Two dreams

I have two recurring dreams. They are both Mormon related. Dear Dr. Freud, what do they mean?

1. I am called to go on another mission, not as a retiree, but now. It’s a rather banal call, i.e. the church isn’t calling missionaries to gather people to Missouri or for some other apocalyptic reason. I return to Austria to the same mission, the same MP, and many of the same missionaries. I go, but reluctantly. I appear to be the only elder who has to do this second mission and I feel very aggrieved.

2. I find myself in public wearing only my garments. It’s very embarrasing. Weirdly, in real life I am not particularly shy about this kind of stuff. I’m not averse to collecting the newpaper in my Moronis, and faced with a large body of swimmable water, and with enough testosterone pumping, I have been known to do things that would get you arrested in some countries. And yet this dream is a nightmare.

(My sincere apologies for causing all manner of unwanted images to race through your heads.)

Any other Mormon dreams out there?


  1. plvmetz says:

    I have had a dream like #1 multiple times. In this dream, I had the opportunity to return to the Geneva Switzerland mission to find the people that I didn’t find the first time because of laziness and/or lack of faith. The first several times, I was a college student and was going back for 10 months to a year. Later when I was married (in real life), my wife (in my dreams) always graciously said “Well if you think that you need to go, you have my support.” Later, when we had kids (in real life and in my dream), she also supported my feeling that I needed to go back. The urgency to go and find people always seemed to trump my family obligations. 2 years after finishing school, I got a nice offer to work in France and we are all here together. Sure, enough I am in the same mission I served in, though my town was not in my old mission at the time. I have not had this dream since and no longer feel this overwhelming sense of unfinished business. On the other hand, I have not been able to find anyone here but I am doing my best.

  2. plvmetz says:

    In case the correspondence between dream and real life was not clearly written, I currently live in the boundaries of the Geneva Switzerland mission and the repeated dreams came true in the sense that I returned to that mission area, but not in the sense that I left my family behind to do so.

  3. I routinely had the first dream for several years after my mission. It’s been a while since I’ve had it, though. My mission lasted about three weeks less than two years; that’s just how the transfers fell, but my dreams routinely featured the idea that the church had found out and assigned me to serve an additional three months to make up the difference. Alternatively, I dreamed that the mission president called up and asked for me to return, along with a handful of others that I’d known, to help rescue the mission from crisis. Both of these were nightmares, and I attribute both to a kind of survivor’s guilt. Things went pretty badly for a lot of people in my mission, and it felt to me as if, by going home, I was being rescued — even while leaving a lot of friends behind.

    I don’t know why you have the going-on-a-mission dream, Ronan. It doesn’t seem quite so much of a nightmare for you as for me, although I certainly appreciate that you describe feeling aggrieved about the extra time served.

  4. I’ve also had Ronan’s version of dream 1 many a time–the first time was a couple months before I got married and I was a little upset to find myself back in Haiti with two years to go before I could see my fiancee again. Finally, my psyche seems to have caught up with my life–when I had the dream last (about a month ago), I was just visiting and I had my wife with me.

  5. RE: JNS, I think survivor’s guilt was probably a factor for me as well–I only spent seven months in country before foreign missionaries got pulled.

  6. I have had nightmare 1 so often I can’t count the times, and it is indeed a nightmare every time. I wonder why that one is so common?

  7. Melissa says:

    I have nightmare number 2 pretty regularly. Don’t know why. Anybody else?

  8. #2 is a lot like the going-to-school-in-my-underwear nightmare that I used to have when I was very young. I haven’t had that dream in probably 20 years.

  9. Left Field says:

    Now that I think about it, I have had dreams of inexplicably being called back to the same mission. I don’t think I’ve had that dream for years, however.

    I do still have recurring (as in maybe once every 2-3 years) dreams of returning to my old mission headquarters. In the dream, I seem to be showing people around the city, and the mission home / visitors’ center is one of the sights.

