I know that dreams are often our psyche’s way of addressing fears, hopes, issues that we haven’t dealt with in our waking life. What of nightmares? Do they betray our deepest fears?
Several years ago, I went through a period of having terrible dreams. The word “nightmare” didn’t even begin to describe what I saw and felt. The only thing I could relate it to was September 11th, when I watched on live news coverage as the second plane barreled into the North Tower and I began to realize that it was not an accident. The images of that day have stayed with me all of these years, and they are the only real-world images I’ve seen that correspond in some fashion to these night terrors I’ve had. Many friends and family told me to stop watching the news, to read my Bible before I went to sleep, et cetera. All well-intended words, I know.
But what happens when that doesn’t work? It didn’t work. The nightmares kept coming. I don’t recall the details of all of them; but I recall many of them. I recall the last one I had–and I truly thought it was going to be the last one–dealt with children on a boat. It was awful.
But it wasn’t the last one. Three nights ago, I had another. I couldn’t grasp all of the details, but I recognized people, sounds, and smells in the dream that told me it was another of these nightmares. People were…ah. Never mind. I prayed and prayed–“God, give me peace; God, stay near to me; God, keep us safe.” And I, like a rational being, dismissed this again as a one-time thing.
The night before last, I had another dream. I didn’t recognize anyone in the dream except one person. I don’t think I was even in this dream, which is odd. I think it’s the first time I’ve not been in my own dream. But it was not me, it was not familiar, and I couldn’t make sense of it at all. I don’t know that I would have even recognized it as a bad dream, except that it was “raining sand”–which had occurred in the very first nightmare I remember having as a child–and when the sand touched people, it burned. Not so much like fire, but a chemical burn. The agony of the people in this dream was unbearable. I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep because of the screams and the smell. I don’t know what the smell was, but I will know it if I ever smell it.
Last night, I read my Bible longer than normal. And after that, I finished a book about Fanny Crosby that I’ve been reading. It was well into the morning before I dared to close my eyes. And when I did, I prayed that I would not dream again. But I did. Many people were in this dream. There was a lot of fire. A lot of fire. Oddly, at one point in the dream, I got into a fight with a woman dressed in dark gray and purple. We were fighting over a rat. I think I had decided to kill the rat, cook it, and give everybody in the room an equal bite of it; she had decided to take the rat and eat it all herself. In the end, I fought with her and won. The most terrifying thing about this dream was that we knew what was coming. We knew that we were going to be burned in the fire, but we also knew that it wasn’t going to kill us.
So tell me–will these dreams go away if I stop watching the news? The only thing I can do is take them in stride. I don’t know why I’m having these dreams again, and I’ll be glad when they stop.
God, be with my sister. Keep her safe.