There is not, for those of us who experience it, just one kind of insomnia. There’s an insomnia, or several, for everyone. For the anxiety-brained, the temperature-sensitive, the blood-sugar precarious, the increasingly incontinent and prostate-terrorized, nocturnal-feline harangued…I could go on, and likely you could add a category or two, but I’ve made my point. Insomnia is a many headed hydra which can strike at any time, for any reason.
Last night, it was emotionally-charged, brain-cycling, worry-driven front-end insomnia. You know the nights when you are exhausted…but you still lay awake for minutes or, in my case, hours batting away anxious thoughts and overwhelming emotions like mosquitoes on a sticky Summer night after a heavy rain.
But eventually…the night engulfed me, and as I drifted, perhaps never quite reaching the depths of nourishing sleep, I had the dream.
You have your “the dream” and I have mine.
My “the dream” has not always been the same “the dream.” Sometimes there are multiple “the dream” vignettes. But usually, for me, I contend with one at a time.
It used to be plummeting. Just…plummeting toward a head and neck injury. Falling and falling and eventually landing crown first as my body jolted awake in a cold sweat.
I don’t have that “the dream” anymore. No, there’s a new menace lurking in my unconscious neurology.
Last night it was lucid enough that I was able to remember details. Here is what I wrote just after waking:
I’m in…I presume high school. It’s always utterly…unfamiliar. Lockers upon lockers, odd hallways, additions. I can’t figure out either where the very important class where I need to be is -or- my locker. I need the locker which has the text. I need the text because there is an extensive reading that must be complete for said class. At times, while searching out the impossible-to-find locker, I’m panicked. At other times, I’m angry. Eventually, when I realize there will be a lock on the door in which the book resides and that I do not remember the combination – I become reserved. I seem calm on the outside. I can even smile, chat, etc. But forever and ever I walk through the high school maze, a sense of deep, deep dread constantly coursing through my gut.
The class…I’m later and later and later. So I walk and search…slower and slower and slower. Better to stall. The lockers…as time expands, and time is expanding…slowing…they lose even familiarity. Early in the dream, I can sense, at times, that I’m very close. But further into the story, I encounter new lockers, red lockers, rusted lockers with lift handles, tall lockers without locks or mechanisms. The scene changes seamlessly. I don’t recognize differences until I’m staring at an unending line of options that are distinctly different than the unending line of options in which I’d just been wandering. It’s like a practical joke. And it’s not at all funny.
The lock…the fact is, although it’s clear I’ll never find the locker and I’ll never get the book and never will I enter that classroom, I don’t have even the phantom of recollection of the combination.
So why not just abandon ship?
Because in dreams, in low key nightmares, we are captive to our brains, which seem to be captive to emotions, which seem to be captive to our brains, because in dreams, in low key nightmares, we are captive to our brains, which seem to be captive to emotions, and eventually, either the dream fades as deeper sleep engulfs me (…which was not the case last night…) or I awaken (…as I did today…) and the dream can be remembered. Recorded.
And the emotions linger. Ominous dread in which I might drown. I know it was a dream, but I’m skeptical. I must have forgotten something. That’s the only reason for the dream, right? And I cycle for a few minutes here…until finally, homeostasis finds me and I can start the day. Mostly calm. Mostly.
I hate the dream…but I know it’s communicating something very important.