Tag: bad dreams

My Other Life Keeps Calling

 grainy antique calling device

I have thought of writing a book based on my nightmares called The Nightmare Club.  Either that or I could take each nightmare individually and spin them into separate novels.  I call my dreams my other life because they are so unrestful and draining that often I wake up more tired than I went to bed.  And then I am haunted by them all day long.

Here’s a tidbit from last night that I shared on facebook:

Dreams featuring old boyfriends are unsettling. Nightmares in which I have to cut kittens’ ears off are horrible and also unsettling. Dreams in which old boyfriends talk about previous dreams in which they were featured is even more unsettling. I did not sleep well. My brain feels more asleep now that I’m awake than it did all night.

When I cut the ears of the kittens off I didn’t cut enough off but it was so dreadful to have hurt them at all and I knew it was something I had to do but I felt worse because I couldn’t remember why and it was pointed out to me that I hadn’t cut enough off but I couldn’t bring myself to hurt them further.

I may have mentioned the really bizarre dream within and dream within a dream I had a couple weeks ago but just for fun I’m going to recount a little bit of it again:

In my dream I was  sleeping and dreaming that I was sleeping and that dream of my sleeping self was also dreaming and she had a dream in which she had to go to the bathroom and she worried that if she dreamed she had to go to the bathroom she might actually have to go and if she didn’t wake up soon enough she might go in her bed.  The dream self of my dream self’s dream self did, in fact, poop in her pyjamas and so my dream self’s dream self woke up out of the embarrassing nightmare hoping to find she hadn’t also pooped in bed but she had, in fact, done the same so my dream self woke up terrified to discover she had too and, as you can guess, she did wake up filthy in her bed. 

I, the only dreamer left unaccounted for, woke up out of my dream and happily found that I hadn’t pooped in my bed nor did my body need to relieve itself in any way.  My heart was pounding but I fell immediately back to sleep to find my dream self seeking out a shower to clean up in and had the chance to discover that I (she, whatever) was living in a trailer on a little rectangular piece of land and I started mentally planning out a raised bed garden to grow food in because I didn’t have a lot but I wondered what I could grow in such a shady space and just as I was figuring this out I was in danger and I don’t remember more than tiny snippets of the rest of my dream that night.

My dreams are so powerfully connected to my waking self that it always feels as though I’m living two lives.  Nights with no remembered dreams are bliss.  Not all of my dreams are nightmares, strictly speaking, but nearly all of my dreams are disturbing to me.  I rarely have what I would classify as a “good” dream and often these are ones in which I feel completely safe, usually because someone is protecting me from something, so the dream might have been a nightmare if I hadn’t felt protected.  Truly good dreams are even more rare.  Happy dreams.  I have two main happy dreams (that aren’t marred by violence or anxiety or anything creepy) where I find antique stores that have not been picked over yet and I find lots of treasures or dreams in which I find amazing hats and clothes that obviously fit me.  The other mostly happy dream is when I return to 361 Scenic Drive in Ashland Oregon, my childhood home, and find 25 years of mail collected in the mailbox.  However, this dream is often shadowed in other parts, but the mailbox full of mail always makes me so happy and I wake having enjoyed my dream even if other darker things happened in it.

I have the nightmares regardless of what’s going on in my life and I have been having them steadily and frequently at least since I was 10 years old.  One thing I DO know is that they do become worse and more frequent the more I am exposed to the news of the world.  I believe that I have had much too much exposure to news through friends on facebook than is good for me.  I have stopped reading news links that friends share unless I think they will be uplifting in some way.  This is something I must work harder on.  But there are many things posted that you don’t have to click on to see that are dreadful.  One that is haunting me now is a picture of two teen boys holding up a dead puppy they had obviously strangled.  This kind of shit is candy for an already unquiet mind.

