I think these dreams are a new thing. Well, not new but something new that I’m being forced to deal with.
I don’t exactly remember when they started but it was sometime in the last fifteen years. Dreams sometimes concerned with remarkably mundane or conventionally scary stories would fill me with terror. The dream would feel real and hopeless and terrible and all I could do was scream. I’d wake up actually screaming.
At first this only happened a couple of times a year. It was startling then and later just kind of funny. My wife’s reaction was the funniest to me. She’s a pretty deep sleeper and would roll over and say, ‘Oh, for fuck’s sake!’ or something equally tender. The dreams were no big deal and, though one particular night was ruined I could make it up soon enough.
They gradually became more frequent. Occasionally I’d realize that I was in one of these dreams and I’d understand that I could escape by screaming. More often though the screams or excited exclamations, because sometimes my wife will understand what I say especially if she’s already awake, are just a spontaneous and natural reaction to the terror that I think I’m actually experiencing.
Now the dreams themselves are the strangest part of this. Of course they are dreams so they have that natural feeling even amongst unnatural progression and circumstances. Very often they are involved with my either having been left or imprisoned. Sometimes I dream that my wife is leaving me and as I try to find her ‘cause I just know that if we can only talk… as I try to find her I realize that everyone around me suddenly have malevolent intentions for me, vague but unmistakable malevolency. Then my wife appears as their leader either laughing or leading the charge and I scream. Or in other dreams I’m bound in the dark and I know that my disinterested captor is a terrible, monstrous man. The panic in these isn’t about what he plans to do it’s simply that he’s caught me.
OK, I know that there’s nothing less interesting than another’s dreams so I leave that there. You get the idea of some of the basic themes without having to sit through the specific plots.
As of a few months ago I was having these dreams once or twice a month. Still bearable and, though no longer funny, I was dealing. But a couple of weeks ago they suddenly became more frequent. I’m having them nightly now. Twice last night. In fact I can say with a fair amount of certainty that every time I’ve fallen asleep during the past week I’ve been awoken by one of these dreams.
Now I’ve read that we only remember the dreams that we wake up during so perhaps I have always had terrifying dreams but now they’re waking up more frequently. Or perhaps whatever torment bubbles up from my subconscious during them gets closer to the surface all the time.
But whatever the reason I can’t take much more of this. And I don’t have a clue as to how to fix it. I’ve tried sleeping pills; they only leave me trapped in the terror longer before my groggy body can wrench me out of it.