Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When You Wake Up Crying From a Haunting Dream

Keeley in the early 1970s

Sometimes a dream will stir up so much emotion that when you awaken, the dream is still so fresh in your mind, and your reaction so strong, the dream extends into the day and occasionally lasts even longer. Such was the case with the following dream:

I was in the apartment of a friend when I noticed a praying mantis trying to get into the apartment. I slammed the door in an attempt to prevent the praying mantis from coming inside. I succeeded in closing the door, but the relief was only temporary, because the bottom corner of the door was missing and it was large enough for the praying mantis to slip through.

The praying mantis reached through the bottom of the door, and I was afraid that if I didn't act quickly, it would come inside. Without bug spray, the only way I knew to get rid of bugs without squishing them was by using any aerosol spray can I could find. I really didn't want to kill the praying mantis, because it wasn't a typical bug, like a spider or a wasp – I just wanted it out of my friend's apartment.

With the can of hairspray I found, I kept spraying and spraying and spraying, but instead of retreating, the bug kept coming. Finally, after I had used probably the whole can of spray, the bug stopped reaching inside the opening in the door.

With some trepidation, I cautiously opened the door, and there, standing outside the door, was my three-year-old daughter, completely drenched in spray.

Convulsive sobs erupted from me as I grabbed on to her. The sobbing was so convulsive, it woke me up. Hours later, the memory of that dream consumed me. I would never hurt my daughter and yet, in my dream, it appeared as if I was trying to get rid of her. I berated myself for days and often cried when I relieved the nightmare. I felt that I was the worst mother ever, and I couldn't believe that I was trying to shut her out, even if it was only a dream.

In reflection, I think that my daughter – as  a praying mantis – represented a pest. Keeley's sleep habits were completely different from mine. She stayed up until 2 a.m. and slept only four hours a night. I needed far more sleep than she did, but I couldn't sleep while she was awake in case something happened to her and her sleep patterns were – quite literally – making me crazy.

Keeley never napped during the day, though I begged her to lie down with me, and she was on hyperdrive all day long. She started talking at 6 a.m. and didn't stop until 2 a.m. My mind was incapable of listening to her every second of the day, and at one time I told her that she had to give me and her voice a break, because the human mind was incapable of listening to one voice talk incessantly for twenty hours a day.

In short, though she was funny and interesting, delightful and cute, she was sometimes a pest. I think my lack of sleep contributed to the horrendous dream that nudged me all day long and contributed to me crying about it for several days. I finally took her to the doctor and told him that he had to give me something to keep me awake or give her something to help her sleep.

He gave Keeley something to help her sleep and I was able finally to get six hours of sleep a night. In retrospect, I realize that I was not trying to shut her out. I was trying to shut her up (at least for a little while each day).

Still, all these years later, I remember how my body sank in despair when I realized I was trying to get rid of my daughter in that dream, even though I realize now that all I really wanted was some sleep.

If you would like to read more from this author, look at the upper left hand side of this blog.

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