I don’t want to give up face book because I have so many happy connections there with friends I can’t see in my everyday life.  I love the casual chatter of face book.  But I may need to limit the time I spend there a little more than I do now.  I feel I must do this to protect myself from too much incoming stimuli of a negative nature.  I already hear all the voices in the world as a low buzz in my head that I can’t shut out but facebook lets a lot of extra noise in that is not healthy for me.

While I would like my dreams to take a happier turn – I must confess that if I didn’t dream as often and as vividly as I do I would feel that part of me had died.  I have become so accustomed to having bad dreams that I’m scared to wish them away – it’s like when you get used to abuse to the point where you can’t imagine a life without it and wonder who you would be.

It worries me that I think not having so many nightmares would make me feel abandoned and emptier inside.

My second life keeps calling me and I keep picking up the phone.

One good thing about all my dreams is that I am never fat in them.  Never.

It occurs to me that my dreams are the only place I can completely be myself – I don’t have to pretend to be other than I am or protect anyone from my own thoughts and fears.  Everything has full expression in my dreams and I am always my core self in them.  In my dreams the bad shit I fear is real and so I’m never crazy for fearing them and everyone else is experiencing the same world with me.

Perhaps the best thing about them is that no matter what happens in them I wake up and find I haven’t killed myself or been dismembered by a serial killer or been raped or cheated on my husband or lost my child or cut the ears off kittens.  There is nothing quite like living through a tsunami to wake up and discover that your house is dry and too far inland to be wrecked by one.

You might even say that my bad dreams are my real world and my waking life is just a good dream I’m happy to experience again and rest in after all the horrors of my sleep.

You might say that, if you thought I was really crazy.

In the Skin of Fourty Two

On Friday I turned 42 years old and celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary.

I have a lot of things to say but so many conflicting thoughts are vying for light and butting up through them all rudely is a carelessly thrust collection of dagger stabs from a stealthy source, the kind I can’t come out into the open to fight because they were so quietly laid into my skin.

I’m pleased to have turned another year older.  I am not afraid of age.  I’m not in great shape, it’s true.  Philosophically speaking, I like getting older.  I like the view from here.  I have never liked youth.  I don’t wish I knew then what I know now nor could any amount of money on earth tempt me to be young again.  Youth is a terrible joke on the soul.  At least it is on a soul like mine.  I have not grown more bitter because of age.  I have certainly grown more bitter because of circumstance.  That’s something I am working on letting go of.  Bitterness is one of those feelings that is only useful in transition.  It’s corrosive if left to sit and grow swampy in your heart or mind.  The moss it hangs in your body is a curtain of discontent that grows calcified the minute you give in to it and becomes bone.  Being older is not cause for bitterness but cause of perspective.  It has gifts and one of them, if you’ve made it this far, is that you’ve made it this far.

I’ve been having dreams lately revolving around stressful journeys where my luggage is always going missing and the traps to the body are many – a grassy field hiding a bog that one inevitably stumbles across, vicious wild dogs let loose by strangers, charlatans looking for the first opportunity to strip you of your freedom, and filthy broken over-flowing public bathrooms and porta-potties.  Always the luggage left behind and the broken filthy public bathrooms.  This theme has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Last night there were truck thieves stealing and hiding trucks and then selling us older more broken ones.  The feeling is of moving towards something worse and worse while hoping for better and better.  Not an optimistic sleep.

The dreams (nightmares) feel poignant.  Something of the truth is sleeping with me.  My sleep patterns grow more and more irregular as well.  I go to sleep early and can’t sleep even though I’m completely tired.  When I finally get to sleep I wake up at least 6 times a night.  I get tired of it by 5 or 6 AM and crawl out of bed completely awake and alert.  I work for a few hours, get my guys out of the house, and then at the ridiculous hour of 10 AM I take a two hour nap.  It’s not a question of keeping myself up to establish new patterns and get tired enough at night to sleep more deeply – I just HAVE to sleep in mid morning.  Or mid afternoon.  Whenever.  Nothing is settled.  Nothing is normal or fitting in any pattern.  I’m less bothered by it than I should be.  I’ve just been going with it.  My body is changing with my age.  We often see change as all bad unless it means we’ve just won the lottery.  I’m not attributing any value to these changes.  I’m not fighting them.

