Recurring Dreams and Repressed Trauma

Question from a reader:

“I’ve always had night terrors, and I frequently encounter spirits (it runs in the family). The very first dream I can ever remember having (and I almost always remember my dreams) is a recurring dream I still have to this day. I’ll have it anywhere between once and dozens of times a year. It’s very dark, and the beginning is in 8-bit (I was a 90’s kid who loved my Gameboy Color). I’m running through a vertical maze made of dark grey sand and boulders, and the maze is quickly flooding. While the rushing water chases me, I come across my kinder garden teacher, who can breathe underwater. She warns me to run. I do, and eventually the water is up to my calves, then my waist, then my chin. The dream gets hazy for a moment and there is a sort of scene change. I’m now in my childhood bedroom, it’s storming outside, and there is a man’s face in my window. He’s old, but not elderly, and he’s smiling cruelly with bulging eyes. I’m bent over a chair and in pain. I’m not alone in the room. There is a man and I don’t know who he is. I always wake up then. I know the dream is hinting toward some kind of molestation which I can’t really remember. I get flashes sometimes and I know that I suffer from PTSD because of the experience. I’ve read many times that water in dreams symbolizes consciousness. I know this dream is telling me that there are very dark things from my childhood that I can’t remember, but that actively haunt me. But I don’t know if this dream is a warning to keep it suppressed, a window into my memories, or… what. Any ideas?”

I‘ve written about the significance of recurring dreams before and how they are typically attempting to show you something that you’ve been repressing. You can use Jungian dream symbolism to get quite a bit of meaning out of your dream. To address your question immediately – is the dream a warning to keep it suppressed? No. Mostly because suppressing things is counter-productive. The mind suppresses traumatic memories as a way of temporarily shielding us, but long term suppression can lead to all kinds of issues both emotional and physical, hence your PTSD.

Even your dream itself is telling you that this is something you need to explore. The reason we have reoccurring dreams is because there are things in our subconscious that we aren’t acknowledging:

To see or dream that you are in a labyrinth indicates your desires to get to the center of some issue or problem. Alternatively, it suggests that you are feeling trapped in some situation. You feel lost and that there is no way out.

To dream that you are in a maze denotes that you need to deal with a waking task on a more direct level. You are making the situation harder than it really is.

There are a few very obvious clues which, as you already know, suggest it’s related to childhood (the Gameboy association with 8bit and the kindergarten teacher).

I think it’s interesting that you say the maze is vertical – like climbing out of a well or a cave? Basements, wells, caves, and other things that are “below” represent the subconscious mind. You’re running away from whatever is in there.  And the thing that is chasing you is water.

Water doesn’t just represent consciousness, it represents emotions and the state of the water can give you a good indication of what kind. For example, a clear, peaceful stream represents a clear, peaceful mind. A tidal wave represents overwhelming emotions. Muddy water can represent icky emotions, a violent, tossing ocean can represent rage, etc.

To see your teacher (past or present) in your dream suggests that you are seeking some advice, guidance, or knowledge. You are heading into a new path in life and are ready to learn by example or from a past experience. Consider your own personal experiences with that particular teacher. What subject was taught?

“seeking some advice, guidance, or knowledge”

The teacher in question was able to breathe under water – water which represents your repressed emotions. This tells me the teacher represents the ability to become fully immersed in those emotions and not only survive, but learn from them, understand them and move forward instead of running from them.

When you go under water, more or less, is when you start to get bits and pieces of the memories, so those are obviously what’s being repressed.

You could consider seeking out a therapist who specializes in recovered memory therapy. Someone with experience in hypnotic regression may be helpful. They should also absolutely be trauma-informed, and trained in treating emotional trauma and PTSD. There’s tons of trauma release techniques that a lot of therapists are starting to use with their clients now.

I don’t think I have to tell you that it won’t be easy, but if you find someone that you like and you trust, they can absolutely help you through it.

You can also compliment therapy with some serious energy healing and chakra cleansing and start learning some meditation techniques to help you with it on a daily basis and it will help ease the process quite a bit. Just start looking for healing techniques that are specifically for trauma release, but above all–make sure you’re working with a trauma-informed practitioner.



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1 Comment

  1. Fellow reader, I found a really great book that may be of interest to you: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. It’s an amazing book, although it can be a bit dense through the science/brain chapters. I hope you find clarity and peace soon.

    Book Link:


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