Anxiety Dream | Losing a tooth
Back Story: This person (20/f) had this dream while working 60-hour weeks travelling across the U.S. as part of a disaster relief program. Click “Back Story” to see the original post at Reddit Dreams, where I’m the moderator known as “RadOwl.” Description edited for brevity and clarity.
I walk around a house with my volunteer team and find hidden doors. I walk through them, then keep going down hallways to the next door. Eventually I come across my boyfriend and we get into this huge fight. I look at his phone and he has been texting other girls, sexting with them and going out partying with this guy I can’t stand, which is out of his normal behavior.
Then I am in a car with him, crying and arguing, asking why he keeps defending that person to me and why he would be messaging other girls. He says I’m self-righteous and how dare I judge anyone. Then I ran out of the car and into this room surrounded by mirrors. My hair is messy and makeup runs down my face from crying. I am insanely skinny and as I look in the mirror I keep losing weight. Then I reach up because one of my teeth feels weird, as if it is falling out. I walk closer to the mirror and see the one of my teeth is turning black. Right as I barely touch it, it falls into my hand and my mouth starts bleeding.
I start feeling anxious and cry again. Then my mom walks up behind me and looks at me through the mirror, repeating, “We’ll will fix this, everything is going to be okay.” But I don’t feel okay, I am scared and hurt and can’t get out of the room of mirrors.
Finding hidden or secret rooms can be a dream’s way of saying it’s exploring things hidden from you or outside of your awareness. Or you are exploring newly discovered aspects of yourself. The person who had this dream is finding out new things about herself as she’s challenged by her job and the lengthy time away from her boyfriend. Hidden rooms can also be a way of symbolizing “hidden from yourself,” and the woman who had this dream appears to have things she does not want to acknowledge. She has a lot on her mind and isn’t thinking clearly.
The behavior of her boyfriend’s dream character is a projection of her feelings. It has nothing to do with her boyfriend, per se, and everything to do with her fears about what could happen since she can’t be around to give him the attention he wants and keep an eye on him. It’s a sign of symbolism when a dream character acts out-of-character from the person you know. The boyfriend-character is merely playing a role scripted for him by the dream-story. Her mind is filling in gaps with her worst fears by showing him sexting with other girls and hanging out with people she doesn’t like.
The dream dramatizes the situation to make her aware of how she really feels. She’s been too busy to process her feelings consciously so the dream does it for her.
Next, the dream shows her the source of her fears: personal insecurity. Mirrors are used to help us groom and see our appearance. They have a variety of symbolic uses based on those functions. In this dream, being surrounded by mirrors says to me that the dreamer is overly self-conscious about her appearance (why else would the dream have so many mirrors?). That idea is reinforced symbolically by what the dreamer sees in the mirrors: she’s a mess! That imagery can mean that her life is a mess, but I think the dream is saying that her self-image is a mess.
Now go a little deeper and consider the source of her anxieties lie in concerns about her appearance. It’s difficult for someone with no such anxieties to understand how deeply affecting and damaging they can be. Mirrors are the enemy for people who are deeply anxious about their appearance. Every time they see their image reflected back they wonder if something is wrong or out of place or messed up. In the dream her hair is messed up (which can symbolize her thoughts in disarray) and her makeup is running down her face (which can mean that the happy face she shows to the world is coming apart psychologically and emotionally).
I think all the details in that part of the dream tie together under the idea of anxiety. And what is she most anxious about? That her boyfriend will play while she’s away … and find another girl to love. Why would she fear that? Because of doubts about her worthiness.
The source of her fears go deeper, as illustrated by the mirrors showing her to be “insanely skinny” and still losing weight. This ties in with her eating disorder. Some people with eating disorders can never be skinny enough to satisfy their anxiety about their self-image. They waste away in pursuit of an unhealthy image.
The blackened tooth in the dream and it falling out after being touched. You can think of that imagery as a “sore spot.” It has layers of symbolism.
- It ties in with her anxieties about her appearance–a blackened tooth is a big blemish on the face.
- It ties in with her being unable to fully articulate her anxieties–teeth are in the mouth that speaks, and speaking is tied with articulation.
- It ties in with her pushing things too far–she’s pushing herself too hard, and I think she knows that the situation with her boyfriend is delicate, like the tooth.
- In the dream, she barely touches the tooth and it falls out. Think of that as a metaphor for a “touchy situation.” She fears “pushing too hard.” At the same time though, she fears losing her boyfriend.
- Losing a tooth in a dream can be summed up simply as losing something important. Ask the dreamer what’s important to her that she fears losing. How is it tied in with her anxieties about her appearance and her current situation in life? The answer is obvious (see #4).
- Expand further and consider the possibility for symbolism related to being out of touch with her boyfriend. When does the tooth fall out? When she touches it. Maybe she’d rather not know what’s really going on. Maybe she realizes how delicate the situation is. She’s almost powerless because she’s so far away. Something could be really wrong in her relationship and she knows it deep inside, but she fears touching on it because there’s nothing she can do at the moment in case things spiral out of control.
The presence of the dreamer’s mother points toward a solution. The dreamer told me that her mother helped get her life back on track and encouraged her to apply for a job with the disaster relief program. Her mother is a woman the dreamer knows who has a healthy self-image, a role model. The dreamer can learn from her how to overcome her anxieties and insecurities. When mom says “everything’s going to be OK,” what the dream means is the dreamer already possesses what she needs personally to overcome her anxieties and fears.
Anxiety dreams are common. Some traditions even go as far as to claim that all dreams are the result of anxieties. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think that anxieties show up often in dreams, and by understanding the symbolism the dreams can be used for personal growth and healing.
Further explore subjects and ideas raised in this dream: