Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Sometimes I let the nightmares keep me in bed.
I’d be lucid, but not in control, allowing turmoil to play out in front of me, scratching up the clean slate sleep provides. After what felt like minutes had stretched over hours, I’d finally end the visions, overcome with apathy to greet the day.
I had to trick myself into believing there was no truth to bad dreams.
Because a bad dream was an admission of sorts, mirroring negative thought patterns or insecurities that take up residence in our waking lives. But even a nightmare serves to ease the burden of willpowering through all the spiritual work of clearing on our own.
Dreams are divine processors of life’s challenges, sometimes reflecting back to us our greatest fears and struggles.
While nightmares weasel themselves into some of the most tender crevices of our consciousness or keep us in bed longer, something is loosed once those movies play across our mind, more space for lightness is made. They reach the heart of an issue often before we’re willing to. They appear complex, but break perplexingly persistent patterns in the most logical, irrational way, that's non-linear and free of conventions.
The man who slept next to me had the worst nightmares, every night, without fail. He’d murmur or yelp in a disturbingly unnatural way, waking me up, scaring me too.
“Your dreams are reflecting the way you’re thinking when you’re awake,” I snapped at him one day, tired of hearing him complain, all empathy lost to the annoyance of shared experience. Proximity was a b*&!h, and I didn’t want his crap juju rubbing off on me. “Maybe you should start thinking differently.”
“I can’t take this anymore!” I yelled at him after one especially startling, dream-induced groan, “You wake me up so much with your nightmares, I’m gonna have to go sleep on the couch.”
Silence reigned between us for a thick moment.
“I know what you mean,” his calm voice wafted over through the darkness.
The words sunk into my consciousness, a thud in my belly.
I had nightmares, too. Not irregularly, I shot up in bed, soaked in sweat, gasping. Called out to no one. Woke up the man sleeping beside me, scaring him too.
I wanted to be above and beyond bad dreams, because they made me feel like I was doing it wrong.
I’d come to believe that having nightmares meant admitting to being negative, and these days, that was like wearing a scarlet letter. It meant admitting a truth so many decided to plaster over with memes and oversimplified, readymade inspirations.
Be the reason someone smiles today
A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset
Expect nothing, appreciate everything
Positive Vibes Only
The real truth was, people woke up on the wrong side of the bed, sometimes lugging bummer vibes through their whole day, or lifetime. Not everyone had the tools or know-how to guide their emotions toward a positive bent. Some weren’t willing or simply didn’t want to. It can feel kinda good to feel bad, especially if it’s familiar.
Sometimes, I was that person.
Not ever for as long as before, when I lived in an endlessly spiraling whirlpool of chaos and blame, a victim of life. By now, I’d done my fair share of spiritual seeking and self-development study. I knew too much to stay stuck forever. But no amount of Tony Robbins pep talks or Taoisms could completely erase the lingering sadness that resided in my heart, the cloudy doubt that hid my importance from myself and the sneaky depression that needled into my dreams and knocked me down a peg before I even got out of bed in the morning.
It was easy to hide. To tuck those parts of me away from the virtual world where people thought I had my shit together and I was “inspirational.”My Insta was light and bright and filled with pictures of a panda cat. Meticulously angled shots that erased any proof of a double chin. Happy places and plants and life’s little adventures.
No, I wasn’t like the ones we avoid and ignore, because, well, they’re negative.
Everyone did it. No one wanted to admit it.
Judgment was just as rampant and accepted as it ever was. Especially of Self.
Do we ever escape our own scrutiny?
Worse than being judged by “them” for being troubled or depressed or any understandable mix of confusing emotions that accompany just trying to make it in this modern world, is the relentless beating up on ourselves for feeling how we feel.
Bad dreams or no, that simply cannot stand.
Dreams cycle through.
Emotions are fluid.
Everything operates in an eternal state of change.
Healing can be just as ugly and painful as the sun is bright.
Nothing is what it seems.
Quick to judge is apt to miss the hidden gem of insight that’s oh so valuable, immensely precious, and often disguised in that which feels uncomfortable, unattractive and undesirable.
Just as I may never shake bad dreams, a new day always dawns.
The nightmare may give way to a slower rise, but it’s a rise nonetheless.