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.