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February 1999 Contest Winner: TMD
From California, USA
Dear Cyndi @ The Dream Emporium,
I've just recovered (now it's been about 6 months..) from a nervous breakdown I had (started 1.5 years ago..)
over the past few weeks, i've had a few dreams having to do with fish.. small fish in a home aquariam (i don't have an aquariam).
i get my fish food to feed them.. they are very hungry.. i haven't fed them in weeks, maybe months.. the fish come up to the surface.. sometimes they grab my hands... sometimes not. oftentimes, some of them fall out of the tank onto the floor - i'm grossed out by the thought of picking up a fish, even a goldfish, so i'm not sure that i put them back in.
last night, one of the fish, a bigger, silver warrior type fish, fell out and got cut in half. i looked for some paper or a net to scoop some of the smaller fish off the floor, but didn't get anything to put them back in.
there was also some worms, that started to take over the entire interior of the tank. it was gross. the water got lightly murkey...
i'm always surprised that the fish aren't dead, because whenever i got to feed them, i realise it's been forever since i've fed them. the tank is pretty barren - not lush.
any help is greatly appreciated.. your time talents and energies,
Comments: I think it's very nice of you to offer this contest, thank you!
Cyndi's Interpretation :
First of all, having gone through an emotional breakdown recently, you will want to keep in mind that this dream interpretation is given simply as ideas and suggestions to *consider*, and not as "gospel" or iron-clad advice of any kind. I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, and encourage you to share this interpretation with your therapist. (I give this disclaimer to everyone I give an interpretation to, by the way)Treat yourself with care because you are your biggest commodity in life :-)
Now, on with the dream interpretation...
You and I have a lot in common with this dream; it's very similar to a dream I had during a time of high stress in my life, except my dream was taking place in the house I grew up in, there were 2 goldfish jumping out of a fishbowl, and also a dusty black cat that were all ravenous & I realized to my horror that I had somehow neglected or forgot to feed them for a very long time.
First of all, an AQUARIUM represents a need for a calming setting or atmosphere in your life. Perhaps it is representative of the space you have reached already, and are working on making a more solid foundation, since you say it is a "small" aquarium.
FISH symbolize spiritual aspects of ourself, and in this dream they are letting you know they are neglected and must have "spiritual food" or nourishment for the soul. I'm not saying, "Go to church!"; I'm saying the part of you that is connected with your Higher Power (whatever the label or belief) or Higher Consciousness is starving for care...this is not an admonishment; rather, it is a clue to you that if you are wondering what steps to take next to get past any emotional blocks you are having, this is where to start. I would suggest exploring whatever things in life help you feel a closer connection with God/Higher Consciousness/Whatever label, and in this way you will find inner peace that will be a foundation for peace of mind so you can quiet the nervousness. You have already been working on this so this dream is a combination of showing you what you have been working on, and what to look towards working on next in your life.
WATER symbolizes the emotions. If the water is turbulent, that equals turbulent emotions. If it's murky, that symbolizes that you are confused or not seeing things clearly, and need clarification and to clean up the impurities (in the form of thoughts and the way you see things or negative thoughts) so you are able to see things for what they really are, and not "through a glass darkly."
The FISH GRABBING YOUR HANDS is a definite attention-getter, symbolizing how desperately this need for spiritual food is in your life (or past tense=has been in your life.) At the same time, this desperate need is hampering your productiveness because you can't very well supply this food if your hands are seized or captured! This is the block you may have been having, where you feel helpless and bewildered to know what on earth to do next, yet feeling paralyzed or blocked from moving forward.
FISH JUMPING OUT OF AQUARIUM, ONTO THE FLOOR : another symbol of desperate times calling for desperate (but so far perhaps, ineffective) measures, this is pointing towards the severity of the emotional turmoil and the need to escape it, even if escaping the emotional waters means immobilization or death. I speak of death in an esoteric sense...a deadening of the emotions which can happen after the frenzy of an emotional breakdown, when one reaches the near-catatonic state where they just don't feel or care about anything anymore. This is what is symbolized by the fish "jumping ship", so to speak.
A GOLDFISH : gold symbolizes great treasures within which manifest from your Higher Power's love for you; and fish are symbolic of spiritual food.
One example of how this symbolism is used is to think of the early christian symbol for Jesus : the fish, or Ixthus. The Greek word for fish is IXTHUS. Here is info I found about this symbol at a Christian website,
The Good Sheperd Lutheran Church @
I'm including it here as an example of how symbols are a part of our lives, whether we realize it or not.