    In real life, back in the Paleocene, my mission office was located on the second floor of the apartment building that adjoins what is now the Manhattan Temple. The usual entrance to the mission home was through the apartment building, while the (then) visitors’ center and stake center had a separate entrance at the other end of the block, with both entrances facing Columbus Ave. However, there was a somewhat obscure way to get from one building to the other through a common stairway. Now, of course, the visitors’ center is gone and the temple fills most of that building. Looking in the window from the street, it appears that the old mission office is now filled with exercise equipment, presumably used by inhabitants of the apartment building.

    However, the mission home of my dream bears little resemblance to either the current or former configuration of the church buildings at Lincoln Center. In my dream, I invariably go in a west-facing entrance on Columbus Avenue, and then somehow find myself going through the building to another entrance facing a street to the east. In real life, the next avenue to the east is Central Park West, and a whole bunch of other buildings abut the temple complex between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, so the configuration in my dream makes no sense whatsoever. But somehow, in my dream, it all seems familiar, perhaps because I’ve dreamed it that way before.

    Please explain that one to me, Sigmund.

  10. DH has had #1. I am not a RM, but have a dream I am back at BYU after 20+ years. I have forgotten to take some blasted math class.
    #2 Happens occasionally. I think that it means you feel a loss of respect (according to a dream interpretation website). That fits.

  11. RickFFM says:

    I got tired of having my variation on dream #1, so I moved back to Germany. Now I don’t have it anymore.

  12. BTD Greg says:

    These seem like pretty standard nightmare prototypes. I’ve had No. 1 about being told to go back to Japan for another two-year tour of duty. Then again, I’ve also had a dream that I get called by the high school wrestling coach and told that I’m needed for an upcoming tournament (whether I’m in shape or can make weight or not). It’s a very similar feeling. I’ve also had the underwear/pajamas in public dream. I think this may be based on being semi-lucid enough to know that you’re not dressed appropriately for being outside the house, but still being in enough of a dream-state to think you’re in a public setting.

  13. Cynthia L. says:

    I didn’t go on a mission, so I can’t relate specifically, but I have similar dreams about school all the time. I get a letter saying that my degree is invalid because I need a couple other electives or something, and I have to go back to finish them. Then I can’t find the room and/or it’s the final and I haven’t studied or wish I hadn’t skipped class as much, or something. Highly unpleasant.

  14. Mark IV says:

    Mene mene tekel upharsin.

  15. Mark B. says:

    My siblings and I all seemed to have the pajamas at school dream regularly. My complete ignorance of Freudian thought leads me to suspect that the whole thing arises from fear of being shamed in public–which was always the end of the pajama dream.

    As to the return to the mission dream, I had that several times in the years immediately following my mission, but not recently. (Thank goodness!)

  16. Mark B. says:

    Left Field

    Your dream means that you really should move back to New York, but avoid Manhattan at all costs. Try Brooklyn instead.

    If you tell me your MP’s name, I may be able to expand on this.

  17. Left Field says:

    Mark B.–Maybe that back entrance to the mission home goes under the East River and comes up in Brooklyn? My mission presidents were Roland Wright and Albert Choules.

    I don’t think I ever thought of my second mission call dream as a nightmare; I just felt really, really tired.

  18. I don’t often have dreams that I remember in the morning, but when I do it is almost inevitably one of those two.

  19. I used to have constant dreams of some monster chasing me. It would be a tyrannosaurus rex one time and a godzilla type the next. It would always enter some dream that was enjoyable, and would get into a chase scene (which I knew would end up inevitably, inexorably with me being caught by the monster), and close with me waking up in fright. About a year or so ago, I began telling myself that I need to confront the monster. So in my dreams I began confronting the monster, first to poor effect (waking up frightened), but slowly the monster would communicate back. Finally, one time, the monster stopped being a monster and turned into my father (who was abusive to me as a child). Since that last time, the monster has no longer appeared in my dreams.

    Dear Dr. Freud, what’s the analysis?

