From the time I was ten until twenty-seven I had the same nightmare every single night. It was, I can tell you, a real nightmare. The nightmares were made worse when my parents’ physician prescribed sleeping pills to give my parents a good nights sleep. Yes, my parents’ physician gave me( a 10-year-old girl) sleeping pills so I would stay asleep through the night. You see, my nightmares were an annoyance to my parents. What was an annoyance to them was a terror for me. The usual pattern of a nightmare is you have it and then you wake up. Maybe someone comes and sits with you and tells you everything is okay and coos to you kind words about how you are safe and nothing can hurt you. That is not what happened to me. My pattern was have the nightmare and then stay stuck in the nightmare thanks to the pharmaceutical wallop I was given each night before bed. And so instead of waking and escaping from the terrifying man, who was trying to kill me, via waking, I would keep dreaming( or more accurately, nightmaring) and my parents sleep went undisturbed.
I quit having the nightmare when I was twenty-seven. I remember the last time I had it. I woke up from the nightmare and I had had it. I was sick of this guy chasing me and threatening me and telling me he was going to kill me. I was sick to death of it. I woke up from the dream and said the following, “go ahead, kill me”. And that was it, that was the last time I had that nightmare. As soon as I gave the monster permission to kill me he lost interest in the chase.
Well, my friends, for the last six months I have been having a repeating nightmare. The details and locations of the nightmare change from night to night but the theme of the dream is EXACTLY the same. In the dream Keith has left me or is leaving me. And each time I have the dream I wake feeling sad and scared and shaken. He is usually right there next to me in bed when I wake from these nightmares. Sometimes he isn’t and then I get really freaked out. I had ANOTHER one of these doozies last night. When I woke up he wasn’t in bed and I felt extremely scared and anxious and almost inconsolable. He was only twelve-feet away and working at his desk, but in my post-nightmare haze it felt like he was in Siberia and I was in the nether-regions of the Moon. When he heard me crying he got in bed and told me he was right there and it was just a dream, only that didn’t help. It’s a dream I have almost nightly. It’s a dream I am SICK to death of. It is a dream that my analyst and I keep trying to analyze away. My fantasy is that if I could only crack the code of the dream and figure out exactly why I am dreaming it then it will stop tormenting me.
For a while I thought it was an anxiety dream. I was afraid that he would leave me. I finally found love and I was afraid I would lose it. I worked that interpretation through to its logical conclusion, only the nightmare came back the very next night. Keith suggested that perhaps it was the banana I was eating before bed that was causing the nightmares( Keith tends to blame bananas for everything from mosquito bites to nightmares. I am not exactly sure what bananas did to him, but they are for sure a culinary scapegoat). I quit eating the bananas the nightmare remained. Then my analyst asked if I was perhaps leaving him and my dream was making it the other way round? Well, there’s truth in that. When I feel scared and my attachment issues are activated I do find that I want to run away. I want to be the one who is leaving and to not be left. And I am REALLY in this relationship and being REALLY in it makes me feel vulnerable and afraid that he might leave me( my waking anxiety about this tends to go to, “he’ll die and I’ll be alone”). Whenever that feeling hits the surface I want to put my running shoes on and run away and protect myself from the pain of losing him.
This morning when I told Keith how sick and tired I am of having him leave me every-night. He told me, “I wish I had a pill for you to take and make it go away.” I told him I wished he did too.
Today I will go see my analyst and I will talk about this dream again. I will tell her that we have to figure it out. I will implore her to give me an interpretation that will satisfy my psyche and liberate me from this “Groundhog’s Day“.
I do wonder if doing what I did with the other nightmare would work with this one. Only I can’t bring myself to say out loud, “Go ahead and leave me.” I just can’t do it.