I need a name for this feeling

by Jennifer on April 1, 2008

dandelion-2.jpgYou know that feeling you have when you’ve woken up just before the best part of a dream? When you wake up right when _________ (fill in the blank) was leaning in to kiss you? Or just as the big secret was about to be revealed? That feeling that comes when you’ve been dreaming of a good life, A better one, you think in your dream, than my real one. A house in Italy, or somewhere on a beach, where there is good, beautiful food, and the air is diffuse with golden light. And when you awaken, to the sound of a child’s want or to the alarm clock, you have the sense that the intensity of the dream is still yours to keep, except now it lies just beyond your fingertips, or behind your eyelids, if you could just reach it or fall back asleep. If I could just fall back asleep… But it’s impossible to get it back.

Do you know that feeling?

And then–after you realize you’re well and fully awake–comes the disappointment and, along with it, the annoyance of having been interrupted in that moment, even though it wasn’t real. Maybe especially because it wasn’t real, since reality isn’t all that great. You mumble, “Yeah, okay honey, climb in here with Mommy,” or “Shit, it’s 6:30?” while inside you’re crying Josh Lucas was just about to kiss me! And you wake me up now? Or, The house, the beautiful little house, it was mine.

There are more frightening dreams, nightmares, but the ones that weigh me down lately are the ones in which I experience some sort of accomplishment or success, only to wake up to a reality that measures my success in these units: three meals a day, plus snacks, for my children; signed homework sheets; soothed feelings; and a house that isn’t littered with socks or Lego pieces.

I imagine some of you know that feeling, of a personal dream lost or out of reach, a purpose unfulfilled.

This feeling of loss or yearning comes in all sorts of forms, and I suppose we each pick our poison. Here’s the hell of it, though: Sometimes I wake up with it even when my sleep was deep and dreamless. Without a warning. No prologue or preamble. Today was one of those days.

It’s possible to just wake up with that sensation of heaviness and restlessness, at once. To feel both weighted down and edgy. Rooted or chained at my feet, but with nerves that feel as light and vulnerable as the fluff on a dandelion gone to seed. Like one gust of wind could strip me bare.

That feeling.

All day long, I couldn’t shake it. And I can’t explain it either, or name the source of it. Maybe I shouldn’t try to lose it just yet, in case something important is trying to emerge from the bedrock of my brain. But I hope I can shake it soon. It’s not easy company.

Neither am I.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Akelamalu April 1, 2008 at 2:10 am

If I wake up as the best part of the dream is about to happen sometimes I can go back to sleep and pick up where I left off! However I do know the feeling you are talking about.

cce April 1, 2008 at 3:47 am

I’m right there with you and have found myself faking sleep in the early hours of the morning to just lay there with my pleasant thoughts and dreams and avoid the reality that is my life. I feel profoundly guilty about this avoidance because, really, I have a good life, one that most people would envy, but still there’s always this feeling that it is no longer a choice. You know?

suburbancorrespondent April 1, 2008 at 5:13 am

Yes, a vague feeling of dissatisfaction is not a good companion for the day. I’ve had that feeling, too; real life is a rude awakening, sometimes.

HRH April 1, 2008 at 5:50 am

Ugh, I know that feeling. That feeling of impending dread for unknown reasons. I hate that feeling.

Kellan April 1, 2008 at 7:22 am

I know this feeling you speak of. I don’t like when it lingers too long. I hope the feeling leaves you soon and you are content – at ease – once again.

Have a good day Jennifer – I will see you soon. Kellan

dragonfly April 1, 2008 at 7:36 am

My dreams lately have been me desperately looking for something, or trying to accomplish something, something that will affect many people, with a “life or death” sort of feeling…and then I wake up.

Hope you can get rid of that feeling..

Jenn @ Juggling Life April 1, 2008 at 7:40 am

I think it is that feeling that drives so many of us to volunteer and blog and have political discussions outisde the school gates after the children have gone in for the day.

If you weren’t smart and thoughtful you’d never have those feelings; that’s the upside to those emotions.

the mama bird diaries April 1, 2008 at 7:44 am

I hate that general state of yuckiness. The three things that can snap me out of that discontent are…

1. yoga class (even thought i don’t feel like going)
2. writing (even when I don’t feel like writing)
3. a wine night with a couple close girlfriends (i’m always in the mood for wine and hangin’ with girlfriends.

Madge April 1, 2008 at 8:18 am

lately that feeling has been all i’ve been feeling.

Sandy (Momisodes) April 1, 2008 at 8:36 am

I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way. I can relate to this on so many days, but I don’t think I could describe it as eloquently as you do. I tend to feel this way when I wake up and stare at my inbox crammed with unread messages, and none of them from friends or family with something good to say. And I feel this way at night sometimes, after a long day of mentally comparing my groundhog day life with another mom with a more exciting one.

