With summer here, many of us get to spend time either at the beach or at a swimming pool. Lying beside a pool, lazing away a summer’s day is many people’s idea of fun.
But when we dream of swimming pools, it is too simplistic to say that we are just enjoying some wish-fulfillment and want to relax. Dreams don’t bother to tell us something we already know.
Water symbolizes emotions as well as healing and refreshment. Swimming pools are man-made, and so represent a container of sorts for the water. Psychologically, when we dream of pools, we are dreaming about the personal unconscious, that part of each of us where our private fears and hopes, complexes and shadows are hidden from our ego-consciousness.
To dive into the waters of the ocean is to search for the secret of life. To dive into a swimming pool is to understand our personal hang-ups and preoccupations.
A young woman who is having trouble with her marriage dreamed:
I am at a pool and see a young couple standing in the water, talking and flirting. I try to get into the pool but I discover there’s a cover over the water. It looks like a carpet. When I finally push it aside, I have to strip away a plastic cover to get to the water. But then I see a mattress floating on top of the water and I notice cartoon characters on the mattress. I am left with a feeling of disappointment.
Here the pool does represent the woman’s personal unconscious. The couple she sees in the water is younger than her, still in their early 20s. This image of love and connection is what she’d like to reclaim in her marriage. But her inner pool is covered over and she is having a hard time figuring out what she has to do to re-connect with her husband.
First there is the carpet, which she associates with her home and family. Carpets and rugs often represent our grounding, our family, home. The nomads lay down their carpets in their tents to ground their dwelling and make it a home. So the first layer that she has to get through is her parental ideas about relationships. Then the plastic layer protects her from the feelings (the waters) below.
Once she ‘unwraps’ her pool, she discovers a mattress with cartoon characters on it. We all have childish fantasies about love and romance, but the reality is that many of us are not prepared to be married. Nobody sits us down and tells us the right way to be a partner or the best way to be a lover. We go into marriage blind and in love, with our parents’ marriage as our only guide. And for many of us, our parents’ example is not a big help.
This woman is left with a feeling of disappointment, both at the end of the dream and in her marriage. Before you can be a partner to someone else, you have to know and love yourself. That is the journey of self-discovery that this woman is now on.
Her marriage can only benefit from it if her husband also does his inner work. She’s hoping he gets into the pool too!
Until next time,