A Nightmare, and Trust

In a previous post I mentioned a recurring childhood dream that had come back. I had this nightmare quite a few times over the past two months or so. I spoke about it with my therapist two weeks ago, and thankfully haven’t had it again since then.

The dream is always the same, sometimes just with different characters and settings. Even though the end scene always takes place in a kitchen, the house or area is different.

It starts off with me running through a dark forest. I’m hungry, cold, lost, and terrified. There are people chasing me. The closer they get, the more their features start to change. They’re suddenly not human anymore. They’ve become monsters, and they’re trying to kill me. I find places that look safe and run into them, only to be greeted by more of these monsters. Among them are people I know or used to know. Even people I like or love.

In the final house I run into, I find myself in the kitchen. There I see someone else I know (a family member, friend, teacher, etc), with their back toward me, chopping vegetables. I feel a sense of relief, and start telling this person about the monsters and asking them to help me. As I get closer to this person, they turn around slowly, smiling. Their familiar face starts to change and distort, the smile becoming threatening and evil. Eyes glowing. I see the knife they’re holding is dripping with blood. I try to scream, but no sound comes out. This person, my last hope, and it’s gone. As this person lunges at me with the knife, I wake up. Sometimes the dream goes on, and I’m fighting this person who is now on top of me, strong and heavy. I realize that I can’t escape, but carry on trying to fight this monster off. I always wake up before I get killed.

I don’t know when these dreams showed up in my childhood, as that time of my life is fragmented, blurry, and a lot of it, forgotten. But I can certainly understand the context of not knowing who to trust, where to go for safety.

Growing up, I rarely felt safe. My parents got divorced when I was still very young, and whether I was visiting my mother on her weekends and holidays, or at home with my dad, step-mom and step-sister, I didn’t feel safe or that I could really trust anyone. There was shit going on in both households. We moved around a lot as well, and I went to quite a few different schools in different cities, each time moving further away from my mom. Back then, my dad and step-mom would tell me that my mom didn’t want me, so it shouldn’t matter. They made me believe that she didn’t really love me. And when my eldest younger sister came along, I got even less of her attention, and those words they would constantly feed me, just embedded deeper within me. It was only in my late teens that I learned the truth of the situation. So is it any wonder I have trust issues?

When I told my therapist about this dream she said that it makes sense that I would have that dream now. I’ve had a difficult time this past while, with certain relationships changing and ending. Having to build up trust in a new relationship as well.

What I’m wondering is why I have dreams and nightmares that I had when I was younger? Shouldn’t they be a thing of the past? A child/teen’s mind that changes and grows? Do any of you have recurring childhood dreams show up later in your life from time to time?

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Inside & Outside

My outside doesn’t match my inside.

I can talk about my emotions. How I’ve been feeling. How I’m currently feeling. To everyone else, it looks like I’m okay. Yet in those moments of talking about my feelings, my outside doesn’t reflect how I’m feeling on the inside. There’s a disconnect. And I don’t know why, or even how that happens.

In group today, when it was my turn to share, I told them a little bit about my experience on Friday, and how I’m still in that dark place. In our session last week Tuesday, OT told me I need to open up more in group, and use the time to its fullest. Therapist told me the same thing. So tonight, I tried. It was terrifying and extremely uncomfortable, but I did it. But once again, my true feelings didn’t match the way I spoke about it.

At one point during group (when someone else was talking about something), I had to leave and go to the bathroom because I could feel tears starting up. I don’t know how long I was in there, but I couldn’t stop crying. Then I intentionally this time, shut down those emotions. I walked out like nothing had happened, and went back to the group. Yes, I know. I probably should have stayed. Instead, I was rude and selfish.

One of two things happen when I talk about emotions and what I’m struggling with. Either I feel it all inside, but it doesn’t show on my face, as if I’m two different people. Or I just shut down completely and become numb. And the worst part is that 99% of the time, I don’t do it intentionally. It happens automatically.

