I’m finally being seen by the concussion specialist.  I waited nearly two months for this appointment.  He tests a bunch of reflexes and then asks, “How’s your sleep?”

“Oh god.”  I explain how it seems to be getting more normal–but also how I need more than 8 hours, sometimes a lot more.  And how often I get exhausted in the middle of the day and fall asleep on the floor.

“Are you dreaming?”  I shudder and nod.

“Regular dreams or PTSD nightmares?”   I burst into tears.  I don’t even know what regular dreams would be like.  Maybe some of my dreams are regular dreams–but they terrify me.

I dream that I’m in a shower stall like at a gym with a man who closely resembles Alexander Skarsgard.  He’s holding me and kissing my neck. I’m laughing and talking to our friend in the next stall.  I wake gasping, sit straight up and scan the room.  Nothing here.  I am shaking and I can’t breathe.  Why would I dream about letting a man that close to me?  It takes some time to soothe my fear and fall back asleep.

I dream that I’m sleeping on a floor in a shack.  The ceiling is low and I can hear other people similarly housed nearby.  I turn over; there’s someone sleeping next to me.  Long hair, familiar somehow, and I feel great apprehension.  My abuser turns to me; “It’s me.  I missed you!”  I scream, jump up and start running through crowds of people.  I can hear, shrilly behind me, “She doesn’t have anything to be afraid of.  I just want to talk to her.  That’s my wife.  She’s afraid of me because of something I can’t help.  She’s discriminating.”

And I scream back “I’m afraid because that person is abusive and has hurt me.  Please help me!”

I wake up in a cold sweat, struggling to free myself from my blankets.

I dream that as I breastfeed an adolescent orphan, she grows breasts.  She also has male genitalia.  I am told she’ll die if I don’t rip them off, so I magically perform gender confirmation surgery with my bare hands.  She calls me “mother”.

I wake crying.  I’m disturbed because it was strange and graphic–and also because I gave the child in my dream the name I wanted to give my own daughter–the daughter I’m not so sure I’ll get to have.  My head pounds as I weep for my stolen chance at motherhood and the shitstorm in my brain.

I dream that my abuser is on the ground.  I am beating the living shit out of him, throwing punches fast and hard at his face, screaming at the top of my lungs how he’s a sick, stupid piece of shit.  A vicious, manipulative liar.  I scream about broken wedding vows and infidelity, stolen money.  PTSD.  I hurl every profanity I can conceive, and every punch lands devastatingly.  Then I look down and see my childhood dog, battered and forlorn.  I scream and apologize, over and over, horrified.  I wake up crying, whimpering the name of my dead cat.  I’m so upset I can’t go back to sleep at all, instead I get up and go to the kitchen in the middle of the night to sit on the floor and sob.

I dream that I’m in a vast expanse of cold water surrounded by hundreds of small drowning children, holding one tiny flotation device.  I wake up sobbing.  Every time I recount the dream I tear up and feel ill.

What would a regular dream be?  I don’t know, I know about my dreams–and they are terrible.

3 thoughts on “PTSD Nightmares

  1. Thank you for this. I’ve gotten a couple of “helpful” suggestions about not giving him so much continued power, and while I appreciate that as exactly what I’d like to do–that’s not how my nervous system presently functions. It’s SO FRUSTRATING.

  2. Yep. Advice is always meant well, but it can sometimes be more frustrating. For sleep, I find that yoga nidra helps. As for not giving my abuser so much power over my mind and thoughts and feelings and whatever else… eh… some days are better than others. I find that doing things that make ME feel empowered, like a challenging yoga class or workout, or even just standing up for what I want to do or where I want to eat dinner, helps a little. Sending love 💜

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