Interpretation of Dreams: Death Anxiety or Jumping Through Hoops
Me: I had a dream. I was in the building of my junior school. And I knew I wasn't allowed there, but I needed to go to the wash-room. I pleaded a peon, who took me to one, and told me to be quick. After being done, I was trying to get my trouser up, button up and belt up, but for some unknown reason, it was taking an awful amount of time and I was fumbling and trying to hurry, but time was running out, and I started to panic. That's what I remember of it. Yalom would interpret it as classic death anxiety. That I am fumbling and trying to hurry to live my life as my time runs out. I have had dreams of similar theme before. Trying to complete an unending exam as time runs out. Trying to get ready for engagement/wedding as time runs out. But on a conscious level, I feel no death anxiety. My defence mechanisms keep me very shielded, I suppose. Yet apparently it is there beneath the surface.
Aati: Hmm. Sounds very plausible, but I have a question. Would you interpret it as death anxiety too, if you'd never been familiar with Yalom? I'm asking because you may personally have interpretations lying deeper that differ from Yalom's -- your choice of words seemed to accept this while simultaneously alienating yourself from it. And secondly, because there is another similar interpretation that is rather less symbolic and which correlates with a feeling you have consciously expressed to me before.
Me: I can't think of it at the moment.
Aati: Alright. Well, have you heard the phrase 'jump through hoops'? It came to my mind here in that in this situation and possibly the other ones you mentioned, your anxiety seems to be caused by a schedule you seem to be falling behind in. This is very similar to death anxiety, except you've said before your life feels stuck. People have give you time slots, things you 'need' to do, goals you need to achieve before that time is up -- yet another similarity with death anxiety -- but it's not a race against your mortality. It is a race to jump through those hoops, to come up to your own expectations and theirs, to obey and please. It's a feeling you have articulated yourself, which is probably the biggest reason why it may not be death anxiety.
Me: Fits with my life, definitely. It's possible that both interpretations may be simultaneously correct.
Aati: True, yes, that makes sense too.
Me: One thing to note is that I was in junior school, and I was not allowed there. Must have some significance.
Aati: It must, yes. But what? Hmmm. Hurried maturity?
Me: It may be about the irreversible passage of time and my reluctance to accept the consuming responsibilities of being 'the man of the house'.
Aati: True. You're no longer allowed back in that state.