"Christians saw in the letters spelling the word fish an abbreviation for:
Jesus (I). Christ (X). of God the Son (TH U). Savior (S)..
At a time during the Roman Empire when Christianity was illegal and Christians were put to death for practicing their faith, worship had to be held in secret places. A fish painted on the outside door of a house let Christians know that worship would be held inside.
Ever since, a fish has been one of many symbols to remind Christians of Jesus."
--Good Sheperd Lutheran Church--
Here is more interesting commentary on this symbol from the following website :
IXOYE Bible Study List Page @ http://www.proaxis.com/~westbrookr/ ,
these interesting facts about the fish symbolism and how it was utilized are mentioned :
"Due to often severe times of persecution, the earliest followers of Jesus adopted a secret symbol (the fish - Ichthys). When encountering another traveler on the road or another citizen of the city, a Christian would begin "doodling" with his walking stick in the sand. Eventually, he would draw the first half of the fish. If the other traveler saw this and used his stick to complete the fish, the two would know that the other was a Christian. Pagans did not recognize it but believers would, thus many an early Christian was able to discern friend from foe."
This is the actual symbol of the Ichthys:
Now, does this mean your dream's symbol is saying you must be of the Christian faith? No, it's pointing out a universal symbol of spiritual belief, without titles or name labels; but if you have a history of or are a Christian, this would certainly hold that dual significance for you, also. My guess would be that you do have a Christian background.
Also the FLOOR is a symbol for grounding and "getting your feet back on the ground," because even though it is hard to go through, the emotional breakdown is part of the healing process of facing your greatest fears in life and conquering them via the proverbial "trial by fire." This is hard for all of us to do, depending on our level of resistance to change; and once you make it past the illusions of your fears you will be more grounded and feel safe again. I believe you are already well on your way, and have the biggest hurdles behind you. Your dream points this out, as well as you yourself mentioning it.
BIG SILVER WARRIOR FISH : silver is a color symbolizing spiritual truth and protection, so think of this silver warrior fish as being your Higher Self connected to Spirit; your champion and protector. This is a big aspect of yourself, but you feel CUT-OFF from it, which is causing you stress and confusion. This feeling of being disconnected is an illusion created by fear. What are you afraid of? What causes you to go crazy with worry? What is the worst that can happen? Just answering these questions can cause anxiety, so go easy...you may already know the answers, but you need to realize that the part of you that is screaming, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!" is irrational and although it operates out of a desire to protect you, it is actually like a little child who doesn't know any better and so therefore, cannot guide you out of this emotional mess. You have to stop listening to irrational fears and depend more heavily on that part of your Self which is connected to Spirit and therefore has real protection for you. It will lead you to take a "Leap of Faith" in your life, to show you that you can overcome your greatest fears not by running away from them, but by facing them and working through them to realize they don't have the awesome all-consuming power you feared they did...you are stronger than you realize when you reach this level of awareness.
Also, I noticed that your dream character watched the warrior fish fall out and cut in half, but then instead of going to it you started trying to pick up the smaller fish. This is like a dramatic "HELLO?! NOTICE ME!!" bid for attention.
REPULSION TO PICKING UP THE FISH : this is showing you that your fears are really doing a number on you, to the point that you don't even see past the superficial fears and leave the strong need for spiritual food go unfed and un-nourished. You won't rescue or see to this need because you feel cut off from these aspects of yourself, and therein lies the paradox, and why you feel torn apart. You need to make peace with yourself, and rescue the parts of your Self which are in such emotional turmoil that they are cut off from you. This calls for a need to learn to love yourself, for who and what you are. Know that there is a reason for all the turmoil, and that even though you may be unhappy at not being stronger, this is a process you are undergoing so you CAN have success and be stronger. Everybody has a proverbial cross to carry, and you should not treat yourself dispassionately or with cruelty...imagine this part of yourself as a little child, begging for help...would you abandon her? Would you save her? If not, why not? Once you find the answers to those questions, you can determine that your fears are not as powerful as you have been afraid of, and you ARE capable of moving past them and realizing your true strength!
