Taking Care of Myself

Another Nightmare Last Night

Another Nightmare Last Night nsey-benajah

My nightmares are getting closer together and more intense lately. Last night was a new one, but an old theme – suffocation. After my older brother, Kevin, raped me when I was ten, I swore I would tell our mother in the morning. He left my room but came back when I was asleep. He put a pillow over my face, suffocating me until I nearly passed out. He whispered in my ear, “Remember, I can kill you anytime I want.” I never put up a fight after that.

Last night’s dream started with me walking barefoot onto a frozen lake in the middle of a dense forest. I was in a white, thin gauze dress. It was night – the sky was black with a full moon. Suddenly, I fell through the ice. But I didn’t fall into just the water. I was encased in a clear, gelatinous bubble as I sank toward the bottom of the lake, surrounded in blackness. The bubble was just big enough for me to stand in. The harder I tried to push my way out, the thicker it became. I held my breath for as long as I could, trying to keep oxygen in my lungs. I finally had to let go. There was no air inside the bubble. I couldn’t breathe. I tried not to panic.

My bubble kept sinking like there was no bottom to the lake – just an endless abyss. I woke up, gasping, desperate to fill my lungs with oxygen. I was dripping with sweat. My mind flashed back to the night my brother suffocated me. My inner child, Penelope, was terrified.

Thankfully, I was able to call upon my grounding skills, taking slow, deep breaths. I turned on my bedside lamp and looked around my room. I named objects out loud: desk, closet, chair, altar… until I felt myself calm down. I assured Penelope that she was safe.

I was afraid to go back to sleep, afraid the nightmare would pick up where it left off – as they have so many times in the past. I got up, put on my Pandora piano music, made myself a cup of Sleepytime tea, and wrote about the nightmare in my journal. Putting things down on paper always takes the power out of something that scares me.

After about an hour, I felt safe enough to go back to bed. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep. Thankfully, no more nightmares.

Photo by Nsey-Benajah on Unsplash.com

13 thoughts on “Another Nightmare Last Night”

    1. It does, thank you. I think it’s fear from publishing my book and scheduling public readings that is triggering me. My suffocating and drowning dreams usually have to do with fear. They help me to understand that there are issues I need to work through.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a brave thing you are doing. The fear will walk beside you during the process as well. I can imagine how it must feel to anticipate public readings. Even those who have not been through the same trauma have a lot of fear around that! Pace yourself. And honor your own need for rest and self-care. I love Liz Gilbert’s advice on honoring our fears, acknowledging they will be along for the ride, and just letting fear be there. Also letting the fear know it can be there, but that we are in the driver’s seat. It can ride along with us (and we appreciate it has done its best to keep us safe in our lives) but it is not ultimately in control. We are.
        Kind and warm thoughts as you keep moving forward.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah. I still feel that way, although mostly I have that whole imposter syndrome going on. But surprisingly, my therapist just told me the other day that most people who do public speaking have that. I don’t know if thats true or not, but it sure helped me settle down and focus on my next presentation thats coming up in a couple of weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. My heart goes out to you. I haven’t had them nightly for decades. it brings me back to the times when I was so afraid to fall asleep I would force myself to stay awake until I couldn’t any longer. I also had the fear falling asleep when I was a kid because of my brother suffocating me in my sleep. My hyper-vigilance had me always on guard for the slightest sound – still does.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My thoughts echo Meximinnesotana’s. And yes, with your upcoming book tour, it’s not shocking that this old fear is popping up. I suspect after your first few public readings, things will settle down.

    That said, I want to thank you for sharing your nightmare because it reminds me just how much my brother dominated me during “play”- letting me know in a million ways that he was stronger than me and could get the best of me. Grooming me for years before actually raping me.

    Like

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