Night terrors…

Please tell the voices in my head to shut up.

The problem with having a very active imagination and a dramatic flair is really horrible recurring nightmares.
I have always had oddly detailed freaky night terrors, dating back to my childhood, but with motherhood came new, more terrifying, ones.
Because of course now I have something really precious to lose… my children.

For a while I had nightmares of escaping a zombie invasion with my daughter, then two. I would watch zombies kill her over and over again because I simply couldn’t explain to her why she needed to be quiet while we hid from them.

However, ever since Nick drowned last year, my nightmares have taken a more horribly realistic turn.

Night after night I wake up with images of Oliver falling into a swimming pool, eyes open, little air bubbles coming out of his mouth, soft baby hair swaying with the lapping of the water.
I am underwater with him, looking up at his struggling little profile, unable to get him out.

I always wake up before he drowns, but after he has taken his first watery breath.

I wake up shaking and horrified, once again wondering if Nick was aware when he began to drown, if he felt that first breath of water, if he knew.

I can lock the images away, snuggle close to the baby and go back to a dreamless sleep, but it takes a toll.

There is another one, of Marlena, but in this one we are at the ocean.

I am there with the kids, sitting under a beach umbrella with Oliver, while I watch Marlena splash at the water’s edge. Suddenly she stumbles into the waves, and is pulled out to the sea.

I am frozen, terrified as I search for her head in the waves, holding the baby in one arm while I try to find her anywhere in the vast, deep, wholly unforgiving, sea.

I wake up before I find her, pregnant with unshed tears and terror.

I understand from a psych 101 perspective that my subconscious mind is dealing with my fear of being unable to protect my children. I get it. However, that information is very little comfort in the dark quiet parts of the night.

Snuggling my baby, checking on my little girl. Those two actions are the only things that help the sense of horror go away.

I wish I had a less creative imagination. I wish I dreamed of zombies again, or nuclear attack, or something other than the cold lonely terror of drowning.

10 thoughts on “Night terrors…”

  1. No, honey, nuclear attack dreams suck too.

    Regarding the drowning dreams, you know why you’re having them. Perhaps it would help to sign both up for swim lessons RIGHT NOW. You know the dream is irrational, but taking positive action does help to control the deep fear. At least that worked for me when I took karate classes. Dreams where I was being attacked by unstoppable monsters went entirely away.

    So there’s my advice. Swim lessons. Not someday but *now*. And tell yourself that Nick never felt it, because torturing yourself over it isn’t helping you come to peace with his death. You don’t know and you never will. Use your imagination, your very detailed imagination, and fill in that section.

    I love you. He loved you.

    May you find peace with his passing THIS year.

    And if I piss you off with this comment, call me and yell. I’m always here.

  2. You don’t piss me off with the comment. But I might call anyway!

    I think swim lessons are a great idea, but there is nowhere I can currently enroll them.

    Marlena is much better swimming now, so maybe I can take them to the pool on my own.

    I also think I may need therapy. A lot of therapy.

  3. For me its Chloe drowning in the bathtub. She slipped once and I saw her go under the water with the look of terror in her eyes. I will never get that out of my mind. I know this probably doesn’t help you, but I can certainly relate.

  4. Okay this is OT but I could have sworn you were on my feed reader and you aren’t. I thought today ‘Scylla is MIA, she sure hasn’t blogged in a while, lemmie go see if her site has an ’email me’ option’ and I find that you’ve been posting all along!

    I have some catching up to do!!

  5. It’s nice to know that I would be missed if I went MIA, Maria. Thanks for checking in, it cheered me.

  6. Nightmares where bad things happen to our children are the worst.

    For some reasons I’ve been having horrific nightmares about snakes, and I’m no even afraid of snakes.

  7. I had them after Tony died.

    They go away eventually. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out: they’re about the fact that people we’ve grown to count on can nevertheless be unceremoniously eliminated, with no warning and without our permission . Was that the “Nausea” that Sarte was talking about?

    I dealt with it by looking around for areas of my life that I CAN control, and focusing on them. (Law school was about the worst environment for that!)

    That’s why I like the idea of swimming lessons.

  8. The analysis only helps by daylight. I like the advice to pursue swim lessons; you’ll feel like you’re taking action, and that’ll help. And the therapy? Go. Do it. Hugs to you — and to your little ones, too.

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