When I was little and had nightmares, my parents used to tell me it was because I had to pee. “Go to the bathroom,” they’d say. “The nightmares will stop.”
For the past three nights I’ve been having the strangest, scariest dreams. And no matter how many times I get up and try the whole peeing thing, they aren’t going away.
I’m probably just going insane from shutting myself up like a hermit in my apartment and doing nothing but study for my exams. That’s the most likely scenario I can think of. But in my semi-insomniac state, I always think my dreams are trying to tell me something. It’s not impossible, right? They could be. My subconscious is probably more in tune with reality than I am right now.
In high school, my chorus teacher had this really old book on dream interpretation on one of his bookshelves. One week I casually mentioned to him in passing that I’d been having a lot of dreams where I was massively pregnant, and he told me to look it up in the book. Apparently that meant I was on an archetypal journey to self-awareness. Duh. Like every other fifteen-year-old girl on the planet.
A couple of nights ago I kept waking up and falling back to sleep into the same dream world. It was very 1984-esque; everything we were doing was constantly under surveillance, and there were strict rules about things we could and couldn’t do or say. I texted one of my friends about it and she said I was probably feeling smothered. (Yes, absolutely. By finals.)
I hate being the kind of person that believes in dreams. It’s like palm-reading or gazing into a crystal ball. Except it’s not, because it’s me, and I’ve learned lessons in weirder ways. This doesn’t even make the short list.
I can’t ignore my dreams. They make sense. Lately I’ve been feeling scared and trapped and lonely, and I can see all those things in the images that dance through my head every night. Sitting alone at round tables in big rooms. Trying to jump from the dock to a boat that’s just a little too far away. Finding myself in places that look familiar, but aren’t quite right. As hard as I may fight, falling asleep doesn’t give me relief from my emotions. It strengthens them.
Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat and I tear the sheets from my sticky skin and I shake there for a little while, staring at the ceiling, and wish that I weren’t all alone. And then I drift into dreamland once more, only to find myself completely abandoned in a place I don’t recognize with people I barely know. I don’t need a book to understand my brain. I’m always on my own. I’m scared I’ll always be on my own.