Though I know I’ve been a lot more depressed for a lot longer than I’ve liked to admit to myself and though wanting to sleep all the time is not how my depression has ever played itself out in the past, that’s a classic symptom of depression in others.

My body hasn’t been regulating it’s temperatures in any predictable fashion either.  For the last year this has become more and more noticeable.  I get hot and flushed after I eat a meal, actually breaking into a sweat at times.  I get overheated in the middle of the night and push my covers off only to discover that I’m freezing cold.  We had the heat on at a modest 62 degrees the other morning and I was uncomfortably warm while my mom was piling more sweaters on.  The next day I couldn’t get warm.

I believe that my body is getting ready to shut down the old reproductive equipment.  I’ve been looking forward to menopause for years.  I’m done with babies.  I have no need for baby making hormones.  I have no need for a period.  I’m done and ready to move on.  I’ve been done and ready for a long time.  I was ready the minute I had my sweet baby and knew I didn’t want another baby.  Still, I know the body has its own clock and you just have to wait.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s something else going on.  I’m not overly concerned either way.  I still go on the rag as regularly as Christians sin, so it’s early days.

This weekend I experienced some low points.  I know I’m dreadfully fat.  I know I’m a lush.  I know I have an unhealthy relationship with soft cheeses.  I know I’m mentally ill and can’t always help letting my petticoats show.  I know I’m full of faults.  Truly though, the one I think others forgive the least is the fault of being  so huge.  I hear it in what people say about others in front of me.  You may as well be telling me how you really feel.  I’m good at reading between the lines.  I’m good at seeing what’s underneath other people’s skin.  I’ve always been one to see the elephant standing in the middle of the room.

In spite of this, what I’m meditating on this evening is that I must have something valuable at any size because for every negative reflection of my obesity I see in the eyes of those around me, I also see a positive reflection of how I make other people feel.  I was reminded this weekend by all the well wishing and sweet comments by friends both old and new alike that no matter how deeply flawed I may be, I’m one hell of a lucky lady with so many people who find value and enjoyment in knowing me and hang on for so many years with their flashlights raising the dark.  So the daggers of those with small hearts fall short of their sheaths into the mud and I put bandaids on the scrapes and bruises they’ve delivered and feel my true fortune.

I have no expectations of what 42 will be like.

The universe keeps delivering what it will and I keep picking myself up off the ground and pulling myself out of the clouds trying to find that place of balance between dirt and sun.  I have only one directive for my spiritual growth this year and that’s to truly let go of the tenacious bitterness that ill-fortune has grown in my heart.  However small in the great scope of the world my own misfortune may be it has been a bitch to shake off my shoulders.  Much of it has come clean but there is a lingering aftertaste I haven’t been able to wash away.  Like birds that have been covered by oil in the ocean water, it takes a careful cleaning to groom feathers to fly again that have been plastered and stuck with black grease.  Patience and determination in the muscles that work against stain will bring heavy wings back to flight.

I have no expectations for this year.  I am focusing on and protecting hopes instead.

Happy birthday, self.  You came so close to killing yourself in 1985, but didn’t.  You cut yourself to ribbons for years and desperately wanted to die until you were 18 years old when you had an epiphany in which you realized that you’d spent five years fighting an intense desire to die and told yourself to piss or get off the fucking pot.  24 years ago you made a conscious choice to stop torturing yourself in place of death, you made a conscious choice to live.  The wish for death has crept back religiously over the years and you’ve strangled the desire each time before it could reach the surface of speech.

I’m not sorry I didn’t kill myself.  I’m 42 years old and it’s good to be alive.