I love reading your posts and having them for company, even if they’re not always sunshine and flowers.

Daryl E April 1, 2008 at 8:56 am

You mean that ‘sense of impending doom’? Oh yeah. I hope you can dream it out and let it go .. and I sincerely hope you feel better soonest

Jenny, Bloggess April 1, 2008 at 11:01 am

I honestly thought I was the only one who had these!

ByJane April 1, 2008 at 11:09 am

my mom used to call this the JimJams

Meg April 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Wow…I too thought I was the only one who got “that” feeling! Yikes…my husband does not believe in those “feelings”, so when I get them I have to lay there and keep it to myself and wonder “what” is fiixng to happen…hope you are “feeling” better!!

TEOM? April 1, 2008 at 1:00 pm

The dream that sets me off in this way is one in which I suddenly find out that my house has vastly more rooms than I thought it did.

Landon April 1, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I’ve been there, and I’m sure I’ll visit that space again. A beautiful, bittersweet post.

Mrs. G. April 1, 2008 at 4:16 pm

There are days when sleep is my sweet refuge. My house is always clean and dinner is always made..and Johnny Depp is painting my toenails.

Kelley April 1, 2008 at 4:29 pm

May God speed you out of your funk, hunny bunny!

we_be_toys April 1, 2008 at 5:04 pm

What? A spruced up patio wasn’t enough?!
Judging by the other comments, we are not alone in this feeling!
I’m always in an antique store that has incredible prices on beautiful things, a used book store that just got in an entire estate’s worth of rare books, or Ben Owen III has just told to go pick out a piece of his pottery as a personal gift from him to me, and then something wakes me up, dammit!
I understand exactly what you mean – it isn’t that fufilling to measure one’s success by three squares, a clean house, and homework signed in triplicate. These are the very things that send me into a funk as well. I know its a luxury to be a SAHM, and I DO appreciate it, but there has to be more to life – there HAS TO BE. Its why I started blogging, and went out and refurbished the paintbox – I need that sense of personal goals set and accomplished to feel like I am some semblence of a viable lifeform.
For what its worth, I think you write beautifully. I read your stuff and then go back and kick figuratively at my own sorry state of self expression. I want to write like you when I grow up!

Just Jamie April 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Wow Jennifer. So, so glad I stopped by today. You just put a name, well okay not a name, but beautiful eloquence to that *thing* that I often feel.

Where do I send the check. You’re better than a therapist.

Sorry you’re having a gray day (Dr. Seuss: My Many Colored Days), but know that you made my empty longings feel validated today.

Manic Mommy April 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm

General Malaise? That’s the term I use when I get this feeling. I have not been feeling like this lately. I think I’m content because I realize that the clean sheets, healthy snacks, and folded clothes are NOT who I am. It’s what I’m choosing to do right now for the good of my family. And I’m happy with that active decision.

Go over to Merlot Mom’s. Sounds like you are in a similar place right now.

You’re 36% of the way through your book!

marlee April 1, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Yeah, it’s the feeling that usually leads me to a box of Hostess cupcakes… (sigh)

flutter April 1, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I believe that feeling is called “Oh, Shit!”

JCK April 2, 2008 at 12:27 am

This post gave me the shivers. I know this feeling well. I loved the image of the dandelion fluff.

Now, you HAD to get me all HOT & BOTHERED over Josh Lucas. Damn girl!

Lisa April 2, 2008 at 8:38 am

I so do not enjoy that feeling.
As far as dreams, I am always, constantly, nightly, dreaming I am traveling to the beach and we are always stuck in a snowy Northern airport on layover–usually the Twin Cities in Minn. I dream of that airport so much that I desperately want to see to see if it looks like my dreams (I have never been there).
Oh and I never seem to mind the layover…weird.

liv April 2, 2008 at 10:15 am

i know that feeling. it reminds me in a way of advent—-the waiting and waiting for something wonderful to happen on earth and in yourself. the not knowing when your personal Christmas will come.

Tootsie Farklepants April 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Sounds like you had a bad dream that didn’t end well, yet you can’t remember it. It’s trapped somewhere in your subconscious and weighing you down.

Minnesota Matron April 2, 2008 at 8:07 pm

What a wonderful post! Yes! I know THAT feeling. Sometimes I wake up with something lush and wonderful within my grasp — something better than my own life or the object of my desire–and then I actually wake up and experience gut-wrenching disappointment. This is real. The contentment is not.

I would love to believe there’s some lesson to be learned or spiritual explanation and the universality of this is not simply some hard-wiring we all share?

Brenda April 7, 2008 at 8:23 am


But I can’t remember the last time I slept long enough to have a dream. Probably not that long ago, but it’s been long enough that I don’t know.

Hope it got better, because I’m commenting quite a lot later than when you wrote this.

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