I don’t have nightmares often. I can watch a scary movie and sleep perfectly fine. I may have trouble falling asleep, because my awake mind wanders back into that Hollywood movie world, but still no nightmares.
When my cousin was younger she had to be careful about what she watched. Even the slightest bit of scare in a movie would send her into a night full of terror. We watched “The Muppet’s, Night Before Christmas” and her sleep was interrupted all night long by the remembrance of each of the Christmas ghosts. I though it was funny then, when I hadn’t yet realized how differently people’s minds process things. Now I realize that it isn’t necessarily the scene in the movie itself, but more so what our minds do with it. Shape it, mold it, unintentionally forming it around our own world, making it relevant and alive.
I love to read. I will even go a next step and say that I would rather read a book than watch a movie. Movies are easy, relaxing, an activity that you can do with a lot of people, and that is why I watch movies now instead of read. But if I were alone and had a choice, give me a good fiction. Reading is better than a movie because my imagination is pretty large. When I read, my mind is constantly producing images and scenarios and playing the story out in a movie reel all its own. Even when people tell me stories, my mind is playing it out in skit format trying to make it more realistic. Maybe this is why sympathy and compassion come so easy to me; it’s easy to feel sorry for someone when I have watched the story play out so vividly in my mind using their narration.
I think what could be classified as a nightmare varies between individuals. I could have a dream that sends the rest of my day down a miserable and shaky path. You could have the same dream and be totally unaffected. Of course there is the nightmare of being chased by a murderer or any number of obvious nightmares, I am not talking about those. I am talking about dreams that feel real, where you wake up and it takes a bit to realize that it was not a reality.
One of the best dreams I have ever had was one of these, but it was the farthest thing from a nightmare. My grandmother died when I was 10, of cancer. I don’t have many memories of her, but the stories and pictures have given me a knowledge of who she was. Around the time of my wedding I dreamed I was on the back porch at her house with her and my grandfather. I was sitting down watching her, she was on a ladder painting or something and talking back and forth with my grandfather. I was watching her intently, knowing I shouldn’t be seeing her, because she is not alive. She climbed down the ladder and came to me and kissed my cheek and asked me how everything was going, she sounded so sympathetic. When she leaned in to kiss me, I could see her gorgeous cat shaped blue eyes, she was looking at me. Her beautiful blond hair was pulled up off her neck, she was stunning. It was like I was making eye contact with my grandmother, who has been gone for 12 years. We shared a moment, I knew I shouldn’t be seeing her and she knew I shouldn’t be seeing her. It was the oddest most surreal dream of my entire life and I woke up crying, literally with tears streaming down my face. It felt like I was with her, it felt like she was talking to me, it felt like my face was next to hers when she kissed my cheek.
A friend of mine has recently informed me of some marital problems. My friend’s spouse has actually left and papers have been signed. When my friend told me about it, I was on the verge of tears. I had seen their relationship grow as they got engaged and then married. For me as a newly wed, it has made it extremely difficult to see a couple only a bit ahead of me in their relationship end it so suddenly. It came as a surprise to my friend, totally unexpected. It has weighed on me fairly heavy ever since I found out and Brad and I have talked about it often. How do two people so in love end it over such things? How is one person so content and oblivious to how unhappy the other is? What can we do to keep situations like that from happening to us?
Well anyways, last night I had a horrible dream. I woke up feeling bad, and couldn’t figure out why. And then it hit me, my dream. I dreamt that Brad came to me, much like my friend’s spouse did. He told me he was unhappy, that he wished he had never married me, that he knew before we said our vows that it wasn’t what he actually wanted. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was distraught, broken. In my dream I was sitting there, I couldn’t move. The world was happening all around me, people were passing me by and I couldn’t move. My friend walked up to me in the dream and looked very tall and thin, face drawn and long, reminding me of the painting by Edward Munch, The Scream. My friend offered to help me, and told me that they understood and just stood there looking as lost and desperate as I felt. I can’t remember the rest of the dream. I just know that the tone of the dream was so heavy, the background of the dream was dark and depressing, so crushingly heavy that I woke up feeling it. And then Brad had his hand on my side and I remembered that he is beside me.
Waking up from dreams like those are difficult for me. Part of me wants to squeeze Brad with all my strength and tell him how much I love him. But then there is the part that still feels the dream and is afraid to touch him, because it all felt so real just moments before…and maybe if I touch him, he won’t actually be there and I will have to feel that loss all over again. But dreams are just dreams. My husband is as solid as a rock beside me, in love with me and happy to be with me. My grandmother is no longer alive, conquered by cancer before I ever really knew her. I am thankful for the “moment” with my grandmother, for the way it made me feel and I dread the next dream that my husband leaves me. But I have learned, reality will always overcome fantasy. When the dust clears, when the feeling lifts, when the alarm sounds time after time, there reality will be.