12 May 2008


mardrömmar, noun, Swedish: nightmare. Every time I hear the word, I think of the line from "Lord of the Rings" where Legolas says, "Dark have been my dreams of late." Because I used word association a lot when learning Swedish, and in English, to mar something is to disfigure, to damage. Marred dreams, then, would be nightmares.

For more than twenty years, I've had the same recurring nightmare. The setting changes; the basic facts do not change. I'm somewhere crowded. A mall, an amusement park, a city street. Hordes of people surround me. I run, ducking and dodging through the crowd, because some one or some thing is chasing me. I'm in terrible danger, of what, I don't know. Dying? Being kidnapped? Somehow being harmed. As I run through the crowd, I'm screaming at the top of my lungs for someone, anyone to help me. Not a single soul ever so much as looks my way. I often wake after stumbling in the dream, just as "they" are about to catch me. Nearly always, I'm gasping for breath when I wake, just on the verge of an asthma attack.

When DH and I first moved in together, he noticed this pattern of me suddenly becoming restless in my sleep, then a small sound would begin to emerge from me; he describes it as akin to a puppy crying. I've never heard it, so I would hardly know; I've figured out that this is usually the point in the dream where I'm yelling. And then a full-blown asthma attack emerges. Eventually, once, during this sequence, he woke me, and it was then that I explained the nightmare. He would then recognize the signs, and often since then, he has woken me up before it became terrifying.

Whilst taking the Ambien, I don't have nightmares. Oddly vivid dreams, strange dreams, but never scary.

I haven't missed them.

But I am trying to slowly curtail my Ambien intake, and thus have tried to sleep without it quite a bit recently. The first night I attempted this, I had nightmare after nightmare, eventually turning into night terrors; so frightening that you're afraid to go back to sleep, and lie in bed utterly terrified of any and all noises you might hear.

I've often thought that the recurring nightmare is a sign of a fear of abandonment, which is completely unfounded, because I've never been abandoned by any one in my life, ever. Fears tend to not be so rational, though, and I've long since given up trying to figure out an explanation for that one.

The nightmares of the more recent nights, though, did not follow any pattern at all. Instead, the one I remember most vividly could have come from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel. In the dream, I awoke in our old apartment (n.b., I hated, HATED that place) and climbed out of bed after noticing guys in fatigues outside of our bedroom window. The military was TAKING OVER, see, and they were hiding in trees in my suburban neighborhood in the middle of a coup d'etat. Riiiight. Anyway, after hearing the rat-tat-tat of semi-automatic gunfire, I decided the smart thing to do would be to check and see if the apartment door was locked. Because a locked doorknob and short dead-bolt are certainly going to keep out guys with AK-47s. Yeah. I walked down the hall, with every detail in the apartment as it was when we lived there. Ugly brown carpeting, kitchen the size of a postage stamp (with avocado green appliances, natch) and the big TV cabinet by the front door. As I reached for the deadbolt, I thought, "Wait a minute. You don't live here anymore. This isn't your front door." And I woke immediately, frightened beyond any measure of reasonableness.

Each time I managed to coax myself back to sleep, another nightmare. Something different, each time, and something as non-nonsensical as the nightmare above, and each time, I'd be just as terrified.

Each nightmare involved someplace I've been before, someplace I know well. Our old apartment. A school I attended. A route I drive frequently. As if my subconscious was taking a long look back, at past experiences, and adding something new and terrifying to each one.

The day before all of this, I had met a person who does hypnosis, and "past-life regression therapy," which I view as a whole lotta hooey. Hypnosis, fine, I'm good with that. Past life regression therapy, not so much. I listened to what she had to say, and uncharacteristically, didn't argue with her about a bit of it. Didn't say, "dude, sign me the hell up," either, just for once kept quiet. There were a whole lot of things I wanted to say, and a whole lot of spots where I wanted to unleash my loud cackle at some of the more outre' ideas, but I was polite. While I am rarely downright rude in public, it is also rare for me to remain quiet in a situation like this. I'm opinionated, smart, and not ashamed of it. (Nah, you'd have never guessed that, right?)

I wonder, then, if somewhere in my mind, I wanted to really unleash my opinion and instead, by keeping quiet, I somehow enforced this little stroll down memory (nightmare) lane.


A Girl Who Knows a Ridiculous Amount of Firearms Trivia For No Apparent Reason said...

OK. I love ya, Luce, but I have to point out a few things here. You understand.

The rat-tat-tat you heard is not semi-auto weapon fire. It's a three-round burst. If you pull the trigger once but more than one round goes off, it's considered full auto, not semi.

Second, you do not have to fear our military taking over the neighborhood with AK-47s. This is because our military carries M-16s (or possibly the M-4 carbine, but standard issue is the M-16A2.). AKs are Russian rifles (the AK stands for Automatic Kalashnikov) and are therefore NOT issued them to American soldiers. Pity, too, because they're actually pretty nice rifles.

And. Um. Going away now.

Lucy Arin said...

LOL, the next time I need a weapons tutorial, I'll be looking to YOU for answers.

And my smart-ass self can't help but point this out....I was dreaming, so why couldn't the bad guys be wielding AK-47s? Seeing as the AKs are the better guns and all.

Definitely was fully automatic gunfire, because it was the bursts as you describe, cadged, of course, from every action movie I've ever seen, as I've never heard a gun fired IRL.