  20. plvmetz:

    I served in the Geneva Switzerland mission, and think I would love to live in france again. What city do you live in? Do you know of any jobs I could take that would allow me and my family (wife also served in Geneva Switzerland mission) to live there? email me at stevethecyclist at gmail dot com.

    I’ve had the return to the mission later in life dream, too. My wife was my companion. We were like a TJ (JW) couple. haha.

  21. Ronan, maybe you dream of being called back to your mission because you feel guilty for not being obedient enough the first time?

  22. CE,
    My obedience and diligence were legendary.

  23. I’ve had both dreams multiple times. The mission dream is always a nightmare. I also served in Germany, I wonder if their is a correlation to german speaking missions and increased nightmares about returning. A quick survey of the comments here seems to indicate such.

    One time had a dream about taking my wife with me on a second mission to germany. We weren’t old, but my kids never were part of the equation in the dream, so perhaps we just didn’t think of ourselves as old in the dream. Come to think of it I can’t think of any dreams I’ve ever had that I wasn’t the the same age as at the time I dreamed it.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve had no. 1 before. For no. 2 I’ve only had the more pedestrian underwear at school variant. In both cases it has been a long time since I’ve had either dream.

  25. Norbert says:

    The being in public unclothed dream is incredibly common for school teachers, especially just before they start a new job. Just sayin’.

  26. I dreamed I ate a giant marshmallow, and when I woke up, my pillow was gone.

  27. I’ve had a variant on #1. I think it’s because when I returned home from my mission, I felt like I still had some unfinished business. (Although I could never quite identify what it was.) I haven’t had that dream in a while.

  28. I have dream #1 every once in awhile. Except when I return to the field I am so much older than everyone else and fit in so awkwardly that I am unable to enjoy the experience very much. (I’m one of those freaks who enjoyed my mission).

  29. I’ve had an insanely positive version of #1–I’m back in the MTC, I’m going back to Italy, I’m seeing people I knew there–but my dream is filled with an absolute joy that my mission hardly ever was. I wake up suffused with intense longing for an experience that mostly wasn’t that fun and was sometimes downright miserable. Huh?

    At some periods in my life (during which I’ve rarely or NEVER thought about my mission during the day) I’ve had this recurring dream two or three times a week.

    I have no idea what to make of this. I’m very skeptical of psychoanalysis in general, in part because of phenomena like this. What on earth can it mean that my unconscious, where all the evil nasty iddish desires are supposed to live, is evidently a hopeless romantic, while my conscious mind is far more cynical and sometimes downright devilish?

  30. I have that same mission dream. Why oh why?

    I also dream repeatedly that I have to get married in the temple–and that my husband and are not yet married and “living in sin”. We did get married in the temple from the get go–and never fornicated, so I don’t know why I dream this over and over. I always feel desperate in the dream, and very guilty of a grievous sin.

  31. nmiles, heh heh. When I was actually on my mission I had a recurring dream about swimming (Long ago I was a very mediocre member of my high school swim team). There I was swimming away, enjoying myself, and suddenly it would hit me–oh, crap, I’m on a mission!–and I would hop out of the ocean/pool and immediately dial my mission president on the pay phone conveniently situated right beside the ocean/pool evidently just for missionary confessions.

    Then I’d wake up in a cold sweat, immensely relieved that the whole thing had been a dream.

    I so hate dreams like that.

  32. NorthboundZax says:

    I used to occasionally have dream #1 of being back on the mission for a second time. However, a few years ago – during the dream – I realized there was no way I would have accepted a second stint, so I MUST be dreaming. I immediately woke up and haven’t had it again since. *shrug*

  33. Steve Evans says:

    I have dream #1 with some regularity. It’s not very pleasurable. Lots of it is spent explaining to the 19-yr-olds why an old married dude is serving a mission again.

  34. With all this talk of #1 and #2 I think there has to be a subconscious tie-in to potty training.

  35. Mark B. says:

    Left Field,

    Coming up in Brooklyn is a little improbable–sort of like being thrown from the windows of the Salt Lake Temple into the Great Salt Lake.

