Last night I woke up in a full sweat, heart thudding out of my chest, lost to my present location. I can’t remember the whole dream, but instead, I’m stuck with the end playing over on repeat in my head. A nightmare I can’t quite wake from. A gunshot rang out and when I close my eyes I hear it again.
I see it.
As a small child, I used to have nightmares. They started somewhere around the time I could count my age on two hands and lasted off and on into my teenage years. I struggled to sleep and often fought it to the point of insomnia. I can remember once being so sleep deprived as a teenager, that a poster started to talk to me. It stands as one of my weirdest memories.
Enter Dream For an Insomniac. Somewhere around sixteen or seventeen, I saw the Tiffanie DeBartolo film for the first time. In so many ways, I relate to this film more than I do or have any other in the history of film. Here was a woman, Frankie (played by Ione Sky) who struggles to sleep, the way I did. The older I got, I related for very different reasons. We have a shared beliefe that life is short. There are too many things in life for which we settle. I refuse to do so where it matters. Love should be extrodinary. What you do for a living should make you smile or bring some sort of passion for life. Friends should cause a spark and ignite something inside of you. There aren’t too many things I regret doing and my biggest regrets are the things I didn’t do or say out of fear. I’ve learned to either work my ass off and get what I want out of life or I change my mind.
But how does all of this relate to my inablity to sleep or the crazy nightmare I had last night? This is a film about a smart woman with big dreams and a zest for life who can’t sleep. Enough said. Also, I watched this movie for the first time in a fit of insomnia. But for real, I think I can draw connections to my own life and not always in good ways. Also, I digress easy.
I moved away from these long night and for a short time, settled into some form of normalcy. Then I took a job where I developed PTSD and the nightmares came back. Only this time insetead of some manifistaion of my own life, they were dreams about things I’d heard while at work. The worst of humanity so to speak. All I ever wanted to do was help people and so for that reason alone, I’m glad I was a 911 call taker and dispatcher. But I don’t have the spirit for it. I was broken quite easily and I hated it for more reasons than I can count. Each one of them haunts me in the most random moments of a normal day. I’ve heard people die, take their own lives, beat the shit out of each other. I’ve been the last person someone talked to before they talked no more.
If I didn’t already think most people sucked then that job solidified my temperance with regards to people. Of trying to make friends. I just didn’t know how to do it anymore. I’d look at people and wonder what dirty secret they have. What have they done that causes shame. Can they be trusted? Can anyone really be trusted?
I already had trust issues but they grew deeper and developed roots that were thick and iron clad.
So I quit my job and went back to school for the billionth time. Eventually, my anxiety was back at a normal and functional level. I moved on with life and had a few adventures and eventually landed where I am today.
So what happened that caused the recent rockslide in my life? That perpetrated a hole through the calm and brought about a nightmare? PTSD is a funny thing. Not really. But it does like to rear its ugly head from time to time. This past week was rough. I’m a high school teacher and I’m honored when students feel like they can talk to me. That they can confide in me. And I’m thankful I’m a mandatory reporter, there’s never a question about what my next step is.
But damnit, people suck.
Three times this week I had children, they are after all just fucking children, come to me in tears because life is unfair. Because things happened to them and they don’t know who else to talk to. Because I’m the safe person to tell in their life. Of all the people who should be there for them to confide in, I’m that person.
How fucked up and unfair is that?
I think as much as I try to leave it behind and at work, I’m not good at the forgetting. Of putting it out of my head and living my life. I struggle with that and it keeps me up at night. I try to immerse myself in other things come nightfall. Throw in the fact that I’m a natural night owl and I feel like there’s an innate tendency to lose time. I’ve been taking a sleep aid for the last six months and it has helped immensely. Within two hours of taking it, the world becomes hazy, and I’m able to let my thoughts go.
When the normal is combined with a plethora of life’s other sprinkles, deadlines, hiccups, and hangups and somehow it manifests itself into two nightmares back to back.
Emotionally and physically.
I just got back from vacation and I’m already counting down until the next. Which makes me wonder if my inclinations to uproot and settle somewhere else haven’t been all that off. I’ve been circumnavigating this idea for a couple of years now. Maybe it’s time I take it more seriously. Weigh all of my options. Decide if what I’m doing is really what I should be doing. If where I am, is really the best place for me. I deserve to be happy and healthy and excited for life.
Is this a midlife crisis? Is there a fancy little red sports car in my future?
I suppose it could be worse. We both know I’d rock a fancy little sports car. Okay, can I have a larger sports car? I’m a tall person and I require ample leg room. Plus I like having a back seat. Okay… hmm…. maybe a sports car isn’t really my thing. Can I have a midlife midsize car? I could sport around in that. Let’s just paint my current car. I love my car. But it could be a brighter color.
I love color.
2 thoughts on “On Insomnia and Nightmares”
Miranda, I felt like I was reading my life story just now, about the work-related PTSD anyway. I am a nurse and we are just plain awful to each other. There’s so much covert bullying that goes on and for some reason, I just fell victim to it. I was a single mother of 4 children early in my career and I think I didn’t stand up for myself as well as I could have out of fear of losing whatever shit job I had at the moment.
It really was horrific and has left so many wounds. Just when I think I’m getting better something triggers all the bad memories. I have made quite a bit of progress I think but damn it’s been slow. Why? Because people suck!
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Thank you for sharing. This is how I’ve felt this week. I know I’m miles and miles from where I was. But man sometimes it rears it’s ugly head and it’s like a hundred bad memories come flooding back. People suck. I’m working through it on the regular. Learning to trust and put myself out there all over again. PTSD is a bitch but I refuse to let it rule my life.