A 57 year old woman had the following dream:
“My boyfriend’s soon to be ex-wife was running after me with a machine gun. I could hear the bullets whizzing by me and I was so scared. I thought to myself ‘I have to zig zag’, as if I’d heard somewhere that this was a good way to avoid getting shot.
“Then I ran into a hospital to get to safety. I was trying to catch my breath but I knew she was still after me. I went into a patient’s private room, and I got into bed with the patient. I said to him ‘Protect me, protect me, somebody is trying to kill me!’ I was fraught with fear and emotion and I pulled the covers over my head. I could tell he was a sick man, but I kept thinking ‘I’m going to be protected here.’
“After I laid there for a while I felt safe, so I finally got out of the bed and I noticed some purple nail polish. I said to the man ‘So what is your name?’ and he answered in a very deep, masculine voice ‘Jacqueline.’ I asked ‘Oh, so do people just call you Jack?’ I was challenging him as I could see he was a man. He said ‘No, it’s Jacqueline.’
“It was then I realized he was gay and wanted to be feminine, so I decided that rather than challenge him I would honor him. I said ‘Let’s paint our nails.’ We started painting our nails and doing girly things. Then I felt safe and was able to leave the hospital.”
This dream starts with the dreamer being chased, which is one of the most common dream themes of all times. The perpetrator usually represents something or someone that feels like a threat to us. Whether or not they actually pose a threat, it is the feeling that matters. In this dreamer’s waking life, she did not feel physically threatened by her partner’s soon to be ex-wife, but the fact that they were not yet fully divorced felt like an emotional threat to the dreamer’s own relationship with this man.
Stress triggers the fight or flight response, which then gets spun into a dream story. In this case rather than fight, the dreamer took flight by running in a zig zag pattern and dodging bullets. Dreams also love puns and plays on words, and every time the topic of the divorce came up, this dreamer felt like she was dodging bullets as it was a sensitive topic with her partner.
In the dream, she took shelter in a hospital and climbed into bed with a patient. This turned out to be symbolic of her ability to find sanctuary from the perceived threat by retreating into a healing place within herself. This is a very good sign of self-care. The sick man represented an aspect of herself that needed healing, but that also could facilitate healing by providing a safe space.
When she asked the man his name and he told her it was Jacqueline, she wanted to challenge him by drawing attention to the fact that he was really a man, not a woman as the name implied. This is reflected in her response of, “Oh, so do people just call you Jack?” When he asserted that his name was, in fact, Jaqueline instead of Jack, she realized he was gay and had a change of heart. Instead of fighting him regarding his orientation she decided to not only embrace it, but support it, by painting their nails together and “doing girly things.”
The dreamer shared that she had been doing personal growth work around becoming less masculine in her primary relationship with a man, and allowing herself to be more feminine. She had traditionally asserted a lot of masculine energy in a way that had created imbalance in relationships for her. She wanted to try a new way of being by embracing more of her feminine energy. The dream so poignantly put this into visual and verbal representation in the character of Jacqueline, the feminine man. Just like in the dream, at first the dreamer had a hard time accepting that her familiar masculine characteristics could become more feminine. However, she eventually not only connected with, but embraced, her own feminine energy in a loving and supportive way, just like in the dream.
The dreamer had some waking life “aha” moments after we worked with the dream. She said that shortly after the dream she went to a store to browse around and came across some nail polish. She found a bottle she liked in a purple color. Only after she picked it out and decided to purchase it did she remember the purple nail polish from the dream. Though she did not consciously pick out the polish based on the dream, it was at this point that she realized the connection. That afternoon she was meeting with a friend for his birthday, and this friend happened to be a gay man. She had learned a new technique for applying nail polish that she wanted to share with him, so she decided to give him the polish as a present and show him the new technique. When they got together she gave him the polish and painted his nails for him.
The dreamer was not consciously paying tribute to the dream by doing this, in fact she said that at the time she wasn’t really thinking about it at all. Only later when we worked with the dream did it click as she put all the pieces together. She said she felt very comforted by the fact that her waking life was mirroring her dream life (or vice versa). She described the feeling it created as giving her a sense of connection to another world.
Was the dream a premonition, or did the dreamer subconsciously re-enact some of the dream? That is subject to speculation, but either way this connection between worlds provided the dreamer with a great sense of comfort, both by bridging her waking and dreaming life and by the meaning the dream provided her with. Now purple nail polish has become a symbol and reminder for her to embrace her feminine energy, and allow Jacqueline to be her true self.