I woke up screaming at 2 am after experiencing a nightmare.
This certainly was not the first time I’ve had bad dreams- often when I am stressed or anxious about a meeting, a test, even the amount of work ahead of me, my sleep has been fitful or disturbed. My dreams include strange and weird images. But this was different. This was terrifying darkness and powerlessness. This was screaming in sleep and out loud. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what this dream means.
I’m in a dark room, laying on a bed. Someone outside the room is keeping guard. I’m shouting to let me out- please! But the person doesn’t respond. I realize I’m dreaming within a dream, and try to wake up. I’m paralyzed, just lying on this bed. Wake up, wake up! Until finally, someone shoves me and I am, in fact, awake.
I have never been so happy to see my room in Boston, dimly lit from the moon peeping in through the curtains, my stuffed animals strewn about the sheets. After a few deep breaths, I felt a little calmer, but disoriented still. I clutched my penguin Plush and tried to fall back asleep.
This weekend I revised about 25 pages of my memoir. Revision may indeed be harder than writing in the first place. After receiving feedback from my classmates, I was forced to grapple with the questions they posed to make my narrative clearer.
“Why did the narrator (me) say she didn’t believe in God when this is a memoir about faith?”
“What made the narrator hide the fact that she was traveling by herself?”
“Why does the narrator feel so guilty about almost everything?”
I kept writing and deleting, writing and deleting. I found myself scratching my head.
I don’t know why.
Just as nightmares illuminate possible emotions we are hiding deep within, perhaps these questions led to a stir where there has long been no movement. The only way for me to understand this terrible, terrible dream is to wonder what came up as I faced these questions, trying to honestly tell the story of my life and my journey. Darkness. Paralysis. As if stirring kicks up dust we are forced to inhale, sneeze, and clear away.