The other day I was tagged in the post below by Sarah Silverman, where she revealed her most recent Google searching history that including:
The truth is, dreams about peeing, pooping, or trying to are some of the most common dreams I’ve come across—I can’t even remember all the pee or poop dreams I’ve worked with clients over the years. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve had one. It’s not that surprising—all humans do this every day, multiple times a day.
But what does this act represent to us? And why are there often negative emotions around an experience that is so natural and healthy?
As always, there are no absolutes and no definitive answers when it comes to deciphering symbols or actions within dreams. What’s most important is feeling into what is most deeply true for you. Here, I just want to offer you a couple of avenues of exploration if you find yourself having dreams about using the bathroom, and invite you to use it as a jumping off point for your own inquiry.
One of the most common scenarios with peeing dreams is having to use the restroom and not being able to find one and/or using the restroom in an unusual, normally public place. Embarrassment, shame, and anxiety often come up here. Perhaps you ended up peeing somewhere you would never pee in real life, making you feel exposed and vulnerable.
A good place to start as you feel into the visceral experience of the dream is to ask yourself, are the feelings in the dream familiar? And not just the feeling of needing to pee and having nowhere to do it—but on a more symbolic level, when do you feel this way—anxious, humiliated, desperate for some privacy?
On a societal level, the cloud of shame that hovers over going to the bathroom is everywhere. Ever seen a commercial for “poo-pourri”? Women especially are socialized to believe their completely natural behaviors of farting, pooping, burping, and peeing are gross and disgusting—things we have to hide from others. It makes a certain kind of sense—pee and poop are waste, we are supposed to dispose of it. But that doesn’t mean we are bad just because we have it at all.
The metaphor is common enough—our ‘shit’…being in ‘our shit’…dealing with other peoples ‘shit’…meaning the places where we get caught in our own illusions, act out, feel heavy or weighed or burdened, stuck or confused or lost or in despair. It’s not to say that we should embrace these states—but when we are too anxious or embarrassed to even allow for this shit to exist, how can we ever release it? The shit is not the problem—it’s a natural part of the cycle—and our bodies naturally dispose of it. It’s the shame we attach to it that makes it so hard for us to feel like we have the space we need to let it go.
Right alongside having to pee at all, almost all humans have had another common experience–potty-training. This presents the issues of control that are also often present in bathroom dreams—both our inner sense of control over our own bodies as well as the ways we are asked by society to control and/or manage the needs of our bodies.
Unregulated human waste can make our communities sick–this training is necessary on some level. At the same time, this training is one of our first introductions to a conflict we will encounter in different ways our entire lives—the needs of our individual bodies vs. the needs of our communities/family systems. In order to be a part of society, you have to learn how to control your body’s impulses in certain ways. This can never be avoided, but your bathroom dreams could be pointing to how this control is out of balance. Are you suppressing your own needs for the sake of the group or ‘saving face’? Are you too focused on what other people might need, making you feel desperate for some private space to just let go? Remember, everybody poops, and ultimately, it can only be controlled for so long. We need to have discernment about when it’s appropriate to compromise our deep internal needs to serve the greater whole and when we must surrender to our bodily needs and release our control. Are there ways you seek to control how you are perceived by others? Do you construct an image of your life that is designed to hide your shit? How do you feel when that shit comes up? Is it similar to how you feel in this bathroom dream?
As most people have experienced, releasing the body’s waste is a life-affirming action that often, when we are in the privacy of our own toilets, can feel really good. But when the threat of being witnessed or seen in this release comes into play, what feels good and is natural can start to feel really difficult. That’s because of the vulnerability and loss of control that is required for us to allow it. When our bodies are screaming at us that we need to go to the bathroom–when the amount of shit inside of us has reached a level where our bodies are demanding we let go of it–we are forced to face that if we are going to get rid of it. And that means we are going to have to give up control. We are going to have alter the story we have about ourselves, and release the ways we are convinced that our shit doesn’t stink.
