Saturday, January 7, 2012

As if it were real

Sleeping near the water has always had an effect on my dreams, at times leading to vividly unsettling awakenings. In the movies, when the protagonists are suddenly awakened from a disturbing dream, they sit straight up in the bed, with a startled stare in their eyes and sweat on their forehead, as they gasp for breath and gulp at the reality of it only being a dream. Or if it were a younger person, they would be awakened by the gentle pleadings of a vigilant family member in a bathrobe, coddling them in their arms and assuring them of their safety. These dramatic flourishes seem to only exist in movies because, in my experience, I have rarely sat up in the bed with a start or had someone, already awake, tapping my hand or patting my shoulder but rather found myself roused in the physicality of the nightmarish moment as if it were real.

Usually the moment comes upon me without warning or prescience in the dream. And usually, it follows one of the recurring motifs of me struggling to collate documents for something, travel from one place to another - whether around the corner, cross town or to another country - or trying to get to one of the ever mutating multiple residences I seem to have but have misplaced or lost directions for in these dreams. The rig-a-ma-roll in these ventures tend to be benign until it leads to a disagreement, usually with someone emotionally close, and escalates into a yelling or fighting match, which will awaken me hollering or shouting at the person and in an instance, hitting my partner, even if it wasn't about him. Other times the dream is interrupted by an unanticipated turn of events, like a animal suddenly lashing out and chasing and biting at me or walking through a door and abruptly encountering menacing figures lurching at me with claws or weapons or slipping from an unstable surface off into an abyss looming below.

Weaving toward awakening, still in the moment, crying out in the dark, with hands or arms flailing and fear or anger filling my body, I grasp for safety. My accelerated heart beat adding to the throbbing of nerve endings, as my pulse races and my breathing shortens. At times, I would unfortunately awaken my partner with a scream or punch, inadvertently pulling him into my nightmare, from his own restful sleep. Scratching for the reality that it was only a dream, seems to elude me in the ensuing moments because it felt so real. The space between our dreams and real life does not exist in these moments and reveals to me that we essentially tread between two worlds - the conscious and unconscious.

The reason for these turns in dreams is unclear and can be assumed to rest in the unsettled issues of our wakened hours, however, the closeness of them to our reality is not below the surface but actually there as a racing heart and the startled face of an awakened lover might reveal.

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