This blog isn't going to be all that deep. Its title may give it more weight that it realistically deserves. This blog is just about one of the most important skills my mother ever taught me. I feel like my parents taught me so many important things as a child. Things I have carried with me and things that have helped me to get where I am today. How to tie my shoes, how to brush my teeth and maybe most importantly how to say "please" and "thank you" and be a gracious winner and loser.
Who knew the one special skill would float to the forefront in today's blog. I know I have spoken of my night terrors so many times over the course of this past year. As a child, I had so many nightmares. So many scary dreams. Many of them would repeat from year-to-year. The one I continue to remember most vividly, is the one that would occur on my b-day each and every year. Like clockwork. I would go to bed that evening, knowing that I would have the scary dream again. I would tell friends about it and I would basically anticipate the dream.
The short of the dream is that it was revolutionary war times. I was dressed in a long dress, boots and bonnet. I was running through the woods and I came to a clearing. In the clearing there were many log cabins. In the center of the log cabins on the ground was a map. It was a map that was on a stone in the ground. I, to this day, still am not sure sure what was on the map, but can picture it when I close my eyes. I would be looking at the map and I would look up and suddenly I was surrounded by men on horseback. I was scared, so scared in this dream each year. Each year, I would look up to the men and say to them "Please don't kill me today, I am only 8, 9, 10, etc. years old, please wait until my next b-day." Or something to that effect. I would have this dream every year on my b-day. There are many more details to the dream including seeing my neighbors, The Provosts, being in my dream each year, and the sheer terror I felt running through those woods. Each year I would have the dream and each year they would decide to let me go and live another year.
There were many dreams like this. After dreams like this, I would climb out of bed, dripping in sweat and knock on my parents' door. They would tell me it was only a dream and to go back to bed. After awhile, I think when it was realized it was a continued problem for me, my mother taught me something I will forever be grateful for. My mother taught me that I had the power to become aware in my dreams. My mother told me, the next time I was having a bad dream to try and find a way to wake myself up. To try and find a way to become aware of what was going on and if anything seemed too awful, or bad, or scary to see if I could wake myself up.
This honestly became something that I quickly learned how to do. It didn't stop the bad dreams from coming, but it gave me some power during them. I am not sure that I always posses this power, but as recently as Friday evening, I was able to use this power I posses to wake myself up from a scary dream. I was able to find a way, within my dream, to say, this cannot be real, this cannot be real. Try and open your eyes Patty, just try and open your eyes.
This weekend I had a dream that I had an awful headache. Shortly after my awful headache I began bleeding severely out through the nose and mouth. For someone who hasn't had very many nose bleeds, it is amazing how real and vivid things can feel in your dream. In my dream I looked in the mirror in my bathroom and I said to myself, Open your eyes Patty, Open your eyes, wake up, Patty, wake up. Getting to the point of basically screaming at myself, willing me to wake up. It was the most bizarre thing because I was able to wake-up, yet I was in another dream. It was like in my dream, I was having a bad dream.
Normally when I am able to wake myself up from a scary dream, I wake up to a crazy fast heart rate, blood pumping, high blood pressure and just petrified. I normally wake-up super fast and startle myself. This dream within a dream allowed me to wake myself up from the dream and then gradually wake myself up from that dream. For the first time, maybe ever, I was able to wake myself up and not find myself in this state of panic, in this extreme fight or flight, guarded mess.
Whenever I wake up quickly, whether it be hearing the cat throw up in the next room, having him jump on the bed, having someone ring our buzzer because they forgot their keys or a huge bolt of lightening, I always find myself in this awful panicked state. It was pretty incredible to see the way the dream within a dream was able to protect me from this fight or flight, panic.
I have to admit, I was excited to realize I still have the ability to wake myself up. I still have the ability to find a tiny bit of awareness within these scary dreams I continue to create for myself. I continue to wonder where dreams come from. I continue to wonder why I had so many terrifying dreams as a child. Dreams of dogs chasing me down, dreams of soldiers surrounding me with guns on horseback, dreams of running out of castles and finding a dead woman floating in a pond, dreams of Freddy Kruger chasing me. So many dreams that would happen again and again and again. Scary dreams of being chased and caught. Night after night of falling asleep with the lights on, yet waking up in a pile of sweat.
As empowering as this amazing talent is, the challenge has been when it doesn't work. There have been so many times things have happened in my life that I have told myself "this just has to be a bad dream." Have tried in those moments of sadness, anger and terror to tell myself, "wake up Patty, just wake up". "Open you eyes Patty, just open your eyes." And quickly realized that the trick only works when you are asleep.
It is very possible for awful, sad, scary and frustrating things to happen in the real world, in the waking world. It is very possible that there will be times when I want what just happened to be nothing more than a bad dream. So many times when after trying to convincing myself it was only a bad dream, I realized that this time, again, I was wrong. It was life. It was really difficult, really sad and scary real-life things happening in real life.
As difficult as it is to have to be reminded again and again that bad things do happen in real life and that scary things continue to happen in real life, I remain grateful for the times, for the dreams I am able to escape from. I will never be able to escape from real life. It is important to be involved, engaged and present in life--in the good and the bad. Admitting that life is hard, I remain grateful for the ability to escape dreamland as life is hard enough, in the waking world.
I do still, however, have the power to wake up to what is important. Wake up to the power of making a difference, change and love. While there are some scary things that happen and some awful things that happen that I wish never did, this will never take away my ability to become aware of new things. To awaken to new things, new experiences. These bad things will never take aware my ability to learn and grow and my ability to wake-up in a new way. Not in the typical scary dream sense, but in the ability to see things new and appreciate them in a new way. For this, I remain grateful!
While I may never fully understand dreams, their role and purpose, I continue to remain grateful for this life, the good, the bad and the ugly. I truly believe I am a spirit enjoying a human experience and have to trust that the assignments and experiences that occur happen for a reason.
Namaste, and wishing you the all the sweetest dreams!
And that's all she wrote....