As an experienced dreamworker, I know dream messages are true and that they often predict the future. Yet sometimes I am not ready to hear what they have to say.

The truth is, when we have dreams that feel unsetting it’s easy to push them aside and hope they’ll go away. But if you are willing to face your emotionally disturbing dreams, you may be able to confront concerns before they turn into waking life dramas.

Case in point: two dreams I had at the beginning of last year that told me exactly what was coming. But I was so upset by their message that I didn’t do anything to work with the dream imagery or take action

Here’s the first dream:

My husband and I are in the kitchen of an apartment we live in. My husband tells me he’s moving out. He knows what he wants in life and he’s moving on. I am shocked and upset but I know I can’t change his mind. I ask him how he thinks I’ll survive—I can’t afford this apartment. He says, “Haven’t you ever wanted to go to exotic places?” And I think about Iceland and other foreign locales.

And here’s the second (this is part of a much longer dream):

I go through a gate and I am in a stairwell. There are lots of people there waiting in line. I realize I don’t have my cat with me anymore and my husband is gone too. I decide to keep going. I see a giant stuffed bear at the head of the line and it feels like people are entranced by the bear. When I get to the bottom of all the stairs I see I’m in a station for trains like BART. But there are very creepy cops like in science fiction movies—impersonal and robotic. They’re checking IDs. I don’t have mine. I see an ex of mine in a machine being scanned. I know he’s tricking them. I wish I knew how. I get stopped by a cop I saw staring at me before. He asks for my ID. I’m afraid he’ll shoot me, so I tell him I know I have it, I just have to look for it. He comes back and I admit I don’t have it and I’m willing to leave. He shows me the exit. I go through but I’m also trying to figure out a way to get around the rules. I’m not too sure I can pull it off.

Three months after these dreams, my ex-husband and I decided to divorce. At the time, it came as quite a shock to me, as the first dream predicted: “I am shocked and upset but I know I can’t change his mind.”

This is a completely accurate description of how I felt in waking life the first month after our decision. I also spent a lot of time thinking about how I’d make it on my own. I had relied on his income and I couldn’t afford the place where we lived. I honestly didn’t know how I’d survive, and this was because of more than just my financial situation.

Now that it’s been nearly a year since we split, I can see the obvious signs in the dreams, “My husband tells me he’s moving out. He’s moving on.” It doesn’t get clearer than that. In waking life, he was the first to move out and he was the first to move on. The dream got it all right.

I find the message of the second dream especially potent and it came just days later, a bit more lyrical and metaphorical, but not much more. First, it tells me I’m going through a gate, a threshold. Then I realize my cat and my husband are gone (the cat’s still with me…for now). Then I’m asked for my ID, but I don’t have mine. I no longer have an identification. I’m no longer a wife, no longer someone’s partner. One of the major identities of my life is gone. Later, I “admit I don’t have it and I’m willing to leave.” In waking, I had to struggle through not wanting to admit that the divorce was real. But eventually, I got to a place where I was willing to leave. I still didn’t feel like I could quite pull off living alone and without the identity I’d had for almost six years. A part of me wanted to find a loophole, to break the rules and figure out a way that for my ex-husband and I to stay together. But I know that’s not possible.

At the time, I didn’t want to accept what these dreams said, so I dutifully wrote them down in my dream journal and tried to forget about them. Of course, their messages stayed with me, in my body. At the time of the dreams I was in a great deal of pain from endometriosis. My body and my dreams were both telling me something was wrong. I held the memory of the dreams in my body and the memories manifested as physical symptoms.

Ways to Work with Difficult Dreams

Working with potent, emotionally charged dreams may be able to help you prepare for future situation. Although it might feel safer or easier to push aside unsettling dreams, it can often save you a lot of grief and even physical pain if you chose to work with the dreams instead. Here are some tips.

  1. Find a dreamworker you trust to help you explore the dream, especially someone who can help you deal with difficult emotions. (Everyone on the DreamTibe’s DreamTeam offers dreamwork.
  2. Seek out a dream group. Group dreamwork can help you see things in a dream you wouldn’t see otherwise.
  3. Take it slow. Explore the dream a little at a time and do only as much as you can handle. Don’t push. This work is important, but it is also key that you go at a pace that feels right.
  4. Sense into your feelings. Also check in with your body to see if working with the dream triggers any sensations. Feelings and physical sensations will give you enormous clues about the dream meaning.

From where I’m sitting now, I’m glad I finally listened to my dreams, got the message and accepted it.  I’m in a much better place. I’m pain free. My ex-husband and I have remained very good friends. There are even times when I realize I’m happy living alone with no one else to answer to.

And I’m leaving in about a month for a four-month trip to exotic locales: Scotland, England, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany…and perhaps Iceland too.