    Wright and Choules–man that makes you old. Choules was the MP when I moved here in late summer 1980 (I think), since by counting backwards I get to him finishing in July 1983.

  36. Mark B. says:

    I’ve recently had a dream several times that my wife has a secret smoking habit, and that she has had it since childhood.

    I’d like to know where that one comes from.

  37. Dream # 2 is pretty common with me, either finding myself at work in only my G’s, or out shopping somewhere, and suddenly realizing I’m only dressed in my underwear. And as far as I can remember, I’ve never been able to resolve the problem in my dreams, just hopelessly trying to find a way out of the situation.

    My other particularly Mormon dream is that I’m somewhere, and I suddenly realize it is Sunday morning, and I’m supposed to be at church speaking or teaching a lesson. I’m not dressed for church, I’m far away (often in another state), and no phone is available to call and let anyone know I’m either going to be late or not show up at all.

    My most often recurring dream is that I am in my birth town of Ogden, Utah, walking along Washington Boulevard (Ogden’s main street), trying to remember where I parked my car, and otherwise trying to get back north to my home. I never find the car, or when I get to where I left it, it’s not there, and I have to keep walking towards home.No religious significance that I can find, but it happens usually a couple of times a month.

  38. Steven P says:

    Ronan, Since I am in Austria, and I visited the Freud museum this very weekend. And you posted this dream about a return to Austria I declare it of great cosmic significance. If only we knew what it was. I hope it was not Jungian Synchronisticy (wow and one of the posters did a mission in Switzerland where Jung lived) because what be way to much given they feuded at the end. Oh my. I’m sure this is important. If only we knew why.

  39. I have no dreams- and I’m just stuck giggling at the image of RJH running down the drive in his skivvies to get the paper… ;)

  40. Left Field says:

    Mark B–Well, the street I come out on in my dream certainly doesn’t look like Brooklyn. But then it doesn’t look like Central Park West either. You got the MP exactly right. Choules arrived in July 1980 and I went home three months later. How in the world do you keep track of mission presidents from a quarter century ago? I couldn’t tell you the name of the current MP where I live, and he just spoke in my ward two days ago.

    I have had dream #2, but I never thought of it as a Mormon dream–just your standard underwear-in-public dream.

    I think the student’s nightmare that some people have mentioned is fairly common. It’s been quite awhile since I had it, but my version has me suddenly remembering that I need to take the final exam for a class that I had completely forgotten to attend.

  41. John Taber says:

    I used to have dream #1 a lot, particularly two to five years after I came home. The context was that I’d had a medical release from my mission (something that almost happened a few times in real life) but that at some point (say, after finishing college, which I did do during this time) I put papers in again and was called for another 12 or 18 months.

    While that particular dream stopped nine or ten years ago, I’ve had feelings from time to time that at some point, I’ll do what plvmetz is doing, and live in my mission’s area for a time. Thing is though, I’m in the opposite situation – while Geneva mission expanded in 2002, Italy Padova Mission went on the chopping block (again) the same year. And with the Euro around $1.60, and the line of work I’m in, I don’t know how it would happen. (I don’t know how I could even visit long enough to stop by all the places I served.) But that feeling is still there.

  42. Cynthia L. says:

    #34, awesome.

  43. Steven,
    And I shall be in Austria (the Alpine part) at the weekend!

    When I lived in a dorm with Anglican priests, I would run down the corridor to have a wee, secretly hoping I would dazzle an unsuspecting vicar with The Great Whiteness. (Not a double entendre, in case anyone was wondering.)

  44. “Lots of it is spent explaining to the 19-yr-olds why an old married dude is serving a mission again.”

    On my mission I had a picture of my GF holding her niece or some other baby. I used to tell everyone it was my wife and kid.

  45. cj douglass says:

    I had dream #1 many times in the first year I was home. But frankly, it wasn’t a nightmare at all – it was wonderful. The nightmare was waking up.

