birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I've had a repeating anxiety dream where my college finds out that I never took my piano proficiency exam, which means that I never actually got my Bachelor's Degree. I really did skip the piano proficiency exam. I was a piano performance major, so it seemed unnecessary. Every time they call to tell me I freeze.

I tend to have sequential dreams over months and years following a breakup. It happened most notably after my very first boyfriend and I broke up, maybe for 10 years! I was devastated by that breakup. My identity had been completely enmeshed with his, and it really felt like the death of something.

I remember one dream in particular, which was about a pair of pajama pants. In the dream, our dorm rooms were connected by a portal which was a shared closet. He was in his dorm room with his new girlfriend, and I entered in order to get the pair of pajama pants we shared. While I was there I overheard his new girlfriend saying it was weird that I kept showing up. I wanted to yell, "I'm really just here for the pants!" but my voice didn't work.

That continued until the dreams were about my ex boyfriend and his new wife. In the last dream that I remember, we all met up in a park and we were friends.

I've been in recovery for codependence and some other relationship issues for three years. Over the course of that time, I've felt some of the deepest feelings I have. I hope, anyway! Some of the deep, deep pain of my childhood. It always takes me a few days to integrate myself all back together. It's a lot easier and less frequent now, but whenever I do let one of those huge waves of emotion pass through me, I have very fragmented, vivid dreams for a few nights. I think it's my subconscious making sense of a new landscape.

I broke up with a different guy about three years ago. He was the person who brought me to recovery. He was really an abusive jerk, and when I learned how to love and take care of myself just a little bit, it finally became harder to stay than it was to leave.

The getting to leaving was very hard. The leaving was easy. I just said good-bye and walked down his front porch steps and got into my car. There were some mixed feelings, of course, but the very first feeling I experienced as I drove away was exhilaration. It was as if I had just dropped a 100 pound weight after carrying it for a very long journey.

I had very few dreams about him after that night.

Sweet Dreams