Down the rabbit hole, around Wonderland and back through the looking glass… Part 4
While I was still in not-so-wonderful-Wonderland, I experienced some very strange dream-like phenomenon. Though it happened quite frequently over a period of about two years, I’ll just give you three examples of what I mean;
1) During that month between first experiencing the never ending gobstopper of self-hell, and finally going to the doctor, I awoke from a rare moment of sleep panicked that the house was on fire. I was choking on smoke, my skin felt tight and hot, and my eyes were watering profusely. I leapt out of bed in an extreme state of agitation – waking my boyfriend and lending some of my panic to him – and started trying to get the bedroom window open to let out some of the smoke. It took him quite some time to convince me to go back to bed, but I never managed to entirely get back to sleep; I just stared at the ceiling all night in that horridly anxious state waiting for the fire to swallow me up.
The next morning at a little after six, I got a phone call from my dad; there’d been a house fire at my older brother’s house – his wife had died in the blaze, and my brother was in the hospital, in a coma, being treated for third degree burns all over his body.
2) One afternoon, after just crossing the OkanaganBridge (headed to the West Side), I was resting my cheek against the window and daydreaming. I was incredibly tired and feeling very disconnected from the world around me (I was on meds at this point, but as I mentioned, the sleeping pills didn’t help me feel rested) and thinking about all the other people in the vehicles around me, wondering if any of them were actually real or if the whole thing was just someone else’s elaborate dream.
There was this truck; a big Bronco (or something like that) haphazardly painted primer black with strips of orange showing through; directly to my right. Something about the truck freaked me out. The driver seemed as normal as anyone else, but I got the sense that it was a very bad idea to have anything to do with him or his vehicle; it was like I had a big red DANGER sign flashing in my head. It sent me into full on panic mode, and I started losing it. I was screaming at my boyfriend (who was not technically my boyfriend at the time) to fall back in the traffic; to get away from that truck, NOW! NOW! NOW!
Alarmed by my distress (or maybe just trying to shut me up) he pulled back and let the truck get ahead of us in the throng. I continued to freak out, and he pulled over at the gas station along the way where we sat until I could breathe again. Five minutes after we got back on the road, we passed that same primer-black truck flipped over at an intersection, and another car crumpled around the base of a billboard along the roadside. Later that night, we learned that the driver of the car had died and their passenger was in critical condition at KGH.
3) Not long after the thing with the truck, I was daydreaming (again) and had this strange mental-movie play about my sister in law (a different one, obviously). In this waking dream, she was pregnant, but for some reason there was an orange-like thing stuck to her stomach that was causing the baby great distress. This orange-like thing had lips, and was sucking the life force from the unborn child. I told my (not-then) boyfriend about this, but due to the absurdity of it, I didn’t think much about it afterwards. I know, bizarre, but it is what it is.
Approximately two weeks later, she (my sister-in-law) let everyone know that she was pregnant, but that there was a large cyst (one she described as being “roughly the side of a grapefruit”) on one of her ovaries that was putting the baby at risk; she had to have surgery to have it removed. I didn’t even make the connection between this and my ‘daydream’ until my (not-then) boyfriend pointed it out.
Now, because I suffered from some minor visual and auditory hallucinations at the time, I didn’t really know how to deal with such strange occurrences, and try as I might not to overanalyze them, they really started to freak me out.
There were times when I got incredibly fearful that if some of my delusions were turning out true, maybe all of them would; maybe I really was dying – despite what my doctors said – or maybe everything was just as hopeless as I thought it was and that something unbearably terrible was about to happen. Also – because I was already questioning reality and thus, my solidarity in it – I started to suspect that these strange coincidences might be proof that the fabric of the false world around me was starting to disintegrate, and soon I might vanish along with the last filaments of the grand illusion.
This did nothing for quelling the anxiety that was already crippling me at the time, and I still don’t understand it in the least, but one day these strange happenings just stopped happening – almost as sudden as they’d begun – and I’ve never experienced anything quite like them since.
