Haunted by Nightmares

I’ve spent years having sleepless nights filled with nightmares. I had almost gotten used to it but then medication offered me a little bit of hope. I stopped having as many nightmares. They were almost gone. And even when I would have them, they wouldn’t hit me with such intensity. But, I think, maybe, I’ve gotten used to this medication. I’m being haunted by nightmares again. Add that to the newly found flashbacks and I don’t know when I ever get to have peace from the past.

I know, I know, I’m having a woe is me moment. It’s just that I was in a better place before I went to bed last night. I spent the day on my yoga mat, reading, doing yoga, meditating. I had no reason to believe that figures from my past would pay me a visit in my dreams but they did.

I dreamt that my aunt (who died last year) called the family to let us know my cousin (the one who abused me) had died. We all met at my grandparent’s house. The cousin was still alive and he was there. I felt tricked. Then a storm blew in and we were all trapped, flooded (literally, but maybe this speaks to my physiological state as well). I was raped in the dream, in the night. I yelled stop, over and over again. He wouldn’t. I didn’t fight back though. I just yelled until someone woke up. I don’t remember who it was, a woman, but she didn’t believe me. She told me I must have wanted it and why was I yelling, waking the whole house; there were bigger problems to deal with (the storm). I woke up. Cold sweat. Heart racing. Couldn’t breathe. My first impulse was to grab my razors but I remembered that I gave those up. After making that realization I just stayed in bed, drifting in and out of sleep. Drifting in and out of more nightmares.

Every time I woke back up, I’d check the time. Only minutes had passed. But in slumber it felt like hours, days. Time is a traitor. The more I willed it away, the slower its pace. It’s like sap, slowly sliding down the bark of a tree. So slow as to be imperceptible to the naked eye, or to the eyes of those in the throes of post-traumatic nightmares.

It’s difficult to wake up and resume a feeling of control over one’s own life, when they spent the night being re-victimized, experiencing powerlessness over and over again. It’s difficult to grasp that I am an adult now and I do have a greater ability to protect myself. That’s what people tell me anyway. I just don’t know how to believe it; the only ways I know how to protect myself are ways I’m told are maladaptive, unhealthy. My ways prevent me from having healthy relationships. And don’t I want to have healthy relationships? Of course I do. I just don’t know how to escape the prisoncell of my own mind, my own past.

If I could dedicate my days entirely to mindfulness and yoga, maybe. But that’s unrealistic. And anyway, it didn’t stop the nightmares from finding me last night. Why should I believe it has to the power to stop them from coming back again in the near future? What does a woman have to do to find some peace?

14 Thoughts

  1. Oops hit send on accident but I used to have them all the time when I was growing up and they determined I was having night frights. I’m not sure the difference but my whole childhood I had them. I still remember them vividly til this day. I know that I dream but I block them out. How? IDK but it is rare that I remember a dream.

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    1. Hm, Google says the difference between nightmares and night terrors is that you don’t remember night terrors but you do remember nightmares. And the point at which they happen in the sleep cycle differs. Nightmares are usually during REM.

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        1. Yeah, I thought I had night terrors when I was younger because I remember them too, but then if not remembering is part of the deal then maybe not. Who knows.

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  2. That’s tough. My ptsd resurfaced with a kind of hybrid ptsd

    These nightmares resemble our fight or flight mechanism firing in our sleep

    I use to wake up in terror, soaking wet and out of it

    Have you tried bringing inner peace or kindness to yourself after a nightmare

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  3. I have nightmares and intense dreams all night a lot of nights (used to be every night for months and months but they’ve settled a little recently). Like you, it’s basically re-living and FEELING all the awful stuff that has happened and they are so hard to switch off from. I thought I was exaggerating that they last all night but Judith Herman who wrote Trauma and Recovery wrote about trauma dreams and how they are more emotionally intense and occur at different points in sleep cycle and for longer than non-trauma dreams. Have you tried yoga nidra in the evening or right before sleep? I’m yet to see if this makes a difference for me because atm I’m taking sleeping pills every night due to what’s going on, but I’ve heard good things about it for feel, peaceful and restorative sleep.

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