Stockholm Syndrome for Dreamers

I think it’s uncool for meat-eaters to get chirpy and self satisfied when a vegetarian eats a piece of meat.  I can promise that this vegetarian will not be secretly loving meat nibbles ever.  But some vegetarians do slip up or indulge or fall off the wagon because most of them weren’t always vegetarians and meat tastes good to them.  There should be no war between meat-eaters and vegetarians.  There is no need.  It’s stupid.

Still, I have to admit that I’m prone to my own juvenile moments.  I’m sure if you’ve been hanging around this blog for long you’ll already be able to count many proofs of this on your hands, so I’m not going to give you more right now.  Let’s just say that it has been confirmed this week that a local person I knew didn’t like me doesn’t like me.  It doesn’t bother me because I don’t like this person either.  We were never friends and it’s pretty much a non-tragedy that we never will be.  I think we’re both pretty happy with this arrangement.  However, this person has actually snubbed me pretty sincerely and after quite a few snubs I finally gave up doing the polite, cause there’s only so many times you can bother acknowledging a person who pretends not to know you.  So I engage in some small wicked fantasies about a future in which things are different and I have the opportunity to very politely make this person feel like total shit for being a total shit.*

The point is: a very small number of meat-eaters are total shits who are waging a juvenile war against people choosing not to eat meat and I can point my finger all I want but I know I play my own juvenile games and so I think I’ll fold my finger right back up and redirect my attention.

I’ve been having lots of bad dreams lately.  I have spent a lifetime learning the subtle differences between bad dreams, disturbing dreams, and nightmares.  It really doesn’t matter what you call them unless you spend a lot of time in them because when you do you need a rating system to describe (even just to yourself) what level of fear or depression or horror you spend all your sleeping hours experiencing.  I wonder if I have a version of Stockholm  Syndrome with regards to my life of bad dreams and nightmares?  They have held me and my subconscious captive my whole life and at this point I think I might freak out more if they stopped than if I continue to have them the rest of my life.  More than that, I think I’ve come to think of them as part of the fabric of my being.  Who would I be without the haunting?  Who would I be if I had mostly good dreams or no dreams at all?  How would I take my own psychological temperature?  They keep me in a constant state of unrest and they chain me to themes I have thought I’d like to be free of.  But it has come to a point where this macabre landscape of desperate sleep is like a spiritual imprint.  A tattoo on the psyche that glows in the dark.

There’s a part of me that believes that all dreams are real in an alternate universe and if the nature of my dreams completely changed it would be like dying.  I don’t like the bleak borderlands of crows I walk in my sleep but I’m used to it in a way so that when I’m still walking them in daylight I know it’s my two lives crossing each other and nothing has been undone.

I’m trying to slow down the gears of preservation.

It’s been a phenomenally long day.  I’ve worked all day so I don’t have to work so much tomorrow.  I took a three hour “break” to make a double batch of corn chowder and slow roasted tomatoes.  It’s late and I must now commence “wind down time” which takes about two hours.  I can’t go from focused activity to sleep without a very long period of numbing my brain into enough stupefaction that it will accept sleep without demur so that I can launch myself into the road again to save an infinitesimal kitten and a stupid puppy both bent on dying and an old boyfriend who wants to play tennis while an old friend accuses me of stealing everything from furniture to cheese.

You have no idea how much anxiety those things caused me last night in my parallel reality.

Good night.  I hope you go to bright calm places in your dreams.  I hope you don’t see me in mine!



*Yes, it’s all cloak and dagger here.  Remember what a small town I live in.  A few of you actually live here too and I’m terrified that in spite of my careful vagueness you have already figured it all out.  But you can’t.  There are only two people who know the details and we’re very SPY.**

**Remember that many people in this town don’t like me and more than one person has snubbed me.  You are not SPY enough to dig my secrets out of my subconsciousness.***

***That is not an invitation to try.