Do I believe that the crack in my mind led me to have visions? No… I don’t know what I believe, but as of this exact moment in time I’m chalking it all up to coincidence.
There was this one dream – however – that I first experienced while going through that stage of my life, and that dream revisits my unconscious mind at least a couple of times a year. In Monday’s post, I mentioned this particular dream and pointed out that I’ve had it three times in this past week. I’ll get back to this again in a minute.
As of today, I’m back to dreaming again like I used to when I was a kid. When I’m not actually dreaming, I’m dream-thinking; I reach some rather wonderful conclusions about things and come up with some fantastic ideas while I slumber; and I can once again control the majority of these thoughts and dreams… at least to some degree.
This is how I do a lot of the preliminary work on my book and/or other writing projects; I lie down and start thinking about the scene(s) I want to write the following day, and basically create mental-movies that will keep me entertained throughout the night. Once I’m really asleep, these mental-movies often take on a life of their own and begin almost writing themselves, but if I find myself getting too far off track from what I want, I can (almost always) redirect them. Often I don’t because sometimes my unconscious mind is more creative than my conscious one, and sometimes I just like to see where the unknown path might lead me.
I can’t always control my sleep journeys, and I really wouldn’t want to; I love the randomosity of my mind and treasure the spontaneous dreams that it creates; but I find that when dreams take a nastier turn that I don’t care for, I can quite often swing them back around to something more pleasant. This trick does not work with a few of the recurring nightmares I have. I have no idea why that is, but I do find it somewhat fascinating.
I should also point out that I know where at least two of these recurring nightmares come from; for example, the apocalypse themed dreams stem from something I overheard as a kid that I’ve apparently never entirely worked all the way through; and I assume that the others have similar origins. I imagine that – in time – I’ll eventually get to the route source of all my chronic dreams, and so I choose to enjoy the enigmas while they last. There is that one nightmare though (the one I mentioned previously), that bothers me at least as much as it intrigues me.
While the dream is not always exactly the same, the key aspects never change, and I am consistently terrified while in that place. Let me do my best to break down the basic elements of this nightmare for you;
There is a little yellow house – charming enough from the outside – with white trim and a red door. The windows are always dark, but there are Christmas lights on the deck that are almost always ablaze. There’s snow on the ground; not a lot, but enough to cover the grass of the yard; and big, lazy flakes are falling from the sky.
At the head of the walkway leading from the street, there are two giant, decretive candy canes; both wrapped with huge red bows. The street in either direction is bare; not a car in sight; and the entire neighbourhood seems to be asleep. The night is tomb silent but for this strange tinkling, metallic sound that I hear every now and then. The noise could well be jingle bells – not all that threatening – but for some reason the sound always serves to amplify my terror.
I have only been inside this house once, way back when I first started having the dreams. Sometimes I’m trying to find a way in, and other times (more often) I’m just trying to get away from the house, but no matter how hard I try to leave; no matter where I go or what I do; I always end up standing back between those two candy canes, staring at that red door.
The one and only time I’ve been inside, it was like something out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The main floor was normal enough, but the basement was this dirty, horrible place with wood paneled walls and a dirt floor, and there were all these work benches littered with rusted tools and knives and whatnot. There were chains and various other implements of terror strung from hooks in the walls; implements of terror to me while in the dream, but nothing so far removed from a typical work shed in backyards of half the houses in North America I’m sure.
I never saw another person in this house, but I had – still have – the terrible sensation that small children met awful fates in that place, and now I always wake from the dream in a panic to check on my girls.
The first time I ever visited that house in my sleep, I was still coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs and I couldn’t separate the illusion from reality. It just so happened to be near Christmas then, and (because of the coincidence-like occurrences of the time) I thought the dream was some sort of vision. I searched all over town for that house that year, but never found it.
While I’m presently acquainted with sanity, I still wake up feeling (at least for a time) that the dream is somehow more than a dream, and I think this is why it scares me so very much; it’s deeply connected to a time when I was not associated with reason, and part of me will always fear a return to that time.
