Sigmund Freud believed that dreams perform important functions for the unconscious mind and serve as valuable clues to how the unconscious mind operates (simplypsychology.org). Sleep terrors are episodes of screaming, intense fear and flailing while still asleep. Also known as night terrors, sleep terrors often are paired with sleepwalking (webMD.com). I don’t know about all that. I don’t possess the knowledge to have an opinion about the unconscious or subconscious or whatever may cause dreams and nightmares.
I do know is that dreaming can be really great…. Or REALLY awful.
I have had nightmares and sleep terrors since I was little. I remember many of them vividly, but what I remember most is how I felt. There was this intense, overwhelming sense of fear, usually because something bad was about to happen and I had to stop it but was unable to act. Anyone have a therapist on speed dial?
I thought maybe I would grow out of them. I thought maybe they would get better. I was wrong. They haven’t gotten better. The content got worse.
When Heath was declining in his last 15 hours or so, I prayed and prayed that it was all just a bad dream. Surely this wasn’t happening. We cried, and prayed and cried some more, not that it did anything for improving his prognosis. What I didn’t know at that moment is that I would relive that time over and over, and whether or not I was awake made no difference. In the beginning, it was almost every time I slept and I would wake in a flood of tears and realization.
The most frequent dream (or nightmare, as it happens to be) is that I’m walking into NICU. I’m walking down the hall and as I round the corner, the nurse is sitting in a rocking chair, holding Heath on her lap. He’s sitting up supported, semi-smiling (as sweet newborns do) without oxygen tubing or IV’s. As I reach for him, I wake up.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s such a slap when I wake up and realize, yet again, that he is gone. I am not able to hold him or to calm fussy cries.
Some of my other dreams have involved Noah and Avery, and usually ends with me in bed with them, trying to convince myself that they are okay and nothing bad happened to them like it did in my nightmare. There have been times when Jimmy had to wake me up because I couldn’t get out of my dreams and was crying in my sleep. I recall one incident where he wasn’t sure if I had gotten a call with bad news or if it was a dream because I was so hysterical.
So here I am again, awake since 2am, because of another horrible dream. This one was new. In this one, we were at the funeral home where we had his visitation. Instead of cremation, he was there in a little casket, wrapped in the yellow blanket that I last held him in. I walk up to him, and as I look down, he starts kicking, wiggling and rooting around. I can’t believe it. He’s fine. It was all just a mistake. He’s happy and healthy and we get to bring him home.
Except I wake up. And he’s not here. A horrible realization that is a slap in the face and punch to the gut every time.
Do your worst moments haunt your waking and sleeping moments? Do you relive the terrible awful whether you’re awake or asleep? Do you wish that you could sleep without those images and situations flooding back?
If not, I’m certainly glad (and envious) of that.
If you’re like me, I’m so so sorry. My hope is that you find peace and rest. And if you can’t, know that you are not alone in that search.