Another aspect of control that can be present in bathroom dreams is the lack of control we have over our very own bodies. Our bladders seem hell bent on reminding us of this every single day—no matter what’s going on, if we have to pee, we have to pee. Our bodies have their own marching orders. This is another area of inquiry that can be helpful around bathroom dreams. What is your relationship to your body like? Do you find yourself working hard to control the way it is perceived or what its needs are, or are you open and receptive to the messages it gives you about its needs? Does this relationship change when you are around others—if so, how and with who?
Not to mention, I know there are plenty of folks out there that have had bathroom dreams where the feeling of release is heavenly! Or maybe you found yourself going to the bathroom in public without any concern, and felt empowered. And to that I say bravo!! I think this world needs more people out there just letting their shit go!
Because after all, it’s just crap. There is going to be more where that came from. And there’s one more obvious thing about bathroom dreams: they are often really really funny, kinda like Sarah Silverman herself.
Do any of the lenses I suggested resonate for you and your bathroom dream? What did I miss here? What have you learned from your dreams about needing to go to the bathroom? Can you be brave share the craziest one you’ve ever had?? It would totally make my day I promise you!
Before we got engaged, I was pressuring Jordan to do it. I was 27, convinced that if marriage was not in our future, then there was no point in continuing. What I didn’t realize was what I really wanted to know. I still wasn’t sure whether he wanted to marry me or not. Once he proposed, and I realized his answer was yes, I was faced with a question I hadn’t really given much thought to—Do I want to get married?
I wasn’t questioning of our relationship–I knew I wanted to be with him for the foreseeable future. But it was that foreseeable part. What about all the unknowns? Was I really going to stand up in front of everyone I know and commit to another person for a lifetime, knowing how much I don’t know about what the future holds? Knowing how out of my control it all is? Knowing how bad the odds are that something like this could last? Knowing how much I have changed in the past seven years and how much Jordan has changed in that time as well? Isn’t it kind of disingenuous to make that kind of commitment?
It felt like it to me. After all, I don’t simply want to remain married to my husband for the rest of my life. I want to remain in love with him, I want our love to grow, and keep growing. I want us to have a healthy and dynamic sex life, I want us to have harmony and peace in our home, I want us both to be given the space and time we need to develop our passions and projects. I want it all, and I know how rare that is. And I know how much work it takes. Because I have been working on it with him for the past seven years.
Unlike a lot of my accomplishments, my relationship with my husband is something I can say easily I am very proud of. I was single for many years, convinced I would never find love. So I know how it can sting to hear someone speak about their great love life. But I am not proud because of fate. We have both worked incredibly hard over the past seven years to keep our love alive. A lot of sacrifices have been made on both sides, and we have both had to grow, heal, and transform in a myriad ways to keep our connection to each other.
But even though we have a great relationship, the idea of the marriage vows scared me. I think it might be because of the way we met. We started talking one day at a party and have been together ever since. It was easy to find things in common—we attended the same elementary, middle, and high school in New Orleans, where we still live together, with a community of people that are still among some of our closest and oldest friends. Since I had known who my husband was since I was 8 years old, I thought I knew him. We were always running in similar crowds but were never lovers or even really friends. If you had told me just 30 minutes before we started talking that I would end up marrying him, I don’t think I ever would have believed you. Even now we look at each other and sometimes get another wave of surprise. Like, wow! I can’t believe my person in life is you!
Remembering this, I felt discomfort making a vow like till death do us part—couldn’t the same shock happen the opposite way? Couldn’t I be just as blindsided one day by the reality that we shouldn’t be together any longer?
But the more I thought about it, the more my understanding grew. The answer to this question is yes, but that doesn’t mean a wedding shouldn’t happen. I have come to understand the ritual of marriage as just one among many human traditions where we attempt to create permanence where there is none, where we grasp at eternity even though our time is brief, and where we attempt to forge acts of infinite, unconditional love even though as humans we are so finite, so submerged in our individual conditions. The act of committing my whole self to someone else, to summoning all the devotion I can muster, to reaching deep into my reserves of compassion and patience and humility over and over to keep the fires of our love burning bright—these acts are sacred, because they are an attempt to transcend the mundane aspects of my humanity.
