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