Top 10 Recurring Nightmares

I didn't sleep well last night even though the bed is really comfortable here (I'm dog-sitting for Stephanie in King of Prussia). My first mistake was to read a quarter of the way through In Cold Blood before turning off the light. Next, my brain decided it was a good time to remind me that the house is located across from a huge cemetery. So, I don't know if I was worried that real people or ghosts would break in. Anyway, it made for a fitful night of sleep filled with at least three of my more frequent bad dream patterns.

1. The Return of the Ex-Boyfriend. In this dream, I am either faced with an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and their exuberant happiness or, worse, I dream I am still dating the ex and haven't, in fact, freed myself of his body odor.

2. You're Late and You Forgot Something Very Important! This dream centers around school anxiety. In it, I suddenly realize I haven't been attending my M/W/F calculus course for weeks and am likely failing and there's a test in five minutes but I'm about forty miles away from the classroom and riding a bus going in the wrong direction.

3. Let's Put on a Show for the Dying Orphans. This type resembles the previous one; it has to do with a last minute production and having forgotten something; namely, the lines of a play that I haven't performed since I was 17 but the curtain is going up in ten minutes to a huge crowd in Yankee Stadium and we are without microphones and have only minimal props and costumes (though it's often a very traditional play which requires both swords and hoop skirts).

4. Hi-Ho, Kitties, Away! It occurs to me that these are all anxiety dreams and not so much nightmares. The kitty dream involves me having to look after dozens and dozens of kittens who keep slipping away from me under fences or getting caught in ravines or a pack of them will take off in five different directions across a meadow of knee-high grass. It doesn't always involve kittens; sometimes it's dogs or rabbits, but the point is that I'm faced with the impossible task of saving all of them when I can't even catch one.

5. What I Should Have Said. Purely an anger dream where I'm screaming the truth at someone who I have never before in my life said one cross word. This dream is often somewhat cathartic along with being frightening.

6. Bridges and Cars. I have two real life fears and they are high bridges with small guardrails and getting into car accidents. I can trace the first fear back to the collapse of the Sky Way Bridge when I was in high school. A ship crashed into one of the pillars and knocked over a huge chunk of the bridge. Dozens of cars careened over the edge and plunged half a mile into the Gulf of Mexico. We used to drive across this bridge while it was in a state of repair and you would look over to the other side where the bridge used to be and see nothing. My bad driving dreams involve me driving a brake-less car at high speeds while not having my contacts in.

7. A Date with Death. I've only had this dream a few times in my life. It's an apocalyptic moment where I come face to face with the Devil and he whispers in my ear, You knew this was coming all along. It's a mortality dream; the end, my death and everything else that has happened previously in my life is suddenly meaningless because I'm about to die and I know that afterwards, there will be nothing.

8. Gross. Occasionally, I'll have dreams that seem straight out of a horror movie; scenes of extreme violence and mayhem, decapitated bodies and blood and general ickiness. Frequently, they seem related to the Holocaust probably because of a short phase I went through as a teenager where I was morbidly fascinated with concentration camps and checked out way too many library books filled with black and white photographs of dead bodies piled on top of one another like firewood. My time working at Gift of Life Donor Program didn't help because every week, I heard at least three true stories of untimely deaths and sometimes, they even had PowerPoint presentations to accompany them.

9. Being Thirteen. Any dream which involves me going back to the time in my life where I wore Coke-bottle glasses and dressed in hand-sewn frocks and pinafores with lace and the occasional straw hat and sported a badly done Dorothy Hamil haircut which never feathered right because I was at that time taking a political stance on vetoing aerosol hair-spray, any dream that whisks me back to those days is a nightmare.

10. Crazy/Retarded/Really Old People. As someone who craves order and good behavior by all, dreams featuring individuals who do not follow the norms of behavior are frightening. I think this stems from a Downs Syndrome kid in our neighborhood when I was seven who once cornered me and wouldn't stop kissing my face. I was horrified.

11. Doll Within a Doll Within a Doll Syndrome. Oh, wait. One more. I can't believe I forgot this one; it's my most common nightmare. For some reason, I think it has to do with the epilepsy because the sensations in it are so real that I feel like it must be the result of some erratic brain activity. It's the dream within a dream within a dream where I keep thinking I've finally woken up, but I haven't. I can really feel things in this dream, often I imagine that one of my cats is attacking me and biting my arm or that I am stuck in my blankets and fighting to get out of them. The main objective of the dream is to wake up out of the nightmare. The scary thing is that I keep thinking I have woken up, only to discover over and over that I haven't. These dreams usually end with me finally waking up and having to force myself to stay awake for a little while or risk falling back into the same pattern.

Luckily, I don't have any of the other classically bad dreams such as being buried alive or trapped under heavy things. I guess this means that I have escaped the fear of claustrophobia. I don't have the falling dream either--the one where you hopefully awake before you splat on the pavement.


julie said…
Haven't you ever had a dream that someone else in your life dies? Someone you love and would be lost without? Those are my very worst, absolutely horrific nightmares that I sometimes can't even shake off after I wake up. What an awful feeling.
Jordynn said…
I often get #2, 3, and 7. But last night I had another recurring dream: I'm naked in high school and can't figure out why I don't have any clothes on, AND, I have to go pee but all the toilets are nasty, dirty, overflowing, or lacking partitions.