Dream Chronicles – A History in Review

In Opinion/Personal, Personal on May 23, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I have decided to begin tracking my dreams.  I’m not sure I believe in the dream analysis stuff whole heartedly.  Obviously, events of a day can affect or lead to certain dreams and a part of me is aware that dreams can also indicate things in a person’s subconscious, but beyond that is questionable for me.  However, I have a long history with dreams – or better yet, nightmares and night terrors.  I feel as though revisiting my history with this issue may help me in understanding why it has begun happening again.

My first memorable nightmare was probably when I was around 3-4 years old.  All I can recall now is that I was running through pitch black nothingness trying to escape something.  The only thing I could see was an illuminated purple triangle moving through the dark and all I knew was that I had to stay as far away from it as possible.  I woke up thrashing and screaming and terrified.

I don’t remember any more of my dreams from that age range, but I’ve heard stories of my behavior while sleeping from my mother.  More thrashing, yelling, crying, kicking, punching, even sleep walking and trying to get out the front door of my house.  My mother was struggling to manage this and discussed it with my grandmother.  As I’ve stated before, I’m not a religious person.  When I was younger, I had the average misconstrued concept of religion that most children have when they are too young to fully understand the concept.  Everything from murder to smoking a cigarette was a sin and meant the devil was coming after you.  But, as I think I’ve already stated, my grandmother was extremely religious.  Her solution to my night terrors, which my mother agreed to based on the fact that nothing else had worked and she was at her wit’s end, was to put a pocket bible under my pillow.  My grandmother stood by her belief that this would help Jesus to protect me while I slept and fight off the “demons” that were creating these nightmares in my mind.  She also prayed over me to “rebuke” the evil spirits.  The older I got and more information I gained, I realized that this very much resembled a minor exorcism.  At the time, I didn’t think anything of it.  This was how my grandmother handled issues, by praying over the person to rebuke the evil that had taken a hold on them.  I don’t think she actually thought I was possessed, this was just how her church had taught her to pray for people with afflictions, even something as minor as a migraine.

So I laid still and quiet while I was prayed over.  That night, my mother put the small green covered pocket bible under my pillow before I went to bed.  That night, I slept throughout with no trashing, no crying, no fighting nonexistent monsters.  Perhaps my subconscious was at ease.  I was aware the bible was under my pillow and I never questioned my grandmother.  She believed this would take my nightmares away, and because she believed, so did I.

It was probably 2 months before I had another nightmare.  I couldn’t understand why they had started back again and upon flipping up my pillow, found the pocket bible was gone.  I was frantic, searching my bed, searching behind my bed.  I finally found it under my bed mixed in with toys and clothes that I had “cleaned up.”  I placed it back under my pillow and gave it no second thought.  Another several months went by without event.  Then one night I was awoken by another terrible nightmare.  I immediately stuck my hand in the small space between the bed and wall, searching with my stretched out fingers for the familiar patterned plastic casing.  I quickly found it, stuffed it back under my pillow, and fell back into a quiet and dreamless sleep.  This was the method I adopted for years.  After a while, I figured out that if I just put the bible inside the pillow case, it would prevent it from sliding out during the night.  Years went by with no more night terrors.

By the time I was in middle school, I didn’t even give it much thought anymore.  I hadn’t had a nightmare in so long, I assumed I had grown out of it.  That was something a small child deals with, not a teenager.  I removed the bible and placed it on my bookshelf, still not very far from my bed.  I still had dreamless nights for a while.  When I would have a nightmare, I would place the bible back in my pillow case for a few nights.  It was almost as if I was weaning myself from this process without even being completely aware.

The worst nightmare I had during my teen years is still as clear as if I had it last night.  Over the course of my 3 years in middle school, 2 students passed away.  One was a family that my family knew very well.  My mother and uncles had gone to school with the parents.  In a freak accident, their young daughter had been standing in their driveway with her father and was hit by a driver who had momentarily looked down into his floor board for a cassette tape and missed the slight curve in the road.  I attended her funeral.  Funerals in general are weird and uncomfortable and traumatic for me, but nothing compares to a child sized casket and a tiny little face outlined by pacifiers with hand written messages of love.  The second was a student my age.  I had one class with him, but had minimal conversations with him.  He was quiet and kept to himself, but seemed nice enough when you could get him to talk.  He and friend, who also passed away during this accident, were working on a car in his garage on New Years’ Day.  Unaware of a gas leak caused by their limited skills in car handiwork, they lit a heater in an attempt to warm up, which immediately caught fire to the entire garage in a small explosion.  I attended his funeral, as well.  It was closed casket, as he had been right by the heater when it exploded.  Again, funerals…but nothing compares to attending a funeral of a classmate in the gymnasium of the school you attend.  This leads me to my worst nightmare of probably my entire life.