I quickly realized I wanted us to share in the writing of our own vows. We started with a brainstorm of words and values that we share and prioritize in ourselves and with each other—self-love, devotion to God, humility, humor, honesty, community, the land, and integrity. After that, I wrote a draft, and he edited it, as he often does with my writing, and we went back and forth a bit. I am so happy with the way they turned out and to share them with you now.
A week into married life, I realize how important it is to me to share these vows even more publically. I have committed myself to the ritual of maintaining and open, honest, unconditionally loving, sexually monogamous relationship with another human being yall! I been practicing the past seven years but now I feel the weight of the commitment more than ever. I want to share that commitment with all of you. I want accountability here. I want all of yall to know that I am going to do my absolute best.
Do you vow first and foremost to love yourself, to be kind and gentle with yourself, and devote yourself fully to your own personal divine connection? We chose this to be first because this has always been a firm touchstone in our relationship. Before we even present an issue or conflict to the other, we check-in with ourselves—is there a way we could love ourselves more here, be more gentle, and be in better relationship with our individual sense of the divine?
Do you vow to always turn towards your passion and follow it with hard work and dedication, and to support your partner in doing the same? Jordan and I are both self-employed, and very driven by our passions and this is something we also put at the forefront, because we know it’s vital to each other’s happiness.
Do you vow to be honest, especially when it is difficult, to be vulnerable, especially when you feel hurt, and to speak from your heart, even when your belly is full of fire? Communication, communication, and then, even when you don’t feel like it at all—a little more communication—honest, vulnerable, and from the heart.
Do you vow make time for one another, even when it may feel like there is none, to listen to the words of the other, reflect upon them, and make changes when they are needed? Creating time. See #2, workaholics. We both have a way of dissolving into our passions and missing times to connect. Being willing listen, to really hear, and ultimately to change patterns of behavior is vital.
Do you vow to play and to laugh, to enjoy the little things, to cherish each other, and to always say yes when asked for another embrace? Silliness and love go so well together. Like sprinkles and rainbows.
Do you vow to be slow to anger, quick to forgive, and eager to apologize? I feel like I am always learning when to retreat and re-center and when to assert boundaries.
Do you vow to put each other’s commitment to one another above all other things, to stand for each other in times of trouble, and to act from a place of trust even if it feels broken? Ultimately, if something is going to last, it means you have to persevere through times when it doesn’t feel good, or right, or like the other is fully there. Sometimes you have to be the anchor. Sometimes you have to be the force that lifts the weight from the bottom of the sea.
Do you vow to contemplate, regularly, what it means to love and what it would mean to love better, with greater integrity, with more compassion, with deeper trust, and with full dedication to God? For me, this vow and the one above work hand in hand. I discern whether to remain committed based on the answers I find contemplating these questions, and then re-commit with greater clarity.
And do you vow, above all else to love Jordan/Kezia, with all of your heart and your soul, with your hands and your feet, with your words and your deeds, sharing in the love that reverberates through each other and to all of those present today, devoted to one another and to the dream of a more loving, harmonious world? In summary, this is what we think it means to love—and we are going to do everything we can to do it.
I know a lot of people have a lot of different kinds of feelings, values, and philosophies that come up for them around the concept of marriage, or even long-term relationships/partnerships in general. So I just wanted to share a little about how I found meaning in the process. And now that I am married, I know that our journey is really just beginning. I would love to hear from yall what your struggles and triumphs have been.
What is real? What is an illusion? What is true in my thoughts? What is a lie? I’ve come to feel that these questions do not have logical and rational answers, but instead the answers are a choice we have to make. There’s no denying or avoiding this choice—denial and avoidance are simply various options.
Be brave enough to feel the urgency of this. In every moment, you are already making a choice, whether you are conscious of it or not. So what are you choosing? What reality are you living in? And why?
My choice is that the reality is love. What is real, is love. What is an illusion, is the absence of it. What is true, is that there is love. What is a lie, is that there is none.