    Not because I was very righteous and loved every moment of my mission – but because I really hated dating and school and work and figuring out what to wear and what to do with my life.

    Let’s just say my mission didn’t enhance my life when I came home – it crippled it.

  46. Researcher says:

    40 – Choules arrived in July 1980 and I went home three months later. How in the world do you keep track of mission presidents from a quarter century ago? I couldn’t tell you the name of the current MP where I live, and he just spoke in my ward two days ago.

    Well, maybe Mark B. has a mind like a steel trap, but Pres Choules is one of the few stake presidents I can remember, which says a lot since I was a small child at the time.

    And speaking of dreams (which don’t seem to happen much when you have a small child waking a number of times in the night) I did recently have one about being back in college and forgetting to go to a class all semester. I can’t say that I remember any mission or underwear dreams. Sorry to be of no help on that…

  47. StillConfused says:

    #1. Although I have a doctorate degree, I do not have a highschool diploma. I routinely had dreams of getting “busted” and having to go back to high school. Those dreams continued until after my daughter graduated high school. At that point, I guess my brain decided it was just silly to keep having that dream.

    #2. In my dreams, I used to always be wearing what clothing I was sleeping in. So I would go to bed fully clothed. That has eased over time. I still have the occassional topless dream but that seems to be about it.

    Speaking of dreams, I always have full orchestra background music in my dreams and intense light displays (much like at the movies). Does anyone else have that?

  48. Left Field (and Researcher):

    Traumatic events have a way of sticking with one–and I remember Choules’s successor (Boyd Christensen) leaving less than one year after the traumatic event (in November 1985–look it up in the Church Almanac) that put me in close contact with the mission presidents in this area. So, subtract three from July 1986 to get to Choules ending in July 1983, and the rest follows, as the night the day. Voila! Or for the closet string instrumentalists, viola!

  49. Re: 47

    I don’t think I’ll talk about the occasional topless dreams that I have.

  50. StillConfused says:

    #49. In my topless dreams, I realize that I am topless but no one else seems to notice or care…

  51. About a week ago I had the #1 nightmare. I was trying to explain to my grad school advisor that I was leaving to go back to Argentina for a year and half and would it be okay if I were to return to her lab when I came back? She was not happy with me. I’m glad I don’t have to have that conversation!

  52. Coolest dream I’ve ever had was like a movie, with bad guys, kung fu fighting and shoot outs. At first I was a girl with two guys fighting against the bad guys. At one point we got separated and reunited at the end for the final blow out.

    Then the dream ended and started all over again, except the second time through I was one of the guys, and I got to see it all happen from his point of view. I experienced what happened when we were separated and stuff.

    Totally cool.

  53. Meredith C says:

    I’ve had dream #1 many many times in many different forms. I loved my mission but these dreams are always nightmares. In one my mother and I decided to go on a mission together – she was just going to leave her husband behind for a hear and a half I guess. As the MTC date approached, I started to really want to back out, but she would have none of it.

    The best dream though, was about two really really diligent sister missionaries in my YSA ward – there was a ward missionary who was really enthusiastic, but also kind of nuts and commonly known to be a pathological liar and all sorts of other good stuff. Anyway, in my dream he got married and the sister missionaries planned and executed the whole event, and then tried to get the other ward missionaries to not only assist, but pay for the wedding as well. They came to my house the day after with a bill for my portion of the costs and without giving me a chance to protest peeled off in their missionary car.

  54. Mark B. says:

    Re: #50.

    How frustrating must that be?! To finally have the nerve to walk around like a modern Lady Godiva and nobody even notices!

  55. 2 Dreams come to mind for me

    1. I was back on my mission, fighting the undead. Guess I watch to many Zombie movies

    2. Once after a counselor in my bishopric chastised my wife for something . I dreamed later that I was giving a talk in sacrament, Got corrected by him and I ended up in a brawl with the bishopric. Even threw him over the pulpit.

