Wednesday, July 9, 2008
the stuff of nightmares
The first vivid dream I can remember happened when I was 4 years old. It was very soon before my dad moved out, and he had started rocking me to sleep in the living room every night (I think it was more for him than it was for me). He would always fall asleep before I did, but that was our routine and I think we both liked it that way. On one of those nights, I dreamt that I had been separated from my family. I walked for hours in a nightshirt, crying, stumbling through the woods behind our house, until eventually I came face to face with an enormous tiger. Through some hazy sequence of events, it was revealed that the tiger was actually my dad; he said that he had eaten the rest of our family, and if I wanted to see them again, I'd have to crawl onto his tongue and be swallowed, too. So I did. When I woke up I was staring into his sleeping face.
I've always had many, many more nightmares than regular dreams, and I've grown so accustomed to them over the years that I can often control the endings. If, for example, someone is chasing me with a knife, or a gun, or some other weapon (which is usually the case), there comes a point near the end (when I'm usually trapped against a wall, or I'm stuck running in place, etc.) where I can just stop, catch my breath, and realize that the way to make the situation disappear is to simply acknowledge that I'm asleep. I rarely have to fight back. The worst cases, not surprisingly, happen when I discover that I'm not the one in control after all. These always end badly.
I'd like to know about other people's dreams.
It's been this way for as long as I can recall, back to that rocking chair nightmare. Most of the time I don't realize how unsettling it is to others that I've just grown to accept my subconscious for the way it is. Really, what else can I do?
posted by anne on 7/09/2008