Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mares and Terrors

I'm sleeping very poorly lately. Just like anything, given a long enough run, it's starting to get annoying. I keep getting woken up by very strange dreams, usually something involving a struggle, or me being stuck somewhere against my will. I'd love to know what to make of it all, but there is that skeptical part of my brain which lumps dream theory into the same category with homeopathy, rip-off psychics and mind reading. Then there's the other part of my brain which checked the two dream books I have and now knows dreams of captivity or imprisonment can be brought on by feelings of guilt and duty or my feelings of being restricted or stifled either in my personal or professional life. Yeah, it doesn't really go in any way to explain how I could get a decent night's sleep.

Getting the occasional bout of insomnia (about two months without any serious disruption to my sleep pattern, touching wood as we speak) I'm more than familiar with the usual home remedies. I've cut down on my coffee intake (easier said than done I might add), gone for walks in the evenings; I've sprayed lavender everywhere, lit candles and downloaded some relaxation music and ocean sounds onto my iPhone to lull me to sleep. And it's not the getting to sleep part that's the problem, it's staying asleep. I've always been a light sleeper, Mr S will tell you how many times I've elbowed him in the back for waking me up when all he's done is roll over in his sleep. I'm starting to think maybe I need an isolation chamber to sleep in.

But it is amazing what your mind conjures up during sleepy-time, isn't it? Over the last couple of nights I've been held captive in a log cabin which I've tried to escape via a wardrobe with a fake back to it; I've been kept in a prison camp of sorts where I was on top of a metal tower, overlooking the gate to freedom which was covered in pink barbed wire; I was also escaping my captors through very dense woods in super-fast quad bikes which in hindsight looked a lot like the speeders Luke and Leia had on the forest moon of Endor in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Even my subconscious is a nerd.

Nightmare by Kalessaradan
I know they're probably my brain sorting through some extra stuff that needs to be sorted away, or my mind acting out scenarios and putting me in situations which cause me anxiety in order for me to be able to cope with those feelings in my wakeful state. Or any number of other explanations you might want to grab off Jung, Ferenczi or maybe Hartmann. It doesn't make it any more pleasant waking up from one of those dreams, laying on the bed in a dark bedroom and wondering can you safely close your eyes again or will you be chased down a very steep hill by aliens again. However fleeting, the feeling of anxiety and fear is real.

Luckily I don't often remember my dreams, not for very long. They tend to stay with me until I have something else to think about, which is when the dream seems to disintegrate, sometime leaving behind a fragment or two, more often not even that. One has stayed with me for over 20 years. I think I was about 7 or 8 at the time, and I was sick with a flu with high temperature and sore throat. I remember this dream as clear as day even now. I'm at home, in the house my parents still live in, and I'm on the roof. I spread my arms out to my sides, jump of and I fly. I remember, in the dream, thinking that this was a dream. I looked down and saw our vegetable garden and swing set. I swerved down and to my right, flying low over our neighbour's birch tree and play house. I was circling our back garden quite happily until I woke up. The fact that this dream is still etched into my memory speaks volumes. I would quite happily pay money to feel the way I did in that dream again.

I'm off to spray my bed with lavender, stuff my pillow case with hops and drink some chamomile tea. Here's to a good night's sleep. It's bloody hard to sleep with your fingers crossed.

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