Saturday, April 01, 2017

Violent Dreams

I almost didn’t post about this because it was so disturbing to me, but I decided writing about the experience was the best way to explore it. I had uncharacteristically violent dreams last night. If you know me at all, you know any form of violence is not my thing. I don’t write thrillers because I don’t want to write violence—my one book with a serial killer had no violence because everything took place off-screen. I haven’t ever thought about writing paranormal for the same reason. Yet last night, both elements were in my dreams.

I am one of those people blessed or cursed (depends on your own experience) with total recall of my dreams. I have a son who shares that, and I laughed when he first married because they would wake up of a morning and share their dreams. Last night was one of those dreams I couldn’t shake. I would wake up, look at familiar surroundings, assure myself it was all a bad dream. But when I closed my eyes, I was back in it again. Finally broke the cycle by concentrating on things I want to do in the novel I’m working on.

The dream—was it two or one that segued into another? It began with a young boy who was violent, like a sociopath—he killed a cousin and kidnapped another. I don’t know whether I woke and could banish that or not, but suddenly I was in a world where people were randomly and suddenly vaporized, even whole buildings. You walked along the street and the person ahead of you might suddenly disappear. People were afraid to go into buildings for fear the whole building would go. There was, of course, mass panic, with crowds pressing to get I don’t know what—there was no immunity.

As I said, that’s where I left it. I reconstructed the evening. I had not watched violence on TV nor read anything but an innocuous cozy mystery; I had a turkey burger and Brussel sprout slaw for supper (that needs rethinking, but it didn’t lead to nightmares). I looked at violent dreams on the web. Seems, generally, that they do not mean you harbor a hidden violent streak (thank goodness) but that you are troubled, dealing with some conflict.

That led me down a blind alley. I have really thought about this, but I can’t imagine anything even in my subconscious that would cause me to want to destroy the world as I know it. And as for the young boy? Nope, not a clue.

Towards morning, when I slept again I had one of those lovely dreams about being young and in love again, courted by a wonderful considerate man. Now that I can identify with. I’m just going to forget the violence and hope it doesn’t come again. People vaporized?


Randy Eickhoff said...

Those type of dreams are standard fare here, Judy, and have been so long that I cannot even remember when I had a "happy" dream. Every night (yes, every) I awaken at least twice, often shaking. Almost every morning, I have to remake the bed as the bed clothes are in array. I keep five (yes, five) pillows on the bed as I "soak" through them with sweat. Not all five, of course, but often enough that I have to keep them on the bed with me. Some times, I strike out so many times and thrash around so badly that lovers sleeping with me have to get up and go into the guest bedroom. The most hours I ever sleep in a row are four. Even my naps often are filled with such dreams. I may be wrong, but the dreams seem to intensify the closer we get to April 5---that's the day I parachuted into Vietnam into the north country. (It will be 52 years come this April.) My psychiatrist has been trying for years to prescribe various medications in a vain attempt to stop those dreams but has failed. It doesn't make any difference what I read, what shows I watch on TV, what I eat or do not eat, the dreams are always there. Sometimes, suddenly, even during the day in unguarded moments. Even when I try to tire myself out with exercise. I have no idea how many times I have been out walking the dog and find myself flat on the ground from a sudden noise such as a car backfiring. The most common dream(s) are those with black pajama-clad figures running toward me, red tracers coming toward me, and occasionally I ever hear sounds which is extremely rare. And, no, this is not an April Fool joke. This is my reality. Years ago, when I lived in El Paso, my doctor decided that to do a sleep study on me. The result was the discovery that I was only getting 10 minutes of deep REM a night. The lowest the doctors (plural intended) had ever seen. When I was 55, my doctor finally decided that I needed to retire and was so adamant that he said that if I didn't do so voluntarily, HE would retire me. I am now 71. I refuse to take sleeping pills as I am afraid that I might become so dependent upon them that the dosage will become dangerous. I even tried writing about what happened (three rather large novels) under the advice of my doctor, figuring that perhaps if I "got it out in the open" that might help. But that proved to be fruitless. I've lived alone, now, for ten years. Even those nights when I do not dream about Vietnam, my dreams always have some form of violence to them. All I can say is that I have learned to try and deal with them during waking hours. Sometimes I am even awake 72 hours because I am afraid to go to sleep after an extremely bad dream. But even then, when I finally do, there are still dreams. Are there nights when I don't dream? I imagine there have been, but I cannot remember them. I have learned to look for "resolving matters" whereby I try to find humor in all sorts of things. I deal with bad things happening (such as the two strokes I've recently had) by refusing to sit around and develop the "poor little me" attitude. And, this is enough comment. Look at it this way: you are extremely lucky that you rarely have bad dreams. Nietzsche's "abyss" has become almost a dead metaphor, now, but I know it exists but I have yet to step into it. Or, fall, I guess, would be a better term. The last good friend I had with whom I did many things also had such dreams (we met in a "help group" at the VA) died over ten years ago. I know only one of my neighbors. But we do not socialize. I spend the VAST majority of my time alone. Like I said: you are extremely lucky!

Judy Alter said...

Randy, you put a whole new and realistic face on PTSD for me, and I am sorry to make you detail your terrifying nights. You prove once again that our country needs to take excellent care of those who fought for us.
I won't complain any more about bad dreams because mine, infrequent and not that severe, pale in comparison. But I was more exploring than complaining. I saw a comment this morning about how tiring it is to live in an absurd world, which is what we're all doing these days. I wonder if that contributes to restless, difficult nights. Last night I was awake, clearly aware that I was terribly worried about our country--far different from sublimating it into dreams.
God bless, my friend. I will keep April 5, this Wed., in my mind and you in my prayers. I hope you're enjoying good, not destructive, storms this rainy morning.

Anonymous said...

I have violent dreams, dreams in which I direct extreme violence toward other people, it leaves me unsettled in so many that who I really am? I wake up with guilt and it usually follows me for a couple of days..

Judy Alter said...

Yes to the guilt and wondering if that's who you really are? I wonder if there's a hidden violent streak in me, but other explanations make me believe not. Thank goodness. Still I hate the dreams. I remember most dreams, sometimes until morning, sometimes for several days, but they are generally happy and about things I realize are on my mind. Sometimes they relate to the plot of a novel. Recently I dreamt about Africa because a friend is there.