I dream I wake up and go to my back door. It smells fresh and wonderful outside. I look to my neighbor’s yard and the shrubbery is completely cut down. I can see his house and everything completely. That dream ends and I’m walking on a sandy beach. It also smells wonderful. I feel calm and at peace. I see a conch shell. I pick it up and turn it over. I can see into it like a movie camera. I see my ex-husband. He is doing things I never imagined him doing: drinking heavily, and drugs, and lots of other women. It’s like I’m seeing someone I never knew at all.
I come from a Christian background, and I divorced 1-1/2 years ago because my husband was using drugs, was abusive, and was running around on me. I found out about all this suddenly. I gave him a choice, and he chose other women and drugs.
I have two children — one is handicapped. I recently dated a neighbor briefly. We met because our yards join and his shrubs had overgrown into my yard. We spent a day trimming them so my son could swing without them hitting him in the face. They are still overgrown, but trimmed. He is a fine Christian. He told me he felt I still had unforgiveness in my heart against my ex. I really don’t think so. He may be moving because of a job transfer, so we have not pursued our friendship. I don’t know what the part of my dream about my neighbor means. I think the part about my ex is that I don’t think I ever knew him.
–michelle, age 30, female, divorced, englewood, OH
After living “in the dark” for so long (not knowing your ex’s “other side”), it must feel good to step outside and get some fresh air.
I don’t think it’s too hard to understand the meaning of this dream. When you look out your back door and view your neighbor’s house, the air smells fresh and wonderful. You also notice his yard. In the dream, the shrubs you trimmed together recently are entirely cut back. This allows you to “see his house and everything completely.” The metaphor employed by your dream relates to vision. You are able to “see” this fine man — represented by his house and yard — plainly. Nothing is hidden or obscured from view.
As if to compare and contrast these two men in your life, you next find yourself walking along a sandy beach. Just as a conch shell in real life allows us to “eavesdrop” on a distant ocean, your dream conch shell opens a window for you to view your husband’s past (and present) activities. drinking, drugs, and women.
Beaches in dreams are symbolic locations of resolution, because they are areas where conscious (land) and unconscious (water) forces meet. Your neighbor has suggested you still hold feelings of unforgiveness for your ex in your heart, but your dream suggests otherwise. From this location of resolution, you are able to view your ex plainly now, with a sense of peace and perspective.
Christian wisdom teaches us to “hate” sin, but to always forgive the sinner. After a disappointing first marriage, it is clear you feel relieved to be free of this relationship, and have renewed appreciation of the values you need and desire in a future partner.
Charles McPhee is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a master’s in communication management from the University of Southern California. He received his board certification to perform polysomnographic testing for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders in 1992. McPhee is the former Director of the Sleep Apnea Patient Treatment Program at the Sleep Disorders Center of Santa Barbara, California; the former coordinator of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA , and the former coordinator of the sleep research laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. Please visit his website for further information.