As long as I can remember, I dreamed. Not only at night either. At school I was always getting into trouble for daydreaming, even when I was “writing a novel” that never got finished. But I did get credit for having a good imagination.
Same on school reports. Daydreamer....
Secondary school – art lessons – the lessons we loved because we were *gasp* ALLOWED to talk in them. I became popular as a storyteller – of dreams that I had had and remembered. Which was pretty much all of them, I think.
I had a recurring dream when I was young – well, actually, thinking about it, I had several. One was that the narrow dirt alleyway at the back of our row of houses, down which the dustbins were taken each week for emptying, had little flames coming up from it, and I had to fly along it to avoid being burned. It's quite likely that this dream stemmed from having fallen into our coal fire when I was three years old. My blind auntie alerted my parents, who hadn't noticed the accident. I had been let down from the tea table, having finished eating, and while the adults continued to talk, I danced, in the typical twirling little girl way, making myself so dizzy that into the fire I fell.
My arm rested on the metal grate and that is what caused the burn. I was so scared that my arm was on fire and that if I took it out then it would set the house on fire, that I stayed there holding my arm out in the flames, crying in pain.
“Why is the child crying?” asked my auntie, and that is when my parents realised that I was needing attention. My dad came and grabbed me out of the fire, carrying me through the two rooms into the kitchen, where he ran my arm under the cold water for several minutes and then bandaged it up. I can't remember my mum reacting at all. Perhaps she was in shock. Perhaps she just trusted my dad. I've no idea, just can't remember.
So anyway, I think that is why I've had recurring dreams about trying to avoid flames.
The back alley featured in another recurring dream. This one had a bear in it, that chased me down the alley towards the street at the front. In the dream there was a gate onto the street, although this wasn't there in real life. I would get through the gate and shut it, with the bear on the other side, but the bear would always break down the gate and I always woke up just as it did, when I knew I would have been eaten in the dream.
I got so used to my bear dream that I began to look forward to the bear breaking down the gate so that I could wake up and stop being scared of it.
Another recurring dream my friends in the art lesson found hilarious. There was a big colourful slide, and for some reason, I had to roll peas down the slide before I could slide down it myself. Yeah, ridiculous right!
As an adult I remained interested in dreams as I could so often remember mine so vividly. I joined an online forum that had lots of information and discussion boards all about dreaming.
I read some experiments that could be done. One woman had volunteered to have receptors placed pretty much everywhere to relay her physical state onto monitors, and would be stimulated in different ways and awoken periodically during her sleep to be asked questions about her dreams. One experiment even had her having an orgasm recorded!
There were a series of experiments that anyone could try at home and discussion of the results was encouraged. The one that I tried was to do with suggesting infinity to oneself during a period of lucid dreaming – that is, when someone knows that what they are experiencing is a dream, while they are asleep, and can manipulate their imagination to change the dream somewhat.
I became aware that I was asleep and dreaming – I can't remember what I was dreaming. I couldn't remember exactly the experiment, but I remembered enough to draw the infinity symbol, like a figure 8, in the air in my dream, and I said over and over the word “infinity”.
I had a dream that was nothing like any dream I've ever had before or since that night. It was amazing, in the most wonderful and beautiful way.
My dream became like watching a Disney animation of Creation unfolding, from the beginning of time. From the universe forming from nothing, to plants growing with beautiful scented flowers of all shapes and colours, and animals that were cute Disneyish types in pastel shades. All this was accompanied by heavenly music, something like gentle windchimes and soft flutes, along with birdsong. Usually I am immersed in my dreams, but this one was like being in a cinema and watching it as a movie. I was not a part of it but just a spectator.
So you get the idea that I am fairly aware about my dreaming. I could give many examples, but the one that I really want to tell about is the most horrifyingly scary dream I have had in my life. Even worse than the one I get teased about from my parents because I ran into their room when I was quite little, crying that I had just been eaten by a crocodile, to which their reply was on the lines of “Well if you've just been eaten by a crocodile, what are you doing in our bedroom? Now go back to bed.” Very comforting, not much.
So back to this horrifying dream. I'm not even sure I want to. Do I really have to remember how petrified I was? I have to, to be able to tell it. I hope it doesn't give me nightmares. Or you.
It was as an adult, and I had done the usual bedtime routine with my partner. We shut the door, got into our bed, which actually was just a mattress on the floor, rather than a whole bed, but that was the way we preferred it at the time. Usual settling under the covers, snuggling up a bit, light out, sleep.
I began to dream. A horrible dream, but I have had my share of those over the years and this wasn't exceptionally horrible.... yet....
In the dream, there was enormous danger. The air was electric with fright, there was darkness, there was menace, my skin was tingling and my bones were shivering. Something was going to kill me. I could hear it and sense it. I was in bed with my partner and we were going to be attacked. The door opened and a huge shaggy shadow appeared in the doorway. Eyes glowed, searching me out, and it would only take a few steps to be across the room to the bed. I started to scream my partner's name, over and over, but he wouldn't wake up. But then I woke up. Thank GOD that was a dream. Oh please don't let me dream that one again. And I then notice across the room, the door that we had closed when we came to bed, was open, and a dark shaggy shadow filled the doorway, with glowing eyes looking at me. I was awake, I had only just dreamed this and here it was for real. I screamed and screamed my partner's name and he wouldn't wake up. The creature started moving towards me with heavy footsteps. I cowered under the covers, waiting to die, whimpering with fear, skin prickling sweat, bones icy terrified cold, muscles so tensed they were cramping searing hot, so painful that whatever was going to happen it would be a relief to die and have it over with.
And then I hear my name being spoken, urgently, getting louder and I am shaken, and it is my partner asking me what is the matter. And I am so relieved that this time I really am awake.