Do any of you experience this? And how do I move past it?

I’m still feeling terrible since Friday. All I can think about is death. I see, and feel it all around me. I’m having nightmares. The kind that haunt me, and show up out of nowhere throughout the day. Like flashbacks. I get frustrated. After all, it’s just a dream. It’s not real. But then why does it feel so real? It’s past events, but with a twist. Like memories, mixed in with current fears. Some of these fears are those that I never even knew I had. I’ve also been struggling a lot with anxiety. I’m living off my Benzo’s (I’m not overdoing it- just enough to cope).

I feel disconnected from everyone and everything.

I Want It To Stop

The excruciating physical pain I’ve been in this week has subsided quite a bit. It’s not as unbearable as it was. But the emotional pain has stuck around.

In my previous post, I wrote how I feel like crying when thinking about the next day, week, etc. But now, its escalated into panic. How the hell am I going to make it through the next few days? The next week? My usual “one hour at a time” mantra isn’t holding up. It’s one excruciating hour at a time, and feels like too much to handle. I can’t do this! It’s too hard.

I don’t know what to do. I just need everything to stop! Please, please, please make it stop! How can one person hurt this much?

I need and want a friend right now, but none of them are available this weekend. And they don’t even have decent excuses. It’s frustrating and makes me extremely sad that when I really need them, they’re nowhere to be found. But when they need me, I’m there, no matter what mood I’m in. Even if I’m hurting as well. But I obviously don’t tell them that. In that moment, it’s about them. I put my own shit away to be there and support them.

Today I found myself repeating a pattern of something that I used to do a lot of in my teen years. Every time someone hurt me, or let me down in certain ways, I would feel this defiance and anger inside. But I didn’t want them to see or hear how it affected me. I was scared I might lose them if I mentioned it or showed it. So I’d hide it until I was alone. Then the anger would come, and I’d repeat “I don’t need anyone, I’m fine on my own.” But when the anger died down, I’d break down, with sadness consuming every inch of my being. I’d feel so alone. I preferred the anger, because it covered the disappointment, the rejection, the hurt. Anger is always so much easier to deal with, isn’t it.

I’ve had to cancel a few birthday “celebrations” over the years. Even as an adult. I’ll never forgot my 21st birthday. I was at a co-worker’s house (I was staying with her for a few weeks- I just can’t remember why), and everyone I had invited to my little party had been unable to attend. One of them cancelled an hour before it was due to start. My co-worker had gone to visit her son, as it was his birthday as well. So I was alone that night. The power went out at some point. So I lit a candle, poured myself a glass of wine, and sat on the floor, against the couch (I seem to find it comforting sitting on the floor instead of a couch for some reason- only couches though. Normal chairs- I’ll sit in them rather than on the floor). This might sound really silly, but I pretended there were other people there. Like my mom, little sisters, friends. Making up conversations in my head (there were some pretty funny ones). I had to do that, because if I stopped, the reality hurt too much. Remembering that makes my heart ache. So I’m not a fan of the day of my birth. Besides, I was a mistake. I never should have been born. I don’t even know why birthdays are celebrated in the first place. Who came up with that idea?

I’m writing about all this because I want to prove a point. I’m convinced that there’s something I’m doing wrong. That’s there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. That it’s why friends and family seem to want to spend as little time with me as possible. The things I mentioned above seem to prove it. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had this feeling (and believed) that I deserved everything that happened to me. And right now, I feel it’s especially true. Looking in the mirror earlier today, I wondered who that face belonged to. What’s her life worth?

I want my therapist. She always seems to know what to say, and has a calming influence on me. It’s weekend, so I can’t even reach out to her. And I’m not seeing her anytime soon either, which just feels so messed up. I just want to be held by her. No CBT, DBT, REBT, FFST (Okay, I made that last one up). Just one of those talking sessions. We all need one of those from time to time. Those sessions where she just listens and doesn’t make me work through techniques, skills, etc. I just need someone to listen to me, without judging. That’s what I mean when I say I want to held by her. In that protective therapeutic cocoon. Where it’s warm and safe. Even when it’s hard.

