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Terrible Nightmares: why do we have them?


Terrible nightmares: why do we have them? Last Monday morning I woke up distraught and exhausted after a cruelly vivid dream of my deceased best friend (whom I still miss terribly most days) visiting me as if she had come back from the dead. She was pregnant, a bit wild-eyed and definitely not right. The worst thing about it all was that she told me that her real surviving son (who by coincidence is 7 today) is not Mr XX’s at all (her real-life ex-husband) but in fact the product of Satan (my ex-boyfriend) and that she had come back from ‘the other side’ to tell me that she was pregnant again with his second child! Absolutely nightmarish in every degree. Awful. Why why why would I dream such a horror? What is even weirder is that she hated Satan in real life. Maybe it was simply her impending son’s birthday that triggered off something. It was so horrible.

Then this morning I woke up in a terrible flap and sobbing again as I had another awful dream – this time about running off with a morbidly obese, bespectacled African dignitary. We ran off to live in my first ever bedsit flat that I left home for 22 years ago. As I returned with nothing except this man I felt a familiar damp chill in the air as I opened my old door. It often felt colder in than out in that flat. The carpet and walls were the same but because it didn’t have my things in it any more it suddenly looked more grubby and smaller than I remember it. I turned back to look at this man and thought ‘Oh my god, what have I done?’ There was such a terrible air of finality about it all. I kept saying ‘it’s different, it’s so different but I can’t put my finger on it’. The man with his thick-rimmed glasses and dark orange stretchy top straining over his huge tummy was very patient and kind and kept saying ‘Don’t worry, it will be fine, it’s ok’ when it so obviously was not. And then the realisation which was the most nightmarish part of the dream and one thankfully that didn’t last long as it was so utterly devastating and horrific revealed itself. I turned to my elopee and said ‘I know what it is’ as I clutched both sides of my head and scrunched my hair so hard it really hurt and repeatedly choked ‘There is no H (my son in real life) here, there is no H here, that’s what it is. What have I done? What have I done?’. The sickening realisation. What had I done? I had run off with this person who was very nice and inoffensive but so ridiculously not me and had willingly abandoned my child and everything I had that was precious to me. I had not thought about the consequences until it was too late. The man said (a little more angrily and unsettlingly agitated now) ‘We can’t go back, we are here together now’ and made me lay my head on his big soft tummy. I felt trapped and helpless. It was so awful and distressing. I woke up in a panic not knowing where I was and thinking for a split-second it was all true.

I’m almost too scared to go to sleep tonight. It was one of those vivid and tiring dreams that stay with you all day. I have no idea what has set this spate of horrible emotionally fraught dreams off and am praying for sweet dreams or none at all for the next week – it’s too exhausting. What is your worst dream? And no – no cheese was involved just in case you were wondering!

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