To you, it probably doesn’t sound all that bad, but understand this; I am not an easy person to scare. I have seen and dealt with things in my lifetime far beyond what I consider the scope of normal experience, and because of such, I’ve become a little desensitized to the typical things that cause fright in an average person. My regular nightmares are wickedly dark illusions that would send an average person running for a straightjacket, and yet I love most of them; I look forward to them; while this strange, reoccurring dream about a little yellow house where I’ve never encountered another being or seen anything truly terrifying, scares the ever living shit out of me.
Fortunately, I don’t (usually) have the dream all that regularly, and I tend to let any and all thoughts about it evaporate between sessions. Still, I find it more than a little unnerving that I’ve had it as often as I have this last week. This dream has never come so frequently before.
The overly-analytical part of my personality is insisting that this means something; that I need to delve into the guts of the illusion and puzzle out its significance. That perhaps there is something very dark and dangerous that my mind is picking up on, and that I must heed the warnings.
The more rational me says, “Dreams are just dreams” and insists that a little research into the key elements of the nightmare would reveal nothing all that alarming. This part of me insists that the dreams signify some deep seeded – but perfectly rational – fear I’ve yet to face, or perhaps a situation from my past that I’ve yet to make proper peace with.
Though all sides of my personality seem to press for the acquisition of knowledge anytime I find myself staring down an unknown path, it is the rational me I tend to most often accept council from. I don’t like to face things out fear, but I believe that curiosity is healthy. But how exactly does one discover the meaning of a dream?
There’s dream analysis of course, but I can’t help thinking of that with the same scepticism I feel for astrology and so I’ve never taken that route. Instead, I’ve (over the last seventy-two hours) been thinking there might only one logical solution, and that is to dominate the fear in the only way I know how. I may not be able to control the dream while I sleep, but in my waking hours – with pen in hand – I’m the master; I’m a goddamn dominatrix with a whip of words; and just maybe I can beat the nightmare into submission with language.
That’s what writers/artists do after all, isn’t it? We with a stronger connection to our imaginations take the things that scare us, thrill us, turn us on or make us laugh, and we weave them into tales or statues or paintings. We that live with one foot in daydreams express our power over our surroundings by twisting our emotions into visible representations that can then be shared with others that may not have the same skill. With words or paint or clay, we make sense out of the insensible.
Perhaps the only rational thing to do is to take the existing elements of the dream, imagine the absolute worst, and let it spew out in a work of fiction. By doing this, I will reclaim power over the dream and; according to my current theory; slaughter the source of its terror. Possibly the only point of this nightmare is to be fuel for the creative fire, and maybe I should have written about it a long time ago. Tonight – if I have the time – I will sit down and attempt to do just that. Maybe it will end up here, maybe it will end up in my ‘Landfill’ file, but either way, I think it will be quite therapeutic.
I want you to understand that regardless of how much this particular recurring nightmare might terrify me in the moment, I would prefer to revisit that little yellow house night after night than to have my dreams ever entirely stolen from me again. After all, what is the point of being a dreamer without dreams? Besides, after the initial fear subsides, I find the whole thing a lot more interesting than anything else. What can I say? My brain fascinates me.
I am quite certain that sleep, dreaming and sanity are all very tightly woven into the same fabric – at least for me – and that the same things are tethered to the creative side of my personality. What I’m most curious about now is the mechanics of your minds; the minds of other writers; and so I’d like to ask a few questions before I officially wrap this up.
1) As a writer, do you feel that your dreams are as important to your life and wellbeing as I do?
2) Do you – like me – write from your dreams?
3) Have you ever suffered a period of time when you lost the ability to dream? If yes, how did you cope?
4) Do you have a recurring dream? If yes, do you know where it stems from?
5) Have you ever experienced anything that seemed to be ‘vision-like’ in essence? (I’m especially curious about this one if you’ve experienced something like this despite being a sceptic to all things supernatural.)
As always, I invite (encourage) you to comment on this one, and I’m more than willing to answer any questions you might have about any of the topics discussed throughout this four-part post.