I dream that Ric has removed our dining table. There has been no discussion, no explanation, just an empty space to mark his actions. Even in my dreams, I am asking questions: Is he having it repaired, or replacing it? Surely, not replacing, I think, as the table was his mother’s. I conclude that all I can do is wait and see.
The dream seems simple enough, and I could conclude that it is how I am feeling about Ric’s heart attack, but the symbolism of the table haunts me – I’ve dreamt of tables before, just not in this context. A table, I recognize, is a good object for discussion about the role of symbols in dreams.
Dreams use symbols and metaphors as a way to convey a multitude of meanings through a single image, in this case, the missing dining table. Tracking your own symbolic meanings makes for the best dream dictionary.
A table can represent many things: a gathering/ celebration, family time, negotiations, agendas. We talk about what we ‘bring to the table’, do business ‘under the table’, or take a gamble at the tables. King Arthur had a round table, signifying his desire to be a fair and respectful ruler. I have ‘tabled’ ideas that are not worthy of putting into print yet. All of these are considerations when examining the dream message.
More importantly, I need to look at what a table means to me personally, and to us as a couple. Since moving to our current home, we have only had one table (we downsized to a one bedroom cottage with a kitchen, dining area, and sitting room). That table, as I mentioned earlier, was inherited from Ric’s mom, and used to be her formal dining set. When I was first diagnosed with ME/CFS, my doctor recommended removing the table and replacing it with two Lazyboys, as sitting up to eat meals was too taxing on my system. Instead, my husband set up his home office there, rendering the table unavailable for family meals. Eventually, we built an office wall in the living area and the table became available again for family visits. Occasionally, we will dine together, at the table, but only when I am up to it. Although I can’t explain it, I like to have the table available and cleared – as if it is waiting for me – a symbol, perhaps, of normalcy and health.
While pursuing a divorce from my children’s father, I had many dreams about a broken table – warnings that the negotiations would not go well (and they didn’t). He just wouldn’t come to the table. Ironically, throughout our marriage, we never had a dining room table, so I set up a portable, fold out table when guests came – it was higher and narrower than a regular table, so somewhat awkward – reflective of how our visiting guests felt in our home (as they conveyed post marriage). At one point, I decided that we would never have a real table, if I continued to use the makeshift one, and on the very day I moved it out my parents arrived and announced they had just bought a new dining set and would we like their old one. It was a lesson in manifestation: if you want something, make room for it in your life.
So, with all this said, what could my dream be telling me?
Ric has removed the table.
Is he making room for something? Has he withdrawn and become inaccessible to me? Does this mean a certain topic is no longer up for discussion? Whatever his reasoning, he does it without talking to me first, leaving me powerless in the situation. This is not like Ric. His mind may be constantly running through ideas, but usually he at least shares what he is thinking before acting on it. We have not discussed changing the table.
Since his heart surgery, Ric has been understandably moody and depressed; it has been unsettling for me, not knowing what he may do next. Some days he is so withdrawn, I have to tiptoe around him, not wanting to provoke him. I wonder if he thinks about me at all, whose life has also been affected by this recent turn of events. In this context, the table being removed does represent the lack of communication between us. If this is so, what can I do about it?
So, I talk to him. He may not want to bring anything to the table at the moment, but what I have to offer is still in tact. I voice how difficult this time must be for him, having almost died, enduring five hours of anesthetic – living off machines – and facing the steep incline to recovery. All the while trying to continue to work and support us. We are talking. The table is not gone.
My speculations here assume that the dream is alluding to our marital relations: that Ric is Ric and I am me. The actor and the recipient.
What if Ric is also a symbol, and the ‘I’ in the dream is ego? Then I might ask myself, what part of me (represented by Ric) has removed the dining table, taking away my ability to ‘come to the table’, offer myself up, or host possibility? Possibly, the part that used to be so in charge, was reliable, trustworthy, and is now struggling to recover from loss? Whoa, can you feel the energy in this? I know this part intimately; it’s the me that ran the show prior to falling ill. Why has she removed the table? I’ll ask her:
Ego: Excuse me, former self, why have you taken the table away?
Her: You mean the table you only sit at when company comes?
Ego: Yes, that one, and well, it’s not fair to judge really. What have you done with it?
Her: Nothing really, I just wanted to clear the space.
Ego: And do what? Leave an empty hole in the house?
Her: No offense, but there is a hole here, with or without the table. I am drawing attention to it. Thought I might clean up the space, maybe make room for something else, or the old, if you want it back.
Ego: Oh, well, I don’t know.
Her: Thing is I can swap out the table for another but what you bring to it really doesn’t change.
Ego: Suppose not. I do like to have one though. I like to think I am ready to entertain, have guests at a moment’s notice. It’s a social thing.
Her: Not willing to give up on yourself, you mean?
Ego: Nor life. Not willing to give up on any of it.
Her: Good, then I can bring it back.
It was just a test, after all. The table stays.