I had the uncomfortable recurring dream last night where I have gone back to the place where I never finished my PhD. I did my oral exams more than 15 years ago, and I passed. I taught for a couple of years, but I never wrote the dissertation. I just didn't want to spend any more time on it, knowing I would never get a real teaching job.
Well, in the dream I am back at school and I didn't pass a couple of the exams and that is why I never finished. Everyone else passed but I didn't. It was too hard for me. And I am reapplying to try to get back in so I can finish. I know that one of my old professors who liked me has died and I am hoping that one of the ones who didn't like me is gone too. I feel embarrassed and humiliated that I worked so hard and didn't pass the exams. I run into other students and they are teachers now. I wake up feeling bad about myself.
Sometimes its not until I have been awake for 15 minutes that I remember that I actually DID pass the exams and that I left of my own volition and just decided not to finish the degree. I could apply to go back and finish the degree if I wanted to. I don't know why this is so unresolved in my brain that I keep having this dream over and over. But every time its the same. I am walking around the campus and I have failed. Seems fairly obvious what it means.