Trigger warning: all the triggers
On a whim, and fueled by too much coffee and the sort of stressed boredom that comes along with Festivus in Alabama, I purchased Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-Body Experience by Robert Bruce and Brian Mercer. I confess that part of my interest was generated by Brian Mercer’s hilarious author photo (sort of a cross between an elementary school yearbook picture and a realtor’s calendar headshot) and Robert Bruce’s self-aggrandizing author description and introduction. Increasingly, I read books because I’m interested in their authors, not their subjects, and these two looked fascinating. I also tend to like “training programs” for new skills, neatly divided into calendars and weekly tasks. This one also has, of all things, a CD-ROM (which contains something called the “BrainWave Generator”), which I’m really pumped about.
Anyway, of course, first thing, I’m supposed to be keeping a daily dream diary. You’d think after almost two decades I’d stop being like, UGH WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT ME TO DO THAT SRSLY FUCK and just get on with it, but I . . . just can’t do it. I’ve tried for years, I always manage a couple of entries that make no sense later (usually in the form of horribly violent sketches or strings of seemingly unrelated single words). Dreams and sleep are a problem for me, as I imagine they are for the mentally and emotionally special everywhere (“emotionally special” just sounds nicer than the terms that doctors and counselors have thrown at me in the past).
First of all, I don’t sleep easy. I don’t nestle into soft sheets and warm blankets and gently drift into a land where anything is possible. I do a bunch of drugs, maybe run until I’m exhausted, and then curl into a fetal position like a rat burrowing into a nest of trash, lulled by the sounds of the same audio book (Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage, disc one), which I use to drown out my brain. I wake up with the blankets hanging off the bed, drool crusting on my face, and my arms tight and spasming from clutching a stuffed animal to my chest like a frantic kid with some seriously special needs. It comes in cycles and is pretty closely tied to how stressful my life happened to be that day. It’s a problem–I know. And I’ve already had All The Treatment, thanks.
So my dream life is fucked up. First of all, I’m usually too drug-addled to either have or remember anything. Second of all, when I have dreams, they’re usually FUCKING HORRIFYING. I have to wonder how many of these dream-diary keepers are trauma survivors, PTSD sufferers, or just, uh, emotionally special, because I’d bet not many of them. If you’re biggest sleep worry is just remembering or interpreting your dreams, then I envy you.
My dream diary usually looks like this: BLOOD RIPPING SCISSORS NECK KITCHEN FLOOR RAPE BLEEDING FLASHING LIGHTS BLOOD FUCKING NURSES HATRED PARAMEDICS HATRED BLOOD KILL EVERYTHING HAMMER BLOOD SCREAMING AM I SCREAMING OUT LOUD SCREAMING
It’s fucking terrible. It’s not all the time, but it’s enough that I don’t always look forward to sleep. And I don’t put much stock in dream interpretation, like, ever. It’s gotten better over the years, and I’m not sharing any of this because I feel sorry or because I need to be held and comforted (gross), only to make a point. Or think out loud. In writing.
Keeping a dream diary isn’t something that you necessarily just do. Like la la la. I don’t want to write about some of these things, or recall them better. And I certainly don’t need to spend any time wondering “what they mean,” because it’s pretty fucking obvious. I’m just trying to decide whether something like astral projection (if that’s even a thing) or lucid dreaming might be helpful or harmful. I mean, I journal a shit-ton about everything else, and some of that stuff’s just as horrible. It usually helps. Maybe this would help, too, if I kept at it for longer than the usual week or two. Or maybe I’m the last person who needs to have any control in their dreams.
Maybe I’ll just photocopy the author pictures from Mastering Astral Projection and make myself some sort of comforting charm that involves hanging them above my rat’s nest of a bed. Maybe if I just laughed a little more.