Dear Claire, 

Normally, I would be really embarrassed to talk out in the open about this dream that I had. But I think that I remember reading a dream in a column of yours that was similar to mine, and the meaning of the dream was not as ridiculous as the actual dream was. So here goes: My dream is about how my husband won’t allow me to go to the bathroom. I keep telling him that I have to go, and that I am going to have an accident, but he won’t let me go and even stands in my way. Why am I dreaming this? 

While we do have physical dreams, which are meant to send our conscious mind messages of physical needs—like dreams of food when we are hungry, dreams of cool drinks when we are thirsty, and, yes, dreams of needing to use (or actually using) the restroom when we are in need of physical elimination—the majority of the “needing to use the restroom” dreams tend not to be physical in nature. In fact, they are, more often than not, highly symbolic and meaningful—having absolutely nothing to do with an actual physical need for elimination. These dreams do, however, usually always have some connection to a mental or emotional need for elimination—and that is why they are so frequent and common, and why one should never feel embarrassed or ashamed about wanting an explanation for these dreams (in fact, “Using the Bathroom” dreams are one of the most commonly reported dreams from people wanting dream analysis). The subconscious mind doesn’t care about whether something is embarrassing or inappropriate—it only cares about getting its message across in the most powerful, memorable, and meaningful way possible. Because symbolism is the use of the concrete to represent the abstract, and because going to the restroom is one of the most private and intimate of all human acts, what better representation could there be to symbolize private and intimate feelings and emotions which need to be releasedAny embarrassment or inappropriateness associated with this symbolism only makes it all the more powerful and memorable—and that is what the brain wants. It wants the dreamer to take notice and remember the message that it is sending—and the possible embarrassment factor only strengthens that messageAs to this dreamer’s husband not allowing her to use the restroom even when she tells him that she is going to have an accident? This is most likely a reflection of the fact that the dreamer feels that she is not being allowed to release her personal feelings and emotions with him—whether that would be one-on-one with him, or in a group where he is present. Her dream also appears to indicate that even when she vocalizes her need for this mental/emotional release to him—and as well as the urgency of this need—she is still denied the opportunity by him and even blocked by him from doing so. Just like one’s body becoming toxic due to a lack of physical elimination, there are also toxic effects from “holding in” or suppressing certain feelings and emotions. As a result, her subconscious mind decided to use one of its most personal, most powerful, and most memorable symbols to convey its message in order to prompt the dreamer to finally take action and vent the built-up feelings and emotions. Most likely, when the dreamer is finally allowed to air her issues with her husband—and release those suppressed feelings and emotions—these dreams will cease. However, in the event that this dream was, in fact, a physical dream—and a reflection of an actual, physical need to “use the restroom”—the dreamer should probably just avoid consuming any liquids too close to bedtime. 

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