when i was a kid, i thought everyone had dreams that were real, like i did. as a child it took years to figure out that other people dreamed in fragments, could barely if ever recall dreams and many only dreamed in black and white. certainly no one i had ever spoke to could manipulate things inside their dreams. to me, it always seemed like they were helplessly dragged through segments of tv shows on channels people were changing too quickly.
i had and still have, 2 types of dreams. the first was like what i came to learn was normal dreaming, with the exception that i could change or alter what was happening, if things were not going like i wanted them to or if i felt like they were becoming scary. i would feel myself step in as a 3rd party, yet unseen observer, back things up and decide which new direction to take, if i could not get my dream-self to recognize that what was happening was becoming difficult and not end well. i can recall doing it up to 3 or 4 times, repeating certain segments of a dream to correct it, before waking myself up, if i couldn’t, rather than go through being afraid.
this type of dreaming, i have carried through to adulthood. i don’t try to do it, it’s just how i dream. when i’ve had a difficult night, i wake up feeling like i have not slept. the more i try to change or alter things, as opposed to simply being an observer, the more exhausted i am in the morning. if i battle all night, my day is filled with flashbacks to what happened before it dissipates like morning fog with the advent of a sunny day trying to break through and burn things off so i can function.
i often wonder why i have this dream management ability and if it makes me either better able to cope with my life or if it is responsible for creating more drama than it’s saved.
the second type of dream was what i came to refer as ‘future reality dreams’. this is when i was inside the dream and it was happening to me in my real, though future, life. i was the participant and i was interacting with people, or was in situations, that ended up happening in real life, sometime in my future; if you’ve ever had the feeling of deja vue, it is similar to what i felt at the moment of realizing i had already lived through what was happening in my present. the first time i heard the word, i was relieved to have finally found a word that almost explained what happened to me during my future reality dreams.
i can remember some things from the time i was a very young child. other things, i have blocked out and there are very large gaps in my memory. but the first time i remembered future dreaming was when i went through the death of one of my grandmothers, in a dream. i went over it and over it, trying to change it, waking myself up from it, only to have it every night for about 10 days. finally it went away. and then my father told me she had died.
in my child’s mind, it was clear to me that because i could not change her death in my dreams before she died, i was in fact responsible for not understanding that some things i could not change, even when i tried. it took me years to understand that i was connected to some people. and when i dreamed, and when those people were upset or hurting, somehow i was there with them and so i knew what was happening in their life without being told.
when i would bring it up occasionally to my mother, she would not react well to it. she would be aggressive, confronting, dismissive, taunting. i learned to keep my mouth shut. i began to feel that what i could do was not normal. so i started asking other kids about it, to see if they dreamed like i did. i was looked at as being odd, but interesting, by most. i can remember some of them trying to be exclusionary and it had no impact on me because i was so much more mature than they were and saw it for what it was. fear or jealousy.
depending on what was said or done, i would use my advantage to belittle the aggressor. no one took advantage of me or those i protected. i would not allow it. they had no idea about the world or what went on around them or before them and i did, so it made it impossible for me to be carefree or childlike most of the time. i felt like i had far more in common with adults, because i knew things in the world were not easy. you were not protected. you had no control and no promise of tomorrow.
i now have the language to know and understand that as a child, i was very much able to access another plane of awareness and this was not something that everybody could do. i could feel energy. i knew when evil things had happened at certain places. have you ever had a close call where you are almost in a car accident or turn to see someone going to blindside you? you look up and with a sinking feeling of absolute dread, know you are going to get hit, and that it is going to hurt, and you don’t have time to brace yourself?
that is what it feels like when you don’t know how to regulate it. it’s like getting slammed. it doesn’t hurt in that moment it takes seconds to have your mind process what hurts and what the emotions about it are. seconds that could sometime feel a lot longer. overwhelming fear and terror of the unknown, and awareness that something is changed, knowing but not believing yet. surprise, having the breath knocked out of you. bewilderment. a sense of being lost and confused then the relief of finally seeing someone who can speak your language and explain things.
when things are evil, you can feel it from a long way off. you normally have time to turn from it before it gets close. it’s like wading into the warm waters of a lake to pass through a brutally cold patch of water which seems to seep through your bones, making you shiver from the memory of it even after you pass through it. it brings with it an un-rational type of fear you know is completely rational. there is a wildness to it which can catch your breathe and make you immobile with it, if you allow it.
i learned very young to never, ever, ever look towards it or stay near it. you knew it was far away, but if you acknowledged it, i know it would bring it close and if that happened i could not imagine what it would have felt like. i’ve always known there was good and evil things in the world, because of this. it also meant i knew there were choices from a very young age, some of which held monumental consequences. i may not have known what that was, but i knew it meant no matter what happened to me, it was the result of a choice of someone else and it was from them being too close to something evil and not being able to control themselves enough to get away from it.
the last few nights, i’ve been having night terrors. woken brutally and horribly with heart pounding, drenched in sweat, nauseous with the adrenaline pumping through my body and impossible to fall back asleep from. this hasn’t happened in a very long time. not being able to control the dream or not being able to back away from it and wake myself up, before the terrors grab me. i hate it. i don’t know how people can live with nightmares as part of a normal sleeping pattern over the course of their life.
i fear what it means. two variations of the same event, but seen from 2 perspectives, so far. and it’s not a dream i want to challenge or face again, even in sleep. i am terrified to know if it’s future real and i am unable to change it and i don’t think i can stay in the dream long enough to understand it, because the terror catapults me from it and keeps me awake long enough to ensure that i can’t fall back asleep until i am exhausted enough to collapse and not dream at all.
anytime this happens, it means tragedy. it means painful loss.and i don’t want to know the details, especially if i can’t fix it. dreading bedtime because it’s not a safe place right now.