Is there any feeling worse than waking, in the middle of the night, from a nightmare?
I don’t know about you, but that gasping, frozen-inside feeling is hard for me to shake. It follows me out of bed, through the house to the coffee pot, into the shower. I jump at small noises; I bump into normal things, like door frames, and think that they’re the boogey-man, finally come to collect his due from under my childhood bed. No matter how hot the water or how sudsy the soap, I can’t wash it away.
Two cups of coffee (and an illicit, forbidden cigarette) later, my heart rate is more normal. My eyes feel less gritty. But my day feels dirtied, tainted by the brush with whatever it was that I was dreaming and couldn’t escape.
Psychologically, I know all about nightmares. Don’t let’s forget the quantities of counseling I’ve undergone! I know that they are your mind’s way of processing information that didn’t get sifted, cataloged, and stored in the appropriate box during the day, as are all dreams. I know that anxiety dreams are precisely that, and commonly, the nightmares of adults are some variation on anxiety dreams. As if, once we reach a certain age, we somehow are too intelligent or mature for “nightmare” to be the appropriate term.
Bois and grrls, ladies and gents, I have nightmares. Sometimes terrors. I’m neither too old nor too proud to admit it. I woke at 3:08 AM today from the grips of a doozy, and it took me approximately seven seconds to decide that additional sleep was beyond my grasp.
From the distance of my third cup of coffee, I can think back to what I remember of the dream. (And why is it I remember the nightmares much better than I do the pretty pink and blue dreams? Seems unfair.) I can identify the moving parts that came together in that horrible symbiosis of the things I fear and the things I can’t control – and aren’t they so very often the same things – and I can pull them apart and deal with them individually. That doesn’t cure the ick clinging to my heart from the images my brain put me through, but it helps.
I can tell that the part of my dream where Sharkman got shot in the left wrist, and I had to pull out the bullet and stitch him back together was probably driven by the fact that he slept away from home last night, on a school night. That’s only happened a handful of times in his entire eleven-and-a-half years on this planet, and I don’t like him being outside of our routine and someplace where I can’t personally keep him safe.
I can tell that the part of my dream where Rhett and I were hiding, unable to get away from The Big Bad, was probably driven by nerves about buying a new vehicle this week – two long months before we were planning to start that particular process – and the fact that we’re relying on a rental car until that happens. Nothing like being literally stranded to force your brain into scenarios where you’re unable to get away!
I can tell that the part of my dream where all I could do was react to all the horrible things happening around me was triggered from the lack of control I’m feeling.
All that means, kittens, is that the dream sucked.
So I got up, and out of the dream, and scrubbed my skin raw in a too-hot shower. I’m purging with caffeine, and waiting for the last tentacles to unwind.
I think nightmares are the night version of bad days. Somewhere, in this contract we have with life, there’s fine print that includes the terms and conditions of getting the good days (or dreams), but you have to pay the fee. Call it the fates, the universe, the gods, God, or karma, but there’s a price tag attached to everything. I don’t mind paying the toll, but I do wish it were spelled out a little more clearly somewhere.
Strange for a breaking-the-silence post, maybe, but if I’ve learned anything in my months of being muzzled, it’s that life goes on. Whether or not you’re ready for it, braced for the twists and turns, it drags you along for the ride. This is where I am today, and who on earth knows where I’ll be tomorrow? For now, I have to blow out my hair, get dressed, drive 90 miles to pick up my Momma for surgery (outpatient, nothing too serious, thanks for asking), call to find out if I can keep my rental car for another few days without having to stop for arm-and-leg-amputation, and make some feeble attempt at being a civilized human being on five hours of sleep and far too much coffee and stress.
Happy Monday, dahlings. xoxoxo