And let me be clear—I am not talking about mamsy-pambsy feel good love like everything is all good so don’t worry about it. I’m talking about the stark, irrational, deeply honest love that is unconditional. That’s right, the un-conditional love, the love of the goddess, the love of the holy mother, the love of Jesus Christ our Savior, the love of the nameless one, the love of the holies of holies, that deep juicy rich transformative kind of love. This is the reality.
The love that requires me to drop my judgments and my opinions. The love that requires me to speak my truth, and assert my boundaries with passion and precision. The love that requires me to drop my projections onto others and accept myself fully.
The love that requires me to BE love rather than SEEK it. To speak love into being rather than bemoan its lack. The love that requires me to see my whole self, and reveal it to myself, so it can all be loved, for if any part of myself is withheld from my own consciousness, I am setting up a wall. I am forcing the love that is to be limited, conditioned upon my own hiding.
We are all narcissists, at times. A narcissist is anyone who believes that we should only love when there is merit. It is love withheld, love made conditional, it is the effort to control love. That we should love one another when they fulfill our ideas of what a lovable person should be. We begin this bargaining with ourselves. We try everything we can to keep ourselves from actually loving who and what we are. Instead we adopt long and complicated stories about what it would take to just love and accept ourselves. This is the emptiness that we all know too well, the loneliness even when we are never alone.
We must be brave enough to face what the alternative really means. Unconditional love. We’ve heard about it before but do we really have the strength to believe it?
That’s right, Un-conditional. We say that, but do we understand it? No conditions.
Meaning, I love you even though you are pedophile. No conditions.
I will love you even though you are a murderer.
I will love you even though you are a psychopath.
I will love you even though you are a rapist.
I will love you even though you have abused your own family members.
I will love you even though you have molested your own family members.
I will love you even though you have abandoned your children.
I will love you even though you have refused the love of your partner.
I will love you even though you have rejected your gifts.
I will love you even though you are a terrorist.
Can we do it? Can we fathom it? Can we be it? Is it possible that there is love for even these people—and if we can’t imagine it, then is there really love for any of us?
To love someone is not to accept their behavior, nor to trust them. To love is to believe that no matter what anyone has ever done, no matter how much damage they have caused, no matter how dark their road has been, there is a light that they can turn to. That there is a wound that can be healed, and a place where love can blossom once again. I’m willing to stand for love in this way, no matter how many times I’m rejected or told that I am being ridiculous. No matter how much I am taught that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, that there are good people and bad people, and that I have to dole out my approval accordingly. That I have to open my heart to some and not others…no I am just not going to do it.
To be clear I am not saying let’s all go wound ourselves by exposing our hearts to the whims of other people who are deeply wounded, and who have turned away so profoundly from the love inside of their very own hearts. Just because we remind people that the reality is love does not mean we then accept their behavior, one that is rooted in the lie that there is no love after all.
After all, this love I am talking about is not satisfied with surface level stuff, this love I am talking about, it is like a heat seeking missile and where it sees the absence of love, where it knows that there is someone lost in the illusion that love does not exist it is not afraid to call it out! To explode upon this illusion a bomb of truth, and to set up firm boundaries, lines in the sand, to demand, choose love is real on this side, or know that I will never be silenced until you do.
That’s right I will not stand for anyone who wants to promote these lies any longer, and I will stand in peace and devotion, with my arm outstretched. Choose this reality with me. Stand on the side of the courageous, of the strong-willed, of the truth-tellers, of the mystery lovers, of the boundary pushers, of the artists, the wild eyed ones, and let us howl together as we build up this new world where yes, again and again yes, the reality is love.
If we are to be this kind of love, if we are to trust that this love is the reality, start within. Start within. Do whatever you need to do to make this reality alive inside of you. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t take anyone else’s needs a priority over your own. Work as hard as you know how to work on this love and believe that you will find it. That you will sow it. And that it will grow. And then once it grows, by its very nature, it will want to spread.