In my nightmare, I walked into the gymnasium to take a seat with my classmates until out teacher came to take us to our classroom to start the day, as usual.  However, when I walked in I saw a lot of people didn’t recognize.  They were sad and all looking toward the opposite end of the gym.  I followed their gaze and found myself looking at a casket.  It was a child sized casket, but the person inside was no child.  It was a fully grown women in a royal blue dress.  She was displayed in a fetal position so her long body would fit into the length of the casket and she looked as if she had already begun to decay.  As I stood shocked and trying to make sense of this situation, I watched as the lady in the coffin began to stir.  Other people noticed, and within a couple of seconds she was sitting herself up and attempting to climb out of the casket.  Everyone panicked and began running past the locked rooms, down the Hallway of Death, as I called it, where photographs of all the students that had passed away while attending this school were hung in shadow boxes with little mementos, and into the main halls of the school.  People scattered throughout the small school.  I could hear screams and thumps of bodies.  I could hear the guttural snarling of the zombie lady following the crowd into the hallways and taking people down as she caught them.  I didn’t dare look behind me.  I ran as quickly as possible into my old history classroom.  Except now, the back and far wall were lined with one large fluid block of wood jutting from the wall, the most efficient use of space to install computers into the room.  The old computers my school had failed to ever update were sitting at even spaced intervals across the L-shaped desk and small blue plastic chairs were lined in front of them.  I closed and locked the classroom door behind me, then put myself in the back corner of the classroom under the computer desk and pulled the chairs in front of me in a miserable attempt to hide myself from view.  I saw the lady in the blue dress come to the classroom door, peering with her dead eyes through the rectangular window in the door.  She wiggled the knob, the busted the door in.  I could hear her breathing, grunting, watched her rotted legs moving stiffly and clumsily in black pumps as they  got closer and closer.  She knew I was here.  She was looking for me.  She shuffled around until she was only a foot away from me, separated by only the small blue computer chairs.  She knew exactly where I was.  This was it.  That was when I woke up, thoroughly freaked out, dripping sweat, out of breath, and feeling like my heart was coming out of my throat.  Even just making myself think about all the details of the dream to type it out in its entirety still makes my pulse quicken to this day, well over a decade later.

My next stepping stone in my dream history was when I was in college.  I don’t recall any more nightmares or dreams at all for a very long time.  However, during my freshman year of college, someone very close to me passed away.  I immediately made a connection to my dreams and feared the worst.  I knew I couldn’t handle having a dream about him.  Whether that dream be a nightmare and my loved one had taken the place of the lady in the blue dress, or whether it be just a dream in which his death had never happened, I knew that my conscious mind upon waking up would not be able to handle that.  I can remember laying in bed at night and repeating in my head, “Please don’t let it happen.  Please, no dreams tonight.  I can’t handle it right now.  Just no nightmares, no dreams, just sleep.”  I’m not sure if I was praying.  By this point in my life, I had gained quite a bit of knowledge on religion and wasn’t extremely fond of most of it.  My grandmother had been through her issues with her church members revealing their true selfish selves and learning that her pastor had been leading them wrongly for so many years, keeping them at each other’s throats and as uneducated as possible to stuff his own pockets with the money he had the caring people believing they were donating for good and for God.  All I knew was that I felt like going over this routine in my mind before bed may put some good vibes out into the universe to grant me my wish.  However, I also dug through my bookcase in my dorm room and found my trusty green pocket bible, slipping it again into my pillow case for the first time since I was in grade school.

I did not dream of my loved one.  Months passed.  I returned the pocket bible to my bookshelf.  Still no dreams.  I went through a period of depression, struggling a great deal to process this death and work my way through the grieving process.  I can’t say that one truly ever comes to terms with a loved one unexpectedly being taken away, but I suppose after several months I came as close to that as a person can.  I can remember the night that I really felt this change.  I laid down to sleep and felt more at ease than I had in a very long time.  There was still a pang of hurt inside, but I thought to myself, “I’m okay.  I’m ready.”  And I kid you not, that night I had my first dream in which my loved on was present, happy and healthy and walking down the hallway of his home toward me as I sat in his living room watching television, an event so common and normal and that had happened so many times in just that same way when I was younger.  When I awoke, I felt peace.  I was sad, as I knew I would never have that event in real life, but at the same time I felt like that was a sign to me that everything was going to be okay.

I had minor dreams since then, or weird random pointless dreams in which friends were present and nothing really eventful happened.  However, it seems that something has triggered it in me again recently, specifically within the last few weeks.   As I’m even older now, and have lost my old warped pocket bible in the numerous moves of my adult life, slipping it back into my pillow case is not really an option.  I feel that it is harder to believe for me now that this little flimsy plastic book has any mystifying powers to put my mind at ease, but I’m starting to regret not replacing it when it was lost, as I may feel the need to test the theory once more, after all these years, unless these dreams go away…


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