I'm prone to nightmares. I have been since I was a little girl. I remember vividly a dream I had routinely when I was 6 or 7. A dream so terrifying that I would will myself to stay awake as long as possible, squeeze my eyes tight to keep from seeing the ghosts dance across the walls - knowing and yet not knowing they were cast by the few passing cars. And, eventually, falling asleep only to wake drenched in terror. I missed a bit of school because of them - school I loved but was too exhausted to get to for a few days. And then they passed. Maybe my parents prayed over me at night. Maybe I learned more self-soothing techniques. I do remember laying in bed and trying to think about happy things - Snoopy cartoons and silly, happy songs, mostly.
I still do that.
When I remember.
It's harder now. You can't just call in to work and say 'I'm not coming in, I had nightmares.' You can't just sleep with the lights on when someone else is in the room. I wish, in this instance, I had a less powerful imagination. I wish that when I woke up the specters didn't linger. And I wish that the stress and worry that causes them would just move on. No, not move on - evaporate. This isn't a tide we want turning again and again.
And, I wish I didn't believe that dreams are, on some level, messengers. That they return until you know what they are saying. I think that's the most upsetting part - the dread, laying in bed, craving and fearing sleep. I wish that, like my transcendent friend Scrooge, I could write my wraiths off as a bad bit of cheese, roll back over, and go back to sleep.