Let me begin by saying I love having nightmares. Whenever I have the opportunity, and I know I have nowhere to be and no obligations the next day, I do whatever I can to try and induce a nightmare to enjoy for the night. Some methods work better than others but worse-case scenario, I may not get a nightmare but my dreams are definitely much more vivid and intense. I will most definitely do an accompanying post for this on methods and techniques to try and induce nightmares for those of you, after reading this post, who are so inclined to try. I have very strong feelings on the virtues and benefits of a healthy nightmare so I will love to write about that in conjunction.
Regardless of dream or nightmare, I have always had very vivid images in my sleep. I love to dream and so many wonderful inspirations and stories and feelings have been brought about by a good (or bad) night’s sleep. I have written down story ideas for movies I would want my action star hero Jackie Chan to feature in. Or perhaps more like after a night of binging his classic films I dreamt up one of my own for me to star in. I’ll pitch it to him and when he humbly declines because he feels he won’t be able to do it at this age, I will, reluctantly of course, assume the role to save the project. Some dreams from early childhood were so vivid and so significant they have become part of my story, my narrative. I have absorbed some of these dreams to be as legitimate and as valid as actual physical memories because they have had the same lasting impact regardless of their root in reality or not. Dreams have also been a topic of conversation and bonding experience for the women I have dated. Even with as much practice in recollection as I have had, dreams do not last long in the mind unless it is placed somewhere else first. As a child I drew out my dreams or bored my parents to death with accounts. As I got older I would practice writing it down, texting it to myself, or even leaving myself voicemails with vague cryptic reminders of what I had dreamt the night before. I found that one of the best and most beneficial ways of saving these precious pseudo-memories was to share them with someone when I have just woken and it is the freshest it can get. So I would call my girlfriend, or on those rare and wonderful nights when we could spend the night together, I would have her right by my side, shaking and jostling her awake so I can pour it out and capture the essence before it floats away into the ether. In contrast, most if not all of the women I have dated have not been big dreamers. Some even insisting they do not dream (this by the way, is false; we all dream but not all of us have the ability to retain the memory of them). So for them it was an opportunity to live by proxy and they would be astounded by the intricacy and vividness of these dreams. They were also an excuse to start the day immediately thinking of the other person and reaching. Sometimes I feel we don’t give ourselves enough reasons to want to reach out and talk to our significant others. It was also fun because whether directly true or not, if there was a chance to add them into my dream, it certainly makes them happy and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Hahah.
Not all dreams are warm and fuzzy though. Just as our real world experiences and emotions can run the full gambit of all human possibility, even more so in our dreams where we are no longer tethered by conventional rules and expectations a la Inception. Come on, we all went through puberty, who could forget those wet dreams? Fun in the moment but a pain in the ass to clean up after. Then you have your ghouls and goblins, monsters under the bed, what’s in my closet, type of nightmares. The ones where you wake up with your heart racing and sweat running down your back as you grip tightly onto your bedsheets to remind yourself that this is what’s actually real. Those are the ones I love.
And then there are these.
The nightmares of a different nature.
The dreams that bring out your deepest fears and insecurities.
The ones that draw on the thoughts that keep you up at night. The ones you try to push away. The ones you thought you had forgotten or left behind.
Nightmares that don’t scare you like a bump in the night. The ones that scare you like a constant heavy weighing burden that rides on your shoulder and bury itself deep into the back of your mind. The ones that make you cry rather than scream. The long, twisting, slow knife.
One of the worst ones I can remember was when I was younger but aware enough to realize my parents would fight sometimes. As a kid you don’t know how to process the first time you notice that your parents are humans too and sometimes humans fight each other. You have no sense of time or permanence yet, and so every terse word seems like the end of the family.
I dreamt that my mother died, and right soon after my father pulled us all out of school and everything familiar and flew us back to the Philippines. I didn’t want to go and I wanted my mother back and I yelled and screamed and accused him of killing her to drag us back. He took a power washer from the backyard and aimed it at my head and just shooting it into my forehead and I was yelling stop but my mouth was filling with water and I was choking and my eyes were stinging and the pressure on my forehead was so intense and so persistent that I felt I was going insane. I woke up frantic, scared, bawling, with an unrelenting headache of blinding pain. I was numb but on fire at the same time.
Last night I had one of those dreams. A deeply buried fear brought to the light kind of dream. A nightmare that had no benefits, no rush, no thrill. Just a bitter, lonely feeling of fear and loneliness and inadequacy.
I hate the idea of high school reunions. I don’t like old hash. But there I was. All the friends who either I had let slip by, judged too harshly, felt I were too good for, or were smart enough to leave me. All the relationships that felt like the world. Old flames. One in particular. I hurt her, badly. I couldn’t ever face her after what I did, and so I ran and just hoped that she would be better. I think I wanted her to hate me. Hate is an easy emotion. You don’t feel responsible when someone hates you. But there she was, standing in front of me. I knew it was her because I looked her up on FB a little while back to see how she was doing. I recognized her face. Her long midnight black hair that glistened. The tender porcelain skin. A smile of pity. She came up to me. Stroked my cheek. Forgave me. With a cold smile, knowing how much it would hurt. She said everything I didn’t want to hear. How weak I was. How little. How small and dumb and insignificant. How I made no impact, no influence, was of no worth and no reflection in her life. She forgave me because I was nothing, and you cannot blame nothing. And then I saw her. Beautiful. Standing next to her ex. How happy. How proud. How she proclaimed to everyone who looked at them ‘this is my boyfriend’ ‘see us’ ‘look at us’. And I couldn’t look away. Like a voyeur, my eyes were glued on them, even though every second was torture. I wanted to take it all in. I wanted every last drop of poison. Do I miss her calling me her boyfriend? Do I miss the pride and joy she had in being mine and in my being hers? Or do I just miss that privilege and luxury in general. What am I chasing after. What do I miss. Who will remember me. What will I amount to.
I know why this dream came up. Make no mistake, our dreams are products of our subconscious. Each element, no matter how fantastical, is still rooted in reality whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. I know every ingredient in the poison in my cup.
But when I woke up, I no longer had anyone to talk to.
Man: 24 Loneliness: 8