  56. StillConfused says:

    #55. Okay Your Second Dream is awesome. Let me know when that is going down so I can be sure to attend your ward that day. Amount of travel required not an issue.

  57. The Right Trousers says:

    #44: “On my mission I had a picture of my GF holding her niece or some other baby. I used to tell everyone it was my wife and kid.”

    My first year out, the young women in my home ward sent all the missionaries care packages. One of the items was a photo of them all holding up a hand-painted banner that said, “Merry Christmas Elder _____!”… grinning their brains out, braces and everything.

    I put it in my wallet. I was SO tempted to tell random people they were my wives. I managed to jolt a few members, and I regret to this day that that’s all I did with it.

  58. Carlos U. says:

    I had dream #1 many times, allways as a nightmare. I had it more frequently during the first few years after my mission. Not too long ago, I had it again, and not only did I go for a second 2-year stint, I even did a third!

    The funny thing is, I’m an Iraq vet. Haven’t had a dream about that at all. After comming home, I went back to my mission for real, and it was a very neat experiance.

  59. Carlos U. says:

    PS-I’m REALLY, REALLY glad to know I’m not the only one with dream #1.

  60. Never had dream #1. Had dream number #2 multiple times, but not recently. (which is weird for me, as well, since I also am not self-conscious about it one bit) I’m sure it make a reappearance now. Thanks a lot!

    My only other “Mormon dream” is that I never graduated from high school and have my college diploma rescinded and get released from my church calling when everyone finds out about it. I have no idea whatsoever what caused that one.

  61. Very strange. I have Dream #1 all the time and feel your same reaction. It is similar to my dream of returning to college because it was discovered that I didn’t have enough credits to graduate.

  62. MarkinPNW says:

    Researcher (#46), I have had that same dream several times, about forgetting to go to some essential class all semester in college. I finally figured out that I have that dream when I am not reading the scriptures on a regular basis, and as soon as I start reading them every day (or nearly so), the dream goes away.

  63. Dream #1: Frequently and always a nightmare. I end up crying a lot about having left my children at home. Want to serve but my kids need me too. What could it mean?
    Dream #2: Less often, not always a nightmare. I’ve always heard that naked/undies-only in public dreams mean that you are feeling unprotected or emotionally exposed.
    Dream #3(comments 46 & 62): Frequently and always a nightmare. [Oops, I’ve been in Organic Chemistry? Oh Crap. Can I borrow anyone’s notes?] That dream crops up when I have a lot of commitments that are coming to their critical points.
    Great post. Fun comments.

  64. I have both of those dreams simultaneously. I love it.

  65. Researcher says:

    #62. That’s funny because I had the dream again during a time when I had been reading the scriptures every single day regularly for a couple of months, something I hadn’t done since Pres Hinckley’s challenge a few years back.

    Kind of goes to show you that having one single explanation for a dream (ala Freud) is a little simplistic.

    Now I’ve slacked off on the scriptures again and hadn’t realized it, so thanks for mentioning it anyway; I’ll get right back on that habit.

  66. I had dream #1 last night!

    I was surrounded by old mission buddies, some of whom were almost finished, which made me very annoyed to be doing it AGAIN! The mission was updated, though: Germany Munich rather than (the now defunct) Austria Vienna.

  67. Cynthia says:

    Ronan….your dreams are fascinating! I have often had Dream #2, and one dream in which I was in a temple session only in my garments, which was horrible! Everybody was walking around as if nothing untoward was happening, but I found myself trying to sit very still and hope that I was invisible. Fortunately, when I got up to leave, I realized I did NOT have the old one-piece on…which is extremely fortunate!!

  68. Ronan, it seems to me that in your dream, your nakedness except for your garments symbolizes the idea of “exposure” and having who you are immediately visible to everybody.
    I’d have to say that keeping a blog is very much like that.

    The mission dream – it may be telling you that blogging about the gospel is a personal mission the Lord has given you and maybe it means that you need to have a blog written in the language of your mission – German – for the people of Austria.

    That’s my attempt at an interpretation.

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