Posted in Dreams and Nightmares

Telling the Difference between Dreams and Reality

This is a problem with growing older. You start to wonder if something really happened or if you just dreamed about it.

I have a friend called Honey. She went to America, started a family, and we lost touch. It got so that I didn’t know where to look to find her last known address there. I sometimes thought about firing off a postcard to see if it would find her, but the problem lay in finding an address to fire it to.

The years crawled by. Christmases came and went, and no cards crossed the ocean.

Sometimes I realized that the silence was so complete that absolutely anything could have happened in her life and I wouldn’t know. She could be divorced, mother of 12 children, a successful bestselling author, a multimillionaire with her own island… or living back here in Britain.

Life continued to pass in a fog, and then one day I thought to myself “that’s funny, didn’t Honey send me an email? I’m so sure I saw an email, and I was going to read it, but somehow here I sit, and there’s no email. What happened?”

I realized I must have dreamed it… sometimes I dream about her. Sometimes we’re getting on and happy to be with each other, sometimes we’re falling out and angry. Sometimes she’s calm and cheerful but walking away, not listening. So it made sense that I would dream she had got back in touch. Obviously I woke up just as I was about to read her message, because I didn’t remember reading it.

A few days later (three days ago) I fired up my email and found a message from my sister, saying Honey had been in touch, wanting her email address given to me so that I would write.

“Whoa,” said Mum…. “that’s spooky!”

The worst of it is, I’m not quite sure what actually happened. Was it a dream after all? Had I seen a message from her waiting for me? And then, for whatever reason, it was skipped over and forgotten about. That doesn’t make sense… if I was scanning a folder of emails, even my Trash Folder, and saw a message potentially as important as that, I would read it immediately. If it had been from Honey, I would have remembered about it, and answered her (probably immediately). If it had been a spam message from a spammer using the same name, I would have checked it first (just in case) and then dismissed it so completely from my mind that I would have difficulty recalling.

Or it might have been a dream. That’s exactly the kind of thing I dream about. It’s kind of spooky either way.

PS: Honey tells me that a few nights ago she was dreaming about Marks and Spencers prawn sandwiches, something she’s not had for years. That made me smile, because a few days ago we were getting sandwiches for lunch from Marks and Spencers, and I stood and stared at the prawn ones wondering if I should get those… but in the end I went for the chicken and sweetcorn. They were very good; some sandwiches taste like cardboard, but not these. While I was eating them, I had yearnings of my own… I miss the beef and horseradish sandwiches Marks and Spencers used to sell when they started.  I liked them so much that I chose them every time, and now they’re gone. We used to eat them in Princes Street Gardens.

All the time that we were not keeping up with each other’s news, I wonder how many thoughts like this we had in common without even realizing.



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

19 thoughts on “Telling the Difference between Dreams and Reality

  1. I find this post absolutely fascinating for several reasons. Reserchers surmise that in Prelapsarian (before language) times, our anscestors might not have been able to differentiate between dreaming states and waking ones. And we still own that brain stem formation and Jung’s theories about the Collective Unconscious.

    Then there are those paranormal aspects of foretelling and prophetic dreams, in which your experience could be seen as fairly common to those who pay attention or keep track of such things.

    Personally, I think of it as energy flow. We share energies with those we are close to and carry that with us. Dreams, memories, and the like, can re-trigger those energies and they will seek to re-connect with the source. I’ve had too many similar experiences, and I often call them synchronicity, because diverse elements come together and create something new, something that is just beyond the reach of understanding, but often leads to a moment of enlightenment, or contact.

    Really good post, thank you,


  2. Now that’s a word I’ve not seen before — prelapsarian! Something has generally either happened or not happened, so I’m not sure if the theory is true… but when we’re on autopilot about a lot of the small mundane stuff (like checking through the spam folder) then it can be harder to remember things.

    Especially me, who’s always in a fog. 🙂 LOL

  3. The word itself means “before the fall,” and was used to speak of pre-history and the time before the fall in the garden of Eden. However, scientists use it to refer to that time before humans had acquired speech, thus history, oral or written.

