Hush little baby don’t say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It’s just the beast under your bed
In your closet in your head
The other night, I woke up and stretched my arm out to the empty side of the bed and felt an arm there. I froze and tried to think. I didn’t know what to do. So I screamed. Tried to scream. The scream wouldn’t come out. I tried and tried to scream until I woke myself up not because of the scream but because of…adrenaline, I suppose. Terror.
In Junior High PE class we used to practice screaming as part of our self defense training. I was great at it. So great I should have been in a horror film at it. An example to other screamers great at it.
When I’m asleep I am never able to scream when I’m in danger, and apparently I scream in my sleep fairly often. So if you have been one of my bed partners in the past, or hope to be in the future, you have my sincere apologies.
Why do I scream, or try to scream? Nightmares. Sometimes very frequent, almost nightly. Mostly I wake up screaming every month or so. Sometimes I can remember them, but mostly I have little or no recollection of what I was dreaming, just the sense of residual terror…or perhaps a vague sense of pursuit, violence or evil. In the dreams I remember, I am not usually the direct target– the horrible things are happening to someone else.
There’s often a sense of complicity to the horror that remains when I awaken, even if I can’t quite remember what happened. I save myself at the cost of another. Running away more quickly than someone else. Hiding. Observing. Guilty of and by inaction.
They’re just dreams, right?
It’s fascinating how a body responds, though, to something that doesn’t even exist. Exactly as it does for real danger. The body has no clue what is real, it just does what the brain tells it to do. Or is it real if my brain and body agree that it is?
How do I know what is real myself if my brain thinks there is someone in bed with me who shouldn’t be? Or if my brain lets me watch a small child be flayed alive while I am asleep?
I guess that’s the point. My brain doesn’t know and so I don’t know, not really. Is “real” only a construct of belief? Does believing something make it real? Or more real?
When does real become real?
And why do we call something “just a dream” when the mind and body both think it’s real?
I think I’ll just play “Enter Sandman” again and stop thinking about it…