WORMS TAKING OVER THE TANK : worms are symbolic of those parts of Self which you don't like, and feel aversion to in some way. You are not seeing their true value and appreciating their contribution to your life. Worms are actually very helpful to the environment, and take garbage and create nourished fertile land where growth can take place. Don't be afraid to see your true potential, here. See your real inner beauty, and don't shun this part of yourself. You aren't repulsive as you may fear you are, so don't be afraid to look at this part of your Self. By facing this part of yourself and seeing your true merit, you can lovingly accept and merge these aspects together and feel more whole and complete, and less torn apart emotionally. So, that would be my suggestion on what to start working on, if you haven't already. Think of this dream as a progress report and helpful clues to point out areas to work on, and NOT an admonishment or something to feel neglectful about.; rather, it is pointing out ares that need your attention. The BARREN FISHTANK is a symbol of this need, and the recognition of your "worms" value and contribution to your life are what is needed to renourish your inner environment...so embrace your inner worms :-)
Now for my usual disclaimer....please take any interpretations as suggestions to sift through and "try on for size," and only keep what seems to "fit" in your situation. If it feels true to you, go with your intuition. If it doesn't feel true, or off-kilter in some way, then explore further for answers that do seem to fit. It might take several re-readings to understand the concept of this interpretation, so just let it sink in. My interpretation isn't meant to be therapy or professional advice, but I sure hope it helped you in some way or gave you new ideas to think about.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you remember something else from your dream. Ultimately, each individual dreamer must decide what their own dreams mean. Please do not take anyone's word as "gospel" if it doesn't feel right to you, whether they have a PH.D or all the experience and fancy titles in the world. If it doesn't hit the mark for *you*, then it's not for you. You'll know.
Please let me know what your thoughts are on the interpretation. I appreciate your feedback.
Ok, TMD; that's it! I hope you found it helpful in some way. Please let me know? Thank you for entering your dream into The Dream Emporium Contest, and congratulations on winning!
Wishing you enlightening dreams,
Here is TMD's Response:
How very kind and lovely of you to respond to my dream interpretation request.. I am grateful for winning your contest. Please use my dream and initials TMD if you'd like.
Yes, I am a Christian woman.. and I have felt that this.. wait, not felt... thought, because I am coming more from my head these days than my heart.. I had thought that the fish environment is directly connected to my Spiritual practices (or lack thereof).
You had many wonderful insightful meaningful and specific ideas and I treasure your time energy talents! I would like to write back in the (near) future... after giving the information (and thanks for that animated fish gif wow!) its due attention. Could this be a call from God to look to Him? I DO feel like such an emotionally wounded child (I was responding in this way for 1.5 years) and I'm yearning to pull out of that.
I'm not sure how. How can I feed my fish? Perhaps these are things you would have some insights on. Certainly daily prayer/meditation is the best place to start.
Many thanks. Peace love light truth and trust to you and to all you meet on the journey.
Here is a partial reply back to TMD, in reference to her questions on how she might reconnect with her spiritual nature. I'm including it for others who might be interested.
I'm glad you found your dream's interpretation pertinent to you; that's
what I hope for.
You asked what specifically you could or should be doing to "feed your
fish"...you can find the answers to your questions via your own dreams,
for starters. As you can see from this one interpretation, your dreams help guide you and let you know where you are on your path, as well as how previous matters & incidents as well as choices you've made, have affected you.
Where have you found inspiration before? I've found I feel much closer to God when I get away from other people and go within, introspectively speaking; and search for meaning and inspiration in my life. I'll list things I've found helpful, and hopefully you will get some ideas from them.
I find inspiration through talking to like-minded people who have open minds and practice unconditional love, by visiting websites that have positive quotes and collecting ones that have special meaning for me. I read books that address issues in my life that I've had trouble dealing with or overcoming, to gain new insight so I can grow in understanding.
I try to cultivate friendships with people who have a way of looking at life that I may not fully understand, but admire and wish to emulate, so that I may learn from them. I join newsgroups or email lists that have people in them that are searching for similar things in life, as I am...so that we can share viewpoints and learn from each other.
One I have stumbled upon while looking up something else is this one: "Psych Central" , a chat room on the web that has other people online dealing with their issues, where one can find support at all hours:
I haven't tried the above out yet, but it sounds interesting and I've bookmarked it.
I rent, buy or borrow videos such as the "Miracles and Other Wonders" series with Darren McGavin, watch shows like "Touched By An Angel" and any other shows about angels, self-help and uplifting programs. When feeling especially vulnerable, I try to keep away from news in any form, subscribe to "Positive Thoughts for the day" to receive daily in my email for a lift, and focus on positive, positive, positive. I try not to fall back into the bad habit of allowing negative thoughts about myself anymore (I'm getting better at that, anyway) and look for meaning and inspiration everywhere in my life, no matter how trivial. This is how I feel my connection with God.
