It finally happened. I dreamt I wasn’t wearing any pants.

But, it gets more interesting than that.

These are my favourite blog posts. The ones where I get to share the bizarre adventure I just woke up from, pick them apart, and have a little therapy session with myself. I never underestimate the power of dreams, and interpreting them. Sometimes it’s just a dream – random events from your previous day leaking out of the dream box we place them in so we can ruminate over them without the anxiety of being awake. Sometimes they’re more though. Sometimes they’re parts of the ‘you’ that you’re striving to become, tapping at your subconscious so you don’t forget that they’re there.

First, let me tell you about the dream.

I was photographing a wedding, and everything was pretty generic. This is refreshing, because my work-related dreams usually entail me losing my gear, or forgetting that I’m supposed to be shooting. Sometimes I’m on the wrong floor and I’m missing the wedding. At least I was present for this one, and actually had my gear with me.

Along with the whole wedding party, we went to a drama school where the bride apparently went to school. She put on a magical performance of herself as Tinker Bell (I shit you not) where she was literally flying around the room. She was either Tinker Bell, or knowing me, more likely the Green Fairy, the Absinthe Goddess. If you aren’t sure what this is, Green Fairy, or Green Muse, is another name for the incredibly potent alcohol, absinthe. But, she is also a metaphorical concept of artistic enlightenment and exploration, of poetic inspiration, of a freer state of mind, of new ideas, and a changing social order.


The Green Muse, by Albert Maignan, 1895.

I’m not an alcoholic in my dreams. However, it usually finds its way in somehow.

I was certain I was going to have to photoshop the hell out of these pics because I now seemed to have forgotten how to use a camera. (Finally! It happens in every work related dream.)

There was a special gala being held for the couple at the drama school, aside from the regular wedding reception. I was still wearing pants at this point. We leave and go to a coffee shop, and I’m now running up a winding staircase to the attic to get something (I can’t recall what, however attics and staircases are very common in my dreams). I pass a lot of wait staff who I don’t know, and who don’t recognize me. I try to explain to them that I actually work there (which I didn’t) so I could get to the attic. I think I was looking for a ruler, or a wand. It was something long and thin, like a walking stick.

I never found it.

Suddenly we’re all on our way back to the wedding reception, and a bridesmaid leads us a different way – down a crazy embankment to this set of insanely steep stone steps, that are cockeyed and at ridiculous angles, with massive gaping spaces between them where you could fall to your death to rushing water below. My anxiety kicks in full tilt. I’m holding people up behind me and terrified, not being able to find my footing, say ‘I can’t. I’m going back’.

I’m so terrified of falling I can’t take another step. I’m literally frozen. Ugh, even recalling this to write about it is turning my insides out.

Now we are at someone’s house – and this is where I suddenly have no pants on. The bride and all the bridesmaids are doing their thing and I’m walking around trying to cover myself with my camera bag. I wasn’t necessarily embarrassed, and no one was really making note of my lack of pants. Sandwiches are delivered and there’s only 2 – they were labeled and had names on them, but I can’t remember whose names they were. It seems we were expecting 5. I was starving but there was no food (this could likely be me just being hungry, because I woke up famished.) I go outside for a cigarette, still without any pants, trying casually to disguise myself behind some bushes in their front yard. Some of the girls are now in the neighbours house, and I can hear them talking despite them being inside, like their voices were being broadcast on an outdoor speaker.

“Hey photographer guy, looks like you need to go shopping” one girl said.

I’m more irritated than embarrassed, because I was doing so well having no one notice I had no pants on.

And then, I wake up.

According to

When you are without your clothes, you are also most vulnerable. There is absolutely nothing that you can hide behind. Thus the dream may parallel a waking situation where you feel helpless or where you have completely let your guard down.

Well, I’d have to admit that seems spot on given how I’ve been feeling lately. All this writing has been allowing me, for the first time ever, to disclose a lot of things I’ve kept bottled up and hidden (albeit pseudo-anonymously). A step towards vulnerability.