In one of the letters my therapist had written me, she told me that I’m brave. And now I keep hearing her words “be brave” (from another note), but I don’t feel brave right now.

I will try to be though. I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. I just need to get through tonight and tomorrow. That thought makes me panic. I’m trying to just stay in the moment, practice mindfulness, but it only works for a few seconds and I swing right back. These flashbacks that I’ve been having don’t make it any easier. I don’t even know anymore what’s a nightmare, and what’s a real memory. They seem to blend into each other. Swinging from adult to child mode. The nightmares and flashbacks are all from that young part. I should never have opened that door to let that inner child in. When we started working with that whole thing, I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know just how painful it would be.

“Stop crying. You’re not a baby.”

But big girls cry too.

Protection And Running Away

This is a follow up from my previous post.

After I had written it, and gone to sleep, I had a nightmare.

Before I get into the dream, it needs to be said that most of my dreams over the years have followed a similar theme. They all involve me protecting others (or myself and even baby animals). Running away from someone, a group of people, or something (like a natural disaster).

In this dream, that person was my step-father. He was hurting my youngest little sister, and throwing her around the room. She was so tiny. Just a little toddler. It broke me seeing what he was doing to her. So I picked her up and ran. Suddenly there were other people with us who I was also trying to lead to safety. We climbed and jumped over walls and roofs, and crawled through barbed wire fences. Trying to stay out of sight of the monster who was hunting us. There were security camera’s, so it was even more important for us to avoid being seen. There were wide open spaces, which made us especially vulnerable. Other spaces were difficult to get through, as there were plants and trees surrounding us. We came across a house here and there, but I knew they weren’t safe to run into. That the people who lived there were in on it with my step-father. Every time I thought we were in the clear, I’d find that it wasn’t over, and he was catching up to us.

Suddenly a SWAT team appeared. They were helping us escape. But then we understood that they weren’t there to help us at all. They had their own agenda. Now there were more people after us. One of the guys running with us, picked up a dead snake, and told us that the SWAT team had been fooling us. Why a dead snake, and what that has to do with anything, I have no idea (some of my dreams have featured snakes- I don’t know what that represents). At the end of the dream, when I finally thought we were really safe this time, as there were normal people walking around, I realized that we were still in danger. I felt trapped.

I woke up crying. And I realized just how much my past has affected me, and shaped my life. For the first time, I can acknowledge that I haven’t yet fully dealt with it. I always tried to run away from my past. Pretending that it didn’t affect me. But now I realize just how much it actually did.

Once I was fully awake, I felt a combination of anger and deep hurt. I’ve always tried to be the protector to everyone. To take care of others. I took on that role. But who protects me? Who protected that little girl? The people who were supposed to protect her, didn’t, or couldn’t. And for the first time, I’m feeling the extent of that pain.

I could never truly connect to that part of myself until now. I’m grieving for that sad, lonely, and scared little girl. For the teen who had to deal with so much.

Those uncried tears, are finally being released. The hurt with nowhere to go, is being experienced and channeled. The secrets with no one to tell, are now being told.

It’s too painful to feel all at once. But the door has been opened, so I can begin to walk through it.

My Friend, Disassociation

Sometimes I need the disassociation. In those moments, I don’t want to ground myself. I want to stay in that safe space. I don’t always want to fight it.

Today was one of those days.

I woke up feeling uneasy. I know the why, and didn’t want to stay there. I didn’t want to feel the emotion. The emotions that came along with it. I didn’t want to see the image that appeared last night during a session with my OT. A session that brought it to the surface again. And now it won’t go away.

