Empty Rooms and Kitchen Cabinets

I have always remembered my dreams.  They are vivid and often leave me feeling exhausted when I wake up, like I’ve been living them out in real life rather than in my mind.  I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep in years.  The only times I remember waking up refreshed are after taking redeye airplane flights and then passing out from exhaustion.

I could go into all the reasons for my lack of sound sleep, but I know no one really cares.  I also know that most people don’t care about other people’s dreams, but please indulge me for a moment.  Or feel free to skip this post, whatever is easiest.  

Lately, I have been dreaming about houses.  I’ve noticed that this happens in times of great transition for me.  The houses are usually big and empty, gutted even.  There is often a lot of concrete and moments where I’m running through each room looking for something or someone who never materializes.

In these dreams, I am always afraid.

I started having them a few years after graduating from college.  I was extremely depressed and found myself floundering in all areas.  I have always suffered from anxiety to some extent my whole life, but the depression was new.  Or maybe it wasn’t if I’m being honest, but it was the first time I acknowledged it and the first time I sought professional help.  I remember walking into my therapist’s office on Central Park West during my lunch break from a job that didn’t quite fit, sitting down in an old arm chair, and bawling my eyes out before I could even really explain why I was there.  I cried most of that session, but for the first time in a long time I felt alive rather than going through the motions and pretending I was fine.

Therapy taught me a lot that I won’t go into here.  We did, however, spend some time interpreting my crazy dreams.  My doctor explained that a house is often a symbol for the Self.  The abandoned houses that seemed to haunt me represented emotional neglect and problems I had gotten used to.  They were a sign for a desire for self-improvement.  I know dream interpretation may not be for everyone, but when I heard this something clicked for me.  The dreams were my mind’s way of letting me know that I was in desperate need for some self-improvement.  It was a long journey, but once I made mental health a priority the house dreams stopped.

But now they’re back.  I keep dreaming of this one kitchen in a house that’s for sale.  The cabinets are covered over with layers of contact paper, like the kind that lines drawers.  I know someone is trying to hide something by covering over the old wood and it makes me nervous.  There is something very ominous about this place.

I’m pretty sure that this is my brain’s way of telling me that I’m trying to hide things from myself again: that I’m not dealing with shit very well and that I need to take a good stab at self-reflection.  And I know from experience that self-reflection is hard.  

So here’s the truth: as much as I want to think that I’m coping well with life in Canada, I’m not.  I fill my days with “stuff”: cooking, reading, writing, walking the dog.  But the reality is all of that is just a mask.  During the week when J is at work and I am alone I realize what I have become and it terrifies me.  I am a housewife for the moment and while intellectually I know there is nothing wrong with that, this role feels wrong to me.  Inside I am frustrated and angry that we had to leave everything behind to come here.  

I am not in the mood to put a positive spin on this.  This is how I feel today, in this moment, and I think failing to acknowledge that completely hasn’t been healthy.  Tomorrow will probably be better, but tonight I am going to go eat a Magnum bar, watch bad TV, and wallow.

Tomorrow will probably be better.  Most tomorrows usually are.


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