I have a recurrent dream….I’m walking down a street. A busy street that is not familiar to me, with people rushing past me. These are not people I know. I feel unsettled and I am not sure why. Then, to my horror, I realise I am not wearing any clothes. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. People walk past me laughing, pointing, talking about me, stopping and staring. A few look the other way and some look at me with sympathy. No-one offers me anything with which I can cover myself up so I remain naked and exposed.
There are many iterations of this dream and psychologists generally agree that they probably don’t represent a literal desire to be naked in public. I find this reassuring even though I was fairly certain this wasn’t my underlying ambition. There also seems to be a general consensus amongst psychologists that the dream is not an erotic one. Again, I was fairly certain about this already because George Clooney wasn’t chasing me down the street lusting after my naked body. The much less exciting explanations are that the dream: 1) Relates to being embarrassed about something about myself that other people don’t know about or 2) Suggests the feeling that I have recently opened up or exposed myself and left myself vulnerable.
Now, I’m no psychologist but I’m fairly certain that I understand what the dream means for me.
I find it a deeply personal thing to tell someone that I have Parkinson’s. I’m exposing my vulnerability, I’m revealing my imperfect brain. Unless I choose to follow this up with an explanation of the impact this has on me, this leaves other people free to make their own assumptions based on any prior knowledge they might have of the condition and Parkinson’s is misunderstood in so many ways.
Until recently, it was my choice to tell or not to tell, when to tell and how to tell. Now as my tremors have worsened, it is fairly obvious to others at times that something is wrong and in some situations, I feel the need to explain. I clearly I don’t lose sleep over it if I’m dreaming but it is something I would like to feel more confident about.
I’m practising saying it with my head held high, with an air of confidence that conveys the message that I’m simply sharing a fact which is just part of my everyday life, not exposing something deeply personal. On a scale of things to worry about in relation to having Parkinson’s, there really are bigger things I could focus on if I was inclined. For now, however, I’m determined to get better at telling people without feeling so vulnerable. I thought it might help if I practiced by walking naked down the street just to see if George Clooney might chase me. Oh, sorry, that’s a different dream……!