I struggled for a few hours this morning with the feelings and the image- a fragment of a memory. I just felt like crying the entire time, but the pain didn’t allow the tears to come. Sometimes the pain can’t get out, while other times it rushes to the surface. At some point I shut down. And I’m glad I did.

I’m currently working at my dad’s business on a temp basis. I help out with a few things here and there.

Sometime during the morning, my stepmom was talking to me and I didn’t realize it until she called my name. She had to repeat the question she had been asking me. She asked me why I look “spacey”, and like I’m half asleep. I didn’t want to explain disassocation to her, so I just told her that I feel half-asleep. I still did my work, but in autopilot mode. And I wanted to be in that mode. Where emotions don’t affect me. Where nothing can touch me. Safe in my bubble, with the world, and the bad, on the outside.

The fog is lifting now. So I’m taking a pill and going to sleep, with the hope that I don’t get any nightmares. I did last night, so I think I deserve a nightmare free sleep. I’ll deal with things tomorrow.

Sometimes disassociation is a gift. A protective friend.

There is a pain so utter that it swallows substance up
Then covers the abyss with trance—
So memory can step around—across—upon it
As one within a swoon goes safely where an open-eye would drop him—
—Bone by bone

~Emily Dickinson

Dream: The Room Under The Stairs

It was dark. Quiet. So dark that I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. The only sound piercing the silence, was the rhythmic breathing of someone sleeping nearby. Confused and disoriented, I tried to remember where I was, and why.

Suddenly the door opened, and light illuminated the room. It was a tiny space, and I knew it was under the stairs. The silhouette of someone looming in the doorway, confused me even more. Who was he? He came into focus then, and I could see he was a doctor, with the usual white scrubs. He told me to come with him, and that it was my daily break from the room. I got up, and saw the sleeping figure next to me. It was Jasmine. That would be the last time I’d see her in the dream. I walked outside into a long, white corridor, that seemed to stretch for miles in both directions. I followed the doctor, and suddenly he started fading. I could see straight through him, until he disappeared completely. I was left standing in the hallway of the hospital, blinking in the bright light. All around me I could see people talking, laughing and hugging one another. But I couldn’t make out what they were saying. They seemed a world away. I was experiencing derealization in the dream itself.

A voice from behind me shook me back into the here and now. I spun around, my heart racing, my eyes struggling to bring the person into focus. It was the doctor again. He told me it’s time to go back. That my time was over. I begged him to give me my phone, but he wouldn’t listen. The more I begged and pleaded, the angrier he got. He dragged me to the door of the room, and shoved me inside. I hit my head on the ceiling, collapsing onto the bed. The door closed, and everything went dark again. The feeling of being trapped overwhelmed me, and I was struggling to breath. And this time I was alone…

In the room under the stairs.

Struggling With The Faceless

I thought I was fine.

So then why have I been struggling so much these past few days?

The worst part is that I don’t even know what I’m struggling with. It’s like there’s a dark hole somewhere in my mind, and I can’t grab hold of anything specific. Anything that makes sense.

My girlfriend woke me up last night with the words “what’s wrong?” or “what’s going on” (can’t quite remember which), and holding tightly onto me. I had apparently been thrashing around in my sleep and shaking. Did I have a nightmare? I can’t remember. I was just aware of my physical body in that moment of waking up. I had no emotional reaction at all, other than being disorientated.

I compare how I’ve been these past few days to last nights experience. Sensing something or more than one thing inside me, in my body, my mind… Yet unable to actually emotionally distinguish or feel what’s there. It’s as if I’ve fragmented or become disconnected from myself. I can’t even call it dissociation. Even ’emptiness’ doesn’t seem to explain it.

It feels like I’m suffering, but I have no idea why. It feels like I’m being tortured. But by what? I have absolutey no idea.

Have any of you experienced this, or know what might be going on? Also, I’d just like to know whether it’s possible to feel suicidal even when not feeling ‘obviously’ depressed or low?