I find whatever I can that will trigger my sense of humor. I know I'm ok if I can still find something to laugh about, no matter how low I'm feeling.
I keep a favorite book of positive quotes by my bedside. "A Guide For The Advanced Soul--A Book Of Insight" by Susan Hayward. It's a personal fav that is full of many gems.
Hazelden @ http://www.hazelden.org/ has some great daily inspiration books, commonly used for 12 step programs; I don't have a dependency problem (well, not alchohol or drugs, but I've had previous co-dependency issues, plus I'm an Adult Child Of an Alcoholic (ACOA) but found they have great books that are filled with daily inspirations and positive thoughts.
I also find that oftentimes the simple things are the most healing...such as creating an area in or around my home that is like a little garden for the soul, where I plant flowers and put a little water fountain out that I can listen to, and watch the birds eat the food we put out for them and take baths in the bird bath, the squirrels running & jumping through the trees, and things like that. I am a sensitive type who gets rattled & lose touch with my spiritual nature if I'm around too many distractions that keep my mind on negativity instead of spirit, and getting back to nature in a peaceful quiet environment works wonders in a soothing way. I also have a sound machine by our bed that plays soothing ocean waves, to help us sleep better. Sleep is vital for healing one's emotions.
Let's see...what else...(as you can probably tell, I've had my share of emotional turmoil so I'm an old pro at this, LOL) oh! I have found several quotes that really "spoke to me" about where I am in my life right now, and I repeat them to myself often. I think of them as my "mottos" in life. They are: "Everything happens for a reason," "What you resist, persists" and "The Fates lead him who will; him who won't, they DRAG!" ...I am a stubborn Taurus by nature, so I've often had to be dragged kicking & screaming into any spiritual enlightenment I've found in life, and now I remind myself to accept that gentle tap on the shoulder that it's time to learn a lesson, to avoid the oh so painful dark-night-of-the-soul dragging! Maybe you've reached a similar point in your life, too. If you are interested in reading a small collection
of my own favorite quotes, you can find them here:
Leap Of Faith Webpage
I started the above page when I was new on the WWW, then I stumbled upon webpages that had hundreds and thousands of quotes, and the wind kind of went out of my sail, ha ha. I should get back to it though, because we all stumble upon something different and at varying times in our lives, so every little positive bit helps, don't you think?
Music...uplifting music that carries positive messages or thought-provoking, spiritual growth messages. I've been suprised how many of my old favorites that I never even thought about as I sang along, have a suprisingly insightful message within the lyrics. One that comes to mind is by Supertramp, called "The Logical Song." Music lyrics also help remind one that we aren't alone in our difficult moments in life...so many songs have been written about heartbreak and joy. It helps to be reminded that we aren't the only ones having a difficult go of it sometimes.
I treat myself like my own best friend. I learned that I was hurt most in my life by my *own* rejection of myself. I shunned other people's negativity because it seemed to act like a boomerang that I unconsciously turned inward, and thought even worse of myself. This damaged my self esteem terribly, and I'm still trying to come back from years of self-abuse in this manner. Now, when I'm feeling low, I don't always look towards someone else to be my rescuer or "knight in shining armor"...I do it myself! I'll buy myself a beautiful flower (or bouquet if I can talk myself into it) just for "me", to remind myself that "God don't make no junk," and that I'm a wonderful person who deserves recognition and celebration.
I may write out a list of things that I do well or ways in which I help other people, which is one of the best ways to get out of depression. Helping others will always make you feel better...you could create a website that has your favorite quotes that have helped you, with a book or video list or any number of things that make you feel happy just by visiting.
I remind myself of all my blessings to be thankful for, and treat myself to something nice that will make me feel good...whether it be a book I've wanted, a CD, a visit to a favorite shrine or park; renting a favorite uplifting movie (ever see "The Neverending Story"? Wonderful spiritual messages in that children's movie) or do things that I would do for a friend who was feeling down...how have you cheered up others? Do that for yourself! Be your own best friend. Hey, nobody knows better than you how to cheer You up, so it's a shoe-in! Buy yourself a balloon, send yourself a card, buy yourself a teddy bear to hug. Learn to love yourself. That alone will make you a better & more complete person...it's not an arrogant thing to do; it's healthy.
