Wanting to be Alone and Together: A Paradox5 min read

My dream residence

I have had a recurring dream since I was a young child.  I dreamt it quite often between the ages of about 8 to 14, and I still think about it occasionally.  It’s only recently however that I’ve reflected upon what this dream actually says about my psyche.

The dream goes something like this.  I own a large building, which looks kind of like a hotel.  It has many stories, although I only ever seem to use four of them plus the roof.  The property is surrounded by an expansive gate, which doesn’t allow anyone to get too close without me buzzing them in with the intercom.

For the most part, the guests who arrived were kids I knew from school and other activities.  As I grew up, they continued to represent whichever people were in my life at a given moment.

At the entrance, I have staff who check people’s identify as they pull up at the front door, and make sure they conform to my dress codes, before allowing them inside the building.  Upon entering, they can ascend to the 28th floor, which is 3 floors from the top.

The 28th floor is the “party floor”.  There are lounge areas around where people can sit, there’s a dance floor, and there’s some upbeat but tasteful music playing in the background.  My staff are on-site to see to all my guests’ culinary desires and other needs.  I rarely descend to the 28th floor personally, except once in a while to see how my guests are doing.  It’s rare that I want that kind of stimulation, but I at least want to have the option.

The 29th floor is what I call my meeting room.  This is a quiet subdued area, where I serve snacks and drinks.  On a case by case basis, I can make announcement over loudspeakers on the 28th floor, and invite select people to come up to the 29th floor to meet me.  Here I will socialize with them, have conversations, and put on movies and sporting events.

Finally, the 30th floor is my private room.  Nobody is allowed up there except me, and occasionally my best friends, but even then it is only for a short time.  I need it to be fully private without intrusion, a place I can always go to escape the people and noise of the floors below.

I have a kind of “sensory room” which is sort of like a giant shower.  When you enter inside, it’s like going into a rain forest, except one that is also chilled.  The atmosphere feels humid and hot like a rain forest, but there is constant rain pouring from the roof which is chilled so that you always stay the perfect temperature.  I have furniture in there which is covered in waterproof coating.  I have canopies so that I can just sit in there and feel the storm around me without actually getting wet if I want.  The lighting is subdued so that it’s just light enough to see, and I can set it to any colour of the rainbow.

I have another room where you can feel weightless and float around, and also a room where you can feel compressed between two enormous cushions.  There’s also a room which is kind of like a forest of different textures, where every tree has a unique texture that you can push up against to get whatever kind of sensory input you need.

It was very rare that I would invite other people into my sensory rooms, but on occasion by dearest and closest friends would have that privilege.

Incidentally, the 27th floor just has bedrooms where the guests can retire to if they get tired.  That rest of the building is mostly other bedrooms, plus some apartments for other members of my family.  We can use the elevator to visit each other whenever we feel like it, or stay on our own floor and pretend the others don’t exist.

The thing that I have since realized about this dream, is that it says a lot about my relationship to society and other human beings.  I also think it is demonstrative more broadly of the Autistic psyche.  It is a paradoxical desire to be alone and with other people at the same time.  The idea of having a whole floor full of people, while I am safely two floors above them, is an incredibly appealing idea to me.  The idea that I have all these people present, and I can pick and choose whom I want to meet on the middle floor at any time.  At no time am I forced to be with them, yet I can freely observe them, and interact with them at will.

Yes, perhaps it sounds a little creepy, but I have never felt any ill intentions towards these people, nor had any desire to violate their privacy or hold them captive.  I was simply providing them with the best possible night life in town, and conveniently giving myself the chance to make friends on my own terms.

A big challenge I’ve always had with making friends, is that as much as I want to meet new people, I don’t want to go to the places where large groups of people congregate.  As much as I want to interact with others, I want to do it in a safe environment where I always have the ability to back out to my private space if necessary.  I want to talk to people one-on-one without he hassle of group conversations, so being able to page specific people at will and call them up to my meeting floor fulfills that need.

I think my dream reflects my paradise where I can do all these things.  And although my dream can never be reality, understanding that it is more than just a desire to own a huge building, but rather an insight into how my mind works, I can use that to my advantage when trying to meet new people.  I could never set up such a perfect environment in reality, but it at least gives me a blueprint for what I should strive for on some abstract level.

For example, when it comes to group conversations, I’m not going to stop trying to improve, but I also feel I should allow myself the chance to socialize on my own terms, and try to arrange private meetings with people instead of talking to them at a larger gathering.

The conclusion that I’d like to leave with you, the readers, is that maybe you have held answers to yourself in your dreams as well.  Think back to your recurring childhood dreams.  What do they say about you?  What lessons do they contain?  What is their relevance to your life now as an adult?  Do they perhaps hold insights into how your subconscious really wants you to operate?

Jeremy

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Jeremy is a Canadian autism self-advocate. He is a fan of all things transportation, especially passenger trains. He works in a technology field. He is passionate about making the world a better place for autistic youth and adults alike.

10 Comments

  1. Sounds nice to me.  My paradise would be on a beautiful plot of land with assorted cottages, common areas, private gardens, secret trails leading to waterfall pools, etc…same paradox, different venue, lol. 

    1. Author

      Sounds wonderful!

  2. You have recurring dreams?  I always just get incredibly weird one-off dreams.  Not sure what dreaming about teaming up with Tony Stark, Harley from Iron Man 3, a Transformer, and a random dryad says about my psyche.

    1. Author

      I have one-off dreams too, but some of them are recurring and have kept coming back for a longtime

  3. This sounds like paradise to me.  Thank you for sharing it.

  4. I have the dilemma of wanting to be on my own whilst in a relationship.  My partner does not understand this and it causes lots of friction

  5. I’ve had a very similar fantasy, though I don’t think it was a dream – I don’t really remember my dreams, and when I do they’re rarely so detailed.  I think I was just asked to describe an ideal home, and I thought a giant hall on the first floor with, like, a wizard tower rising from the center.  I’d provide everything everyone needed to come stay in the hall, celebrate, connect, etc, and I’m come down and hang from time to time.  I’d let some people up into special rooms in the tower, but the peak would be reserved for me and I would spend most of my time there.

    But yeah – this feeling of having people near without having them too near, it’s exactly right.  It’s complicated, huh?  <3

    1. Author

      Yeah that does sound similar, it’s a very enticing idea.  I call it a dream, but it’s hard for me to distinguish between dreams and fantasies, because I tend to think about them when I’m asleep and awake.

  6. The place you have created in your dreams sounds like a “dream” to me!
    I understand and empathize with all of your statements in this article.
    What a fantastic article!

    1. My recurring childhood dream is mired in fear and trauma.  TW – scary dream
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      It is a dream of falling and waking up just before I hit the ground.  Every time I woke up I was so scared that at some point I would hit the ground during my dream, and what would happen to me then? 

      At one point I did start to hit the ground in my dream.  It was horrible in sensation but I lived.  I was damaged but I got up and carried on.

      After I hit the ground in the dream, it kept happening every time I had the dream.  And I kept living through it.  In pain, but yet I lived.  Intact physically.  Scared, but still alive.

      Your question about childhood dreams has given me a lot to think about.

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