works in other instances of this dream though.
Eventually, the car slowed enough that I was able to mash the clutch and jam the gear shift into 1st gear. Right foot back hard on the gas and my left foot dumped the clutch in a desperate attempt to zoom away from the situation. Sadly, when I dumped the clutch the RPMs dropped and the car only managed a weak lurch forward. The car began slowly moving toward the parking lot's exit but the car behaved as if I had put it in 3rd or 5th gear instead of 1st. I checked the shifter and it was in 1st gear but the car wasn't building RPMs or accelerating as it should have.
Again in what seemed like several seconds in the dream, the car slowly built speed until it began moving like it should. I began slamming the shifter into different gears as the car gained speed and momentum. The foul, evil "man" on the hood continued shouting his threats as he struggled to maintain his grip under the growing force of gravity being applied to him as the car continued to speed up.
Just as we approached the parking lot's exit, the demon's grip gave way. His body slid up the windshield before disappearing over the top edge. He could be heard scrambling about on the car's roof trying to find a new place to grab hold. Luckily, there was a low hanging tree branch near the gate that marked the exit. A quick jerk of the steering wheel sent the car careening just under the branch before being pulled back into control and pointed at the nearby exit. We could hear a loud thud from inside the vehicle before watching as the evil entity rolled off the top of the car and onto the ground behind us. I watched in the rear view mirror to ensure that the man-shaped monster remained behind us as I steered the car through the lot's exit and out onto the public streets that we hoped led to safety.
And then I woke up. I don't know if we made it my passenger's house safely. I don't know if I made it home without incident. I have no clue what happened next. The whole dream revolved around my car not working right when I needed it to and then once I was able to drive it correctly everything faded away and the dream ended. It was only a dream about my struggles with the car and nothing else. And its the same for the other occurrences of this dream. The dream always starts with me getting into my car and always ends with me driving away but only after I struggled to start the car, to stop the car after reversing, and/or to accelerate away once the car is in drive. Everything else seems to be completely random between instances and totally inconsequential to the outcome.
I'm not a dream expert. I have no clue what recurring dreams mean at any level much less what the meanings are of either of these dreams. I can only assume that my more recent dream is somehow connected to my own levels of anxiety and my frustration at not being able to control things that I think I should normally be able to control??? Either way, I find it interesting that I seem to commonly have the same dream, even if the details of my adult dream aren't the same every time like my childhood recurring dream was. I'm not sure how common this is for others but for me, I have this themed dream every couple of months that I can remember. Science tells us that we all dream several dreams most nights only that we rarely remember them so there's a good chance I might be having this dream nightly and only realize it every few weeks....
How about you? Any dreams or themes that seem to recur frequently?