Do you have any favorite authors you've been helped by in the past? Perhaps they have some new books out, or many of them are now doing videos which I love to watch! Here is one ditty I've been referring to lately:
The Rules For Being Human
1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be
yours for the entire period this time around.
2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time, informal
school called life. Each day in this school you will have the
opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think
them irrelevant and stupid.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of
trial and error, experimentation. The "failed" experiments
are as much a part of the process as the experiment that
4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be
presented to you in various forms until you have learned it,
then you can go on to the next lesson.
5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that
does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are
lessons to be learned.
6. "There" is no better than "here". When your "there" has
become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that
will, again, look better than "here".
7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate
something about another person unless it reflects to you
something you love or hate about yourself.
8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools
and resources you need; what you do with them is up to you.
The choice is yours.
9. The answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie
inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
10. You Will Forget All of This (Some of the Time).
On the flip side, here are....
The Rules for Depression
1.Try to be PERFECT.
2.Be very critical of any mistakes or failures you might make.
3.Do what you SHOULD do, even if it is not what you want to do.
4.Always do what you are supposed to be doing.
5.Make other persons happy at any cost to yourself.
6.Work hard at pleasing your most severe critic.
7.Know that if you don't please, the other will reject or leave
8.Never make a mistake.
9.Live alone and have few friends.
10.Keep your failures, mistakes, errors and faults to yourself.
Never let anyone know of them, because you never want
anyone to know how bad you really are. Keep your secrets
11.FEAR the future, because you know it will turn out bad.
12.WORRY about how bad it will be.
13.With such an awful future, try to be in control as much as
possible. Knowing you are not in self control, seek to control
others and events.
14.Knowing how you really are inside -- your secret self -- never
listen to or accept praise or compliments. They will just make
you big-headed and egotistical.
15.Recognize the true importance of a negative interpretation
and be certain to always emphasize the negative, and
generalize it to yourself whenever possible.
16.Avoid any awareness of how your negativeness affects
others. You have an important role to fulfill for them, and
they need your realistic balance.
What's that? You've got the 'Rules For Depression' down to a science, huh? Ditch 'em, and grab up the 'Rules For Being Human,' instead!
Books I recommend:
If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules : Ten Rules for Being Human,
As Introduced in Chicken Soup for the Soul
by Cherie Carter-Scott
(as in the above list of Rules for Being Human)
One Day My Soul Just Opened Up : 40 Days and 40 Nights Towards Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth
by Iyanla Vanzant
(**please go to
and read all the reader's comments...it will make you want to buy this book! I've seen her on Oprah and she's superb. Same for the above book by Cherie.
One of my own personal favorites is DARE TO BE YOURSELF by Alan Cohen. This is a truly remarkable book. I highly reccommend it. It's one of those rare books that one comes across once in a blue moon, that is an easy yet profound read that sticks with you. I've heard his book, "The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore" is excellent, also.
In case you are interested, other books & movies, etc. that are my personal favorites are listed on the following webpage:
ZenCyn's Personal Info
If you have any ideas to share, I'd also love to hear them, what helps you feel better, and maybe share some of your favorite quotes that you come upon? Maybe I'll add a page of these ideas, so others who are having low moments can get a lift. I'll put that on my procrastinator's list of 1 million things to do.
Meanwhile, keep listening to your dreams, and soon you will realize that God has been with you your entire journey, especially when things seemed the darkest and you couldn't feel Him near. This is a call for faith...you can't feel His presence while giving in to despair, because God isn't a part of despair--the evil side of life is, helped along by our fears and doubts...so all we see is the illusion our fears have created, and not the Light. Once you make it through the "dark night of the soul," you will find He's always been with you; you just couldn't see Him or listen to Him because you were already listening to negativity/evil.
My view of Satan or evil is all negativity and fears; anything that keeps us apart from God. I personally don't buy into the pitchfork cartoon, so please don't think I'm saying demons are following you around or anything like that! This is just my personal viewpoint; yours may be entirely different since we all have different experiences in our lives that create our beliefs.
Ok, I've practically written a book here...I hope you find it helpful and that it gives you a little boost with new ideas to get started with.
Good luck, and please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing, and if you come up with any more insights after pondering the dream interpretation for awhile? Thanks!
Wishing you enlightening dreams,
Dream Interpretation Service
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