It will want to pour out of you, like the water going over the rocks, like the sprays coming out of the broken fire hydrants attracting the children like moths to a flame to play in its beautiful and messy and broken freedom.
Oh yes, this is the love I am talking about. Can we all decide today to choose it as our reality? What more will it take it make it real than our own collective determination? We are all making a choice, right here, right now. What is yours?
Snakes are one of the most common creatures in the dream space, and they almost always signify some kind of lesson about our relationship to fear. Like love, fear is a tricky word, because it has such drastically different meanings to different people. When I think about the kind of fear snakes seem to engender, I relate it to what I call primal fear, or the visceral sensation in your body that you are about to die. So, if a snake is present in your dream, you can frame your understanding of the dream as, how could the way I relate to the snake in my dream reflect my own relationship to my primal fear?
When beginning your journey with your primal fear, remember that this sensation is completely natural and essential to your being. I would contend that like love, it is always present in our bodies to some extent, the part of our soul that is aware that we are alive. To be alive, in a sense, is to know this fear, to know that our existence precious and particular and inextricably linked to the current space and time we find ourselves in. All living things are equipped with the capacity to feel this depth and intensity of feeling. This fear, in many ways, is what keeps us alive.
Even though primal fear is quite natural, it is very difficult to experience, because it is intense, energetic, and completely engulfing. Not to mention, it can be linked to traumatic experiences where death truly was imminent. When you are having and intense experience of primal fear, there is basically nothing else that you can experience except it. Often, it is totally overwhelming, and a common response of the mind is to do something to numb, distract, or deny the sensation. While in these moments we may feel like we have ‘conquered’ our fear and are thus in control of it, quite the opposite is happening. Instead of allowing our primal fear its rightful place as one of our most powerful teachers and guides, we live our lives in constant management mode, doing whatever we can to avoid this most primary sensation, and as such, being completely dominated by it.
When faced with a sensation of primal fear, the first step is to make as objective an assessment of your external situation as you can. Are you in a situation that is objectively life threatening? Are there steps you need to take to preserve your life? If so, of course, take them.
But there are probably many other times where this kind of fear arises in your body that have nothing to do with an actual life or death situation. It is in these moments that the real work begins, because it is in these moments that our primal fear connects us not only to the desire of our bodies to continue existing, but also to the desire of our souls to live out the lives we were meant to live.
So if you are faced with a snake inside of your dream, pay attention to the way you react to it. Do you feel fear in the presence of the snake, or something else? If you feel fear—an intense form, one that is not so common in your daily life, the invitation of the dream is to begin to expand your capacity to sit with and embrace that feeling as an important part of who you are. I often compare this process to strengthening a muscle—begin wherever you are, and then push yourself just a little bit more. Can you allow yourself to feel this fear for one minute a day? How about 5 minutes a day? How about a full 10? As you strengthen your capacity to feel this fear, you are making it possible for your experience of this sensation to transform—you may even find that there’s something you like about it!
On the other hand, if you don’t feel fear in the presence of the snake, notice what you do feel or how you behave/react towards the snake. Are these feelings or reactions familiar to you in your daily life? Try to make a point of noticing when you are in situations where you feel similar to how you felt in the snake dream. Once you begin to be aware of these situations, ask yourself, what if there is a deeper fear here that I am avoiding? Is there a way to take a step closer to my fear rather than away from it?
In some sense, many of our day-to-day anxieties and worries can be traced back to our avoidance of our primal fear. If we are courageous enough to stay with the energy our primal fear presents when it arises, there are many benefits. Connecting to our primal fear and allowing it to be present in our bodies creates the possibility for us to know our most fundamental and true desires, since in the light of our own death, the path of our hearts becomes illuminated. Eventually, through practice, you can even come to experience your primal fear not as fear at all, but rather as the sensation of your own heart yearning, lighting a fire inside of your belly and pushing you towards the path you were intended to walk.
How do you experience snakes in your dreams? What’s the most powerful snake dream you’ve ever had? I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts..and as always…keep dreaming!