It's a little weird when you go outside and meet other people. Because everyone seems so very normal. Nobody mentions the soreness that they feel. They never talk about the unease at the back of their mind. All these little nagging realities of existing are locked away from most conversation. These weaknesses are hidden and at times outright denied. I've always wondered what sort of life I'm witnessing. What experiences have made this person into who they now are? Because I know for me I've got a handful of moments in my life that were, in some ways, very critical in the shaping of who I am.
When I was very little, as far back as I can remember, I didn't like bathing. You might have kids that are like that, or have been one yourself, but I wonder if your rationale was the same as mine. You see, for me, bathing came right before one of the most traumatic experiences I'd be having on any given day. It came before sleeping.
Routinely, and without exception, when I nodded off to sleep I would be entering into rolling nightmares as a child. Many of them were recurring to the point that perhaps I'll go over a few in a future blog. These events burned themselves into my psyche while technically never truly having happened. I guess you could argue they did happen, I experienced them and I've been impacted by them.
Inevitably in every dream I would be killed. Who killed me varied, sometimes vampires, other times animated dolls, a particularly interesting one was Bell from Beauty and the Beast. There was this toy from Burger King, a hand puppet, that had the heads on a swivel. I would dream that she would enter my house and use her long finger nails to cut the necks of a long line of children. Once the line was drawn she could then freely swivel their heads. This would go on and on until inevitably she reached me. The searing pain of the incident would carry into my waking hours when I inevitably woke up in a sweat.
But that was only when I woke up at all. Sometimes I would be killed in a dream only to "wake up" and die again. To find that I was moving either from a dream into a dream within a dream, or perhaps moving sequentially through them. A great many years later the movie "inception" would come out and I would watch it with a nodding acceptance and familiarity. But we'll leave that at that.
Night after night, I would die. Each morning I would wake up in a sweat feeling pain wherever I had been harmed in the dream. It wouldn't last for long, like a fading reminder. A burning or tingling that would carry with me until I was brushing my teeth. But the impact was there all the same. I feared the night, I feared my dreams.
One night I was having one of the more popular nightmares. Our home was in the middle of nowhere. Infinite arid land in all directions. Thinking back on it I wonder if it was inspired by Courage the Cowardly Dog. The sky is pitch black, there are stars but they provide no light to the ground below. I'm in my room with my bed against the wall underneath my window. I hear some kind of noise, a tapping or scratching that catches my attention. I know that once I look at it that it'll shatter the window but against my better judgment I do so. A vampire bursts through the window and lands in the center of the room. I roll off the bad and underneath it hoping that it will not find me.
In this moment something inside me says I could always just wake up. I realize I'm in a dream and I close my eyes. I squeeze them tighter and tighter until I feel my bed sheets on my body and then I open them. I'm lying down on my bed, in my room, the sun hasn't quite peaked up over the horizon. I've done it, I've found a way to beat these things.
It is in this moment I realize I might have a chance in my dreams. Maybe I can finally stop dying.