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Posts Tagged ‘Night Terrors’

Bush and houses (c) Lynda BernhardtEven after doing all of the hard work of healing from child abuse and being in a place where I consider myself “healed,” I still sometimes have dreams about issues that arose from the child abuse. They are always intense, and I wake up feeling “off” in the morning.

Once upon a time, those kinds of dreams were my norm, so I feel grateful that they only happen every once in a while now. Also, it helps that I can analyze the dreams after I wake up and observe my progress.

When I used to have dreams about the abuse (which was pretty much every night), I was a victim and passive. Now, I fight back and feel much more in control.

Last night, I dreamt that I was in the house of my most sadistic abusers, S & L. I was using their bathroom. (Bathrooms are always a symbol that I am dealing with my most private thoughts and emotions.) I had trouble washing my hands in their sink because the faucet was this bizarre doll, and it was hard to turn the tiny handles on the doll’s body. I feared that I broke it but didn’t.

L (the husband) walked in. I apologized for the trouble with the doll faucet. He asked why I was using his bathroom. I told him it was the only one I could find in the house. I concentrated very hard on not blacking out. I did not want him to abuse me again.

Then, I was making love with hub. We stopped and decided to walk to a shopping center. He was fully dressed, and I was wearing nothing but a cheap white towel like the ones you get in hotel rooms. A group of men passed us walking the other way. One of them grabbed me and kept walking like it was no big deal. I tried to scream to hub, but as often happens in my dreams, I had no voice.

This kind of scenario played out a lot in my dreams in the past. Somebody would just “help himself” to my body. I would scream, but nobody would hear me. Sometimes my body would be immobilized so I would just lie their while another person – often a complete stranger – harmed me.

In this dream, I fought back. I could only move my head, so I bit the man as hard as I could in multiple places until he dropped me. That made my sister, who was suddenly in the dream next to hub, notice and come help me.

I felt shaky when I awoke, but I am pleased with the power that I am taking back in these kinds of dreams. I am a victim no longer. Nobody is going to take me without a fight.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtOkay, this is really getting old. Every night, I keep having nightmares. Fortunately, most are not as graphic as the one I posted about recently, but they are disturbing nonetheless.

These dreams are keeping me from feeling rested. I wake up with all of my muscles feeling tense. I can tell that I have been grinding my teeth during the night. (I wear a mouthpiece at night to minimize the damage.) My heart is racing, and I feel really lousy.

Once this happens several nights in a row, I find myself stalling going to bed at night. I check my email one last time and find other ways to dawdle on the computer until another 30 minutes or an hour go by. I am one of those people who needs 8+ hours of sleep a night, so this is not good for me. But I simply dread going back into that dream world again.

The dreams are still related to stuff with my mother. In the dream, I was in a bus being driven by a woman who often appears in my mother-related dreams. She accidentally bumped the bus into one in front of us. She got upset because her mother was on that bus. There was much more to the dream, but those were my symbols narrowing down which aspect of healing upon which my subconscious is focusing.

I wish I could take something to make me stop dreaming, at least for a night or two. I really need some rest.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Fire (c) Rosanne MooneyMany people who suffered child abuse struggle with night terrors. Unfortunately, that is my story, too. I still remember my first night terror back in college. I awoke as an anxious mess in the safety of my dorm, but I could not even cry about it without waking up my roommate. The night terror haunted me for years. To this day, I can get worked up if I think about that one.

Night terrors are different from nightmares, and you can definitely tell the difference when you have one. They occur in a different stage of sleep, making it much more difficult to pull yourself out of the dream. I have had night terrors in which I have tried to wake myself up at least seven times in the dream, only to find myself still stuck in that scary place. For me, this drives home the reality of how unsafe I was as a child.

I have had many night terrors over the years. All of my night terrors tie into the child abuse. I had another one last night, which is why I am writing about it this morning. I am still very shaken and will likely stay anxious and “off” for the rest of the day. Happy Easter, Faith. I believe that Easter is what caused the night terror. I suffered from ritual abuse as a child, and Easter is one of the days that ritual abusers desecrate through their sick ceremonies.

My night terror was all about the ritual abuse. In the dream, I was sleeping in my bed when I heard/sensed someone entering my room. I opened my eyes and saw a hooded man, and all I could see of his face was eyes glowing out of the darkness of the hood. This was the way my ritual abusers dressed (without the glowing eyes), and it scared the h@#$ out of me.

I tried to wake myself up, and I “woke up” in my dream to see sunlight shining through the blinds. I looked at the clock and saw that it said 6:00 a.m. I knew I had no chance of falling back to sleep unless I did things to comfort myself, so I got up and went to the closet. I took out a comforter and focused on feeling the material to make sure I was really awake. Then, I took out a blanket and did the same thing. I piled both on my bed and snuggled up under them. (Piling on lots of covers makes me feel safe because I always knew more abuse was coming when I felt the absence of covers on my body as a child.)

I closed my eyes to sleep and sensed the presence of more people again. I opened my eyes and panicked when I saw two hooded figures with glowing eyes coming for me. I jumped up and tried to force myself awake. I even clawed my face to make sure I would wake up. Again, sunlight was shining through the window. I looked at the clock, and it had been turned off. I banged it on my night stand several times, but it would not work. I clawed myself again and then went to the closet and removed the blankets, focusing on their feel to make sure I was awake. I laid back down to sleep.

Once again, I sensed the presence of the hooded figures, and they were there when I opened my eyes. I heard a young child and reached out to grab and protect the child from them. I said, “It’s okay, ____ (younger sister),” and the child said, “No, mom. It’s me, ___ (my son).” Before I could completely panic about protecting my son from the hooded figures, my body jolted into my son, who had climbed into my bed during the night, and I woke up for real. Fortunately, my son had his elbow aimed right at me, and my body jerking into it woke me up. Thank goodness.

The weird thing is that I did exactly what I did in my dream. I looked at the clock, which said 1:00 a.m. There was no sunlight shining through the blinds. I got out the comforter and the blanket and piled it onto my bed. I was shaken as I tried to sleep. I am still shaky this morning.

If you struggle with night terrors and have lucid dreaming (where you know that you are in a dream), try screaming. That is how I usually wind up getting myself out of the night terrors. When I scream in the night terror, I have no voice, which freaks me out. However, if I keep trying, eventually my body will make a noise, and that will be enough to pull me out.

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Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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