Vulnerability: The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

I can’t say I fully adopt that definition of vulnerability. Vulnerability can be sexy. It can be positive and productive. Opening yourself up to possibility – period. Without being vulnerable, you can’t get to the raw emotions that you need to break down and deal with. It’s only in our own vulnerability that we can truly see what makes us tick. What makes us who we are, and allows us to see all the many parts of ourselves we need to work on – and the parts we should be proud of.

I think a huge part of my fear of going to a detox centre is that vulnerability. The very same reason I have a hard time talking. Opening up isn’t easy.

Exposing yourself.

Being exposed. And having to really look at yourself. All the flaws. The broken parts. And maybe even admit some of the good things, too.

The worst. has this to say about the scary stairs in my dream:

These dreams may also occur if we feel we are slipping in someone else’s esteem of us, if we feel people are “looking down” on us and we are losing some degree of power and confidence. But as with all dreamwork, only you know the entire story of your life, and it is worth remembering that “down” does not equate with “bad.”  Stairs in dreams going down can also be a symbol for entering our “deeper” self, as when we start dreamwork and start to access our deeper subconscious.

And, according to

To dream that you slip or trip on the stairs signify your lack of self confidence or conviction in the pursuit of some endeavor. If you slip going down the stairs, then it suggests that you are moving too quickly in delving into your subconscious. You may not be quite ready to confront your subconscious or repressed thoughts.

On the surface – it seems obvious that I’m hesitant about quite literally taking the steps I need to take at this point in my life. It’s fear. Fear of falling, of failure, of being exposed. Addressing repressed thoughts – I turn back.

I was absolutely frozen in my dream. I watched others in front of me navigate the staircase, despite how terrifying it was. But my feet wouldn’t move.

I was too afraid to take the next step.

I’m beginning to think this is the most profound revelation from my dream. The most honest part. The rest of it seems to be just bookends to the real chapter, which is facing my fear of being exposed and vulnerable, by taking the steps I need to take.

It’s been on my mind so much lately – the desire for change. The next step. For weeks now. Months, actually. I’m not surprised it’s starting to manifest in my dreams. When that starts to happen, you know you’re ignoring something you need to take action on. says this about the attic staircase:

Walking or running up the stairs can have several meanings. It can also mean you are reaching toward a higher consciousness.

Hot damn, there it is.

So here’s my takeaway:

  • Shooting the wedding: My reality, my career, my reputation
  • Forgetting how to use a camera: Self doubt
  • The Green Fairy: My creativity and passion, fueled by alcohol
  • The Attic: Striving for higher self awareness. Looking for enlightenment
  • The Scary Staircase: Fear of taking the next steps to stop drinking; to deal with the real issues
  • Missing pants: Absolute vulnerability. Exposing myself. The real self.

What do you think? Am I reading too much into this?

Re-reading everything above, I’m admitting everything that I already know.
And I know what that next step is.

It’s just getting over the massive fear of taking it.

Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


  1. I am lucky enough not to remember my dreams most of the time. The few that I do remember are always about things done to me in the past. Though there are mornings I shoot out of bed and can’t breath, so I assume I had a nightmare about something.
    So needless to say that I’m not much of a dream expert, but there is nothing wrong from what I read with the way that it was interpreted.
    15 mins at a time right

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG I dream enough for ten people and almost always remember them. They’re sooooo vivid. And, the more I write about them or jot down anything I can remember, the more I seem to be recall the dreams. There’s a lot to be learned about ourselves from them, I think. Maybe start writing down anything at all you remember about the dream as soon as you wake up, and over time you’ll be able to remember them more. I really believe a lot of the answers we’re looking for are stuck in our head somewhere LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m on just 3 meds 1 for fibromyalgia one for anxiety and then sleep. When I have nothing I usually stay up at least 3 nights in a row. I get a little loopy lol
        I take melatonin but it doesn’t always help


Let's talk...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s