Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dreams, continuing the A-Z challenge

Daydreams are where I want to live; night dreams are where I fear to visit...

That was my mantra for years and years and years.  I have always had vivid dreams.  I'm not just saying that so I can claim yet another special talent either.  I have scientific proof!  My sleep study from 2010 documented some such evidence.  The problem is, after some intense stuff, I learned they weren't just dreams, either.

As I've talked openly about before, I was diagnosed with PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, about 18 months after Olivia died.  Everyone experiences events in their own ways.  Everyone grieves in their own ways.  Not everyone whose child dies will be diagnosed with PTSD.  There is a long list of criteria.  I think looking back now, what is shocking is that it took so long to get the diagnosis.  I'd had symptoms for a long time.

One of the key symptoms is what most people recognize as flashbacks.  It's a visual reliving of a traumatic event.  I think the term lends itself to being perceived as an event that happens when one is awake as well.  If you've ever watched a television show or movie about a war vet, you've probably seen it portrayed that way.  That's all I knew about it.

In my life, that's not really how it presented itself.  Every time I closed my eyes, the scenes played like a horror movie that was my life.  The Dreams weren't dreams.  They were events I lived.  They were scenes in which I was the main character.  When my eyes opened, frequently, my heart was racing to the beat of a race car's engine.  I'd need a trash can or toilet because my stomach was still on that race track.  My hair, face, and downward were soaked from perspiration, and on and on.

These episodes were random for a while and then so regular that I avoided sleep in fear of them.  It was at that point when the daytime ones started.  Something  that reminded me of an event would trigger it.  That is when I started losing what little bit of life I'd started rebuilding.

My solace had become my daydreams.  I sat in bed and pretended.  I pretended I was on a far away beach.  That is like my safety word.  It's certainly my safe place.  After Olivia died, I spent way too much money and went to the Florida Keys.

 I'd always wanted to go and at that point, my mindset was "fuck it".  I didn't care if I'd need the money later.  I didn't care about anything except feeling the warm, soft sand between my toes that had been in bed with her tiny body for months.  I longed for beautiful, peaceful visions for my eyes that had seen nothing but death and ugliness for so long.  I craved the whispers of the breeze through palm trees instead of I.V. pumps, O2 sensors, and my own wailing.  I wanted to be completely selfish and try to find something that could take away the inner anguish of my mind and my soul.

I think I was foolish to think that was possible.  Except that it happened for brief moments during those seven days.  I took about seven books.  I took my little iPod shuffle.  I took not enough sunscreen.  And, other than some oopsies, it was my daydreams come true.  The physical beauty healed my raw eyes.  They natural audio was salve to my hurt ears that could only hear my daughter's pain over and over.  The beautiful, warm sand sloughed off the calloused skin and metaphorically set me on a new path.

And so it was for those days in April, 2008, until I returned home.  When I came home to the same environment that caused all of the pain, it was so very hard to withstand the gravitational pull of the damned dreams of the days and nights.

Fast forward to April 2012...My daydreams and night dreams mesh more often now, in a happy place.  There isn't as much fear and darkness.  I am on that beach with the coconut rolling off the tree.  The only difference is that I don't fall asleep on my side.  I don't want that wicked side-lobster burn in my happy dream.  And, there is almost always a conch fritter with a chocolate covered frozen key lime pie for dessert.

my view every day...just us old folks


  1. This is beautiful! I love to read your writing! I wonder if the recurrences continued until you reached something- acceptance, understanding, truth or resolve. Like the mind replays it over and over- like trying to solve a rubix cube- piece by piece you get closer to an ideal result even though you couldn't notice it during or after your experience (dream). And then one day... the night and day dreams have blended. What a strong woman you are!!!

    I don't know what dreams mean to everyone else, but I accept them as a piece of me. A way I process information or another life I live. I have very vivid dreams like you describe but without the reliving of an actual event. I thank God I haven't. It's sad to read that you didn't just experience losing Olivia once, but you went through it over and over again. Wow. Again, what a strong woman.... you've swam a lot of ocean without drowning to reach the beach of rest.

    1. Thank you! It happened until I went through some very intense therapy, EMDR. I will write about that at some point. I think they'll still pop up sometimes when exceptionally hard times hit, but it's peaceful right now and I'll take that!


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