    The first time I heard it was when a friend (PHD in Chemistry and writes poetry) used it to explain what he had found in one of my poems. I was astounded and completely ignorant of the word. He explained when I asked and I loved what he said about the poem, so it sticks in my mind and I use it, often forgetting that others, like me, have no scientific background. Personally, I just like the word, lol.

    I wasn’t trying to explain what hapened to you, just what went through my mind while reading your post and why it fascinated me so much. And still does, for that matter. The ‘fog’ I am usually in, is often occasioned by just such random connections, sorry.


  4. When I get time I’ll have to look that word up myself. It’s a great one to startle folk with. 🙂

    Sometimes I think the ‘fog’ is quite protective… just to focus on two or three things you have to do, and put everything else on the back burner for a while. When you remember everything that has to be done all at once, it can be quite disheartening.

  5. Hope you do that, and yes, it does startle, lol. My motto, which through the years has gotten much more streamlined, is: “One day, one moment, one thing at a time.” Sometimes I simpy chant it so that I don’t have to be overwhelmed or disheartened.


  6. I hope I’m not dreaming leaving this comment, Diddums! A very happy Christmas to you!

    The most confusing thing that happens to me is the occasional deja vu (stop me if I’ve mentioned this already).

  7. Elizabeth: one step at a time is good advice. 🙂 I found that mentality helps with things like agoraphobia as well… probably a clue as to how it starts in people.

    Pacian: Happy Christmas to you too! (Raps comment with knuckles to make sure it’s real and not a dream). Hope your cold has gone now; big sister seems better.

  8. I hope you had a very “Merry” Christmas, Diddums and that 2009 will bring every wish come true. I enjoy so much reading your blog and the little differences between some of your wording and ours (US).
    As a Christmas present for all my online friends I put up a special page of links to free ebooks, self improvement stuff, etc. Please accept these as my gifts to you for the gift you have given me. (And you don’t have to sign in. LOL. Read your petpeeve)

  9. Thanks Ladybeams, I hope you had a great Christmas too! Sometimes I worry that if my use of words is very different, it will mean something different to other cultures, LOL. I suppose that’s the problem everyone has.

    Thanks for the gift, what a creative idea! I will check it out. 🙂

  10. Dreams like that are spooky. I’ve had a couple. I once dreamed of a friend trying to call me at an airport and shortly after I woke up she did call me – she wasn’t at an airport but she was travelling at the time. When I have dreams like that which turn out to be spookily close to reality it makes me think of the music to the Twilight Zone – an old TV series about bizarre stories.

  11. It makes me think about cats, which are supposed to know when their owners are coming home, even if there was no way they could have known. I wonder though, if they know human languages better than anyone could imagine, and eavesdrop on phonecalls. Or maybe they just dream it during one of their catnaps. 🙂

  12. I don”t know your guys experience sounds different. My son in Law recentley started having dreams, that they have a hard time waking him up from. Like this morning he swore that my daughter cheated. That he worked at the Hornets Game in New Orlearns where he lives and he does work there, but not last night, and he was told that she cheated. He almost became violent. His mother and grandmother had to pursuate him that he was at home. The night before he dreamed he was arrested and someone stole his fingerprints and he was charged with rape. It took them over one hour to get him convinced it was just a dream, so thats why I looked this up. But you guys seem pretty cool stuff I had as a teenager dreaming I did something and not being sure as matter of fact still do 🙂 Please tell me have you heard of this? Thanks concerned Mom ( Ilona)

    1. Hi ilona, sorry for the delay answering; I was away from the computer a lot this Christmas. I haven’t heard of it before, but sometimes I have said ‘such-and-such happened when I was a child,’ and a family member has said ‘that never happened; it must have been a dream.’ But the ‘memories’ seem so real to me that I’m not sure. People’s memories are so selective and unreliable; maybe these things did happen and the family forgot. Or perhaps they really were dreams!

      I don’t know about very recent dreams and experiences, though. Sometimes a dream can really cling on. I noticed there are a lot of searches for ‘confusing dreams and reality’, so presumably it’s reasonably common. Anyway, I wish you and your family the best for the new year!

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