Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writer's Workshop Thursday

I'm trying to be a good little student and keep up with MamaKat's assignments. What a good idea! Seriously, I'd hand out assignments to everyone in the blogosphere, too, if only I could think of any. I guess that's why I'm the student, eh?

Anyway, one of the assignments was to describe a recurring dream you have.

Dreams, for me, have been both a blessing and a curse. I am one of those people who dream vividly, constantly, and creatively. I have dreams that have plots and subplots and endless lists of characters. I dream in crazy colors that I daresay do not exist outside my head. I am often somebody else in my dreams.

On the flip side, I have horrible nightmares. When I was younger, the pediatrician called it "night terrors". That's basically a sleep disorder in which you have non descript nightmares that are filled with a sense of panic. I would jump up out of bed (still asleep) and run, screaming through the house. I'd fall out of bed or crawl under the bed or into the closet and then wake up not knowing where I was. Most children outgrow night terrors in two years or so. I, on the other hand, am the only adult I know who still experiences night terrors.

I don't have the episodes nearly to the degree I did when I was younger. Mostly when I am stressed or anxious about something; usually no more than twice a year. The last time I experienced an episode was last November.

I was flying out on an early flight and I was a little anxious about getting up on time. Not to worry: I ended up staying up all night after my nightmare. I don't remember what it was about, I just remember waking up in the garage, trying frantically to open my locked jeep and screaming. I calmed down, got some water, and went back to bed. I awoke again, this time in the basement, squeezing myself into the space between the dryer and the wall. I again tried to go back to sleep. The third time I woke up, I was outside, running through the path in the woods and screaming. An hour and a half had gone by since I had first gone to bed. Lucky for me, no matter what time of day it is, if you channel surf long enough, you will eventually find the movie "Overboard".

As I said, I never really remember the dreams when I wake up in that paniced state. I do, however, have a recurrent nightmare that I've had since I was three years old. Given the premise of the nightmare and the actions I take when I experience the night terrors, I would wager a guess that I am dreaming of some semblance of my recurring nightmare. (Though many studies show that night terrors DO NOT occur during REM sleep) Whatever. I'm not a sleep scientest, just a poor sleeper.

I first experienced the nightmare when I was three years old. My dad worked out of town a lot and would come home on Fridays with presents for everyone. He came home this particular Friday after we had gone to bed. His presents that night were two quilted blankets for my brother and me. They had flowers and smiley faces and peace signs all over them. They were also emblazened with wierd, hippy-ish sayings: "what the world needs now is love", "where have all the flowers gone?", "I can't believe I ate the whole thing". He put the blankets on our beds and tucked them all around us. That night was the first time I had the nightmare. I blamed the blanket. I refused to have it on my bed until years later when I found it and thought it was cool.

In my dream, I am 11 years old or so. I am not me. I am a girl who is either a hippie or a gypsie or native American. I have long dark hair, almost to my waist. I'm wearing an embroidered peasant-style shirt, jeans and sandals. I have lots of beads and bracelets and necklaces on and random little beaded braids in my hair. I am at a flea market or fair of some sort. There are endless rows of tables where people have set up things they are selling. I get the feeling I have a booth, as well, but I am never in the booth in my dream. Instead, I am being chased.

I am being chased by a guy who looks a lot like Charles Manson (maybe I saw him on TV when I was 3?) I am petrified. I know I cannot let him catch me because if he catches me, he will hurt me. Maybe even kill me. I have to get away from him.

I run through the rows of tables in this dream, twisting and turning, cutting in and out of alleyways, jumping over boxes. He is right behind me, almost about to catch me. Then I lose him. Only to turn a corner and come face to face with him. I jump up on tables and knock people's merchandise around. I crawl on my hands and knees under tables, hiding under tie-dyed table cloths and tapestries. Sometimes I hide in empty boxes. Sometimes people at the flea market help me. Sometimes they don't even seem to see me.

Finally, I reach the edge of the flea market and I jump over the fence. I run across a field to a tower. Then I start climbing the tower. He's still chasing me! I'm climbing and climbing and the wind is blowing and my fingers are getting cold. I'm afraid I'm going to fall but I know if I don't keep climbing he'll get me.

Sometimes I have the dream all the way to the end, climbing the tower. Sometimes I wake up in the flea market. Sometimes the flea market is outside, sometimes inside. Sometimes my pusuer is alone, sometimes he has other men with him. Always, though, the sense of panic, the feeling of absolute terror is there. It's a horrible nightmare.

Luckily, despite my incident last November, I haven't had it in years. I've had people tell me I should try to analyze this dream and see what it MEANS. I gotta be honest, though: I don't think it means anything. I just think it's a dream about being chased. A ridiculously vivid dream about being chased. Fortunately, he ain't never caught me yet!


Anonymous said...

dreams are weird, huh? I had night terrors when I was little. I didn't get out of bed though. I'd just be screaming in my sleep and/or sitting up and with open eyes sometimes, but I was never awake and I never remembered doing it. What a mystery they are. I didn't do my "assignment", I deserve detention. lol.

spleen said...

I think dreams can be metaphorical for some other fear but it's hard to tell what message we're supposed to get. I seem to get recurring dreams of being chased by lightning or shrapnel from bombs exploding. I have no idea what that means! Obviously fear, maybe of not being safe or protected, or of being pursued? I dunno.

Waking up in strange spots after a night terror must be pretty scary.