There was a period in my life years ago when I had nightmares. When I woke up—usually because of the bad dream—I was in a state of terror. That word, “terror,” is not an exaggeration. The word means “a state of intense or overwhelming fear.” I was often trembling, lathered in sweat, heart racing.
I can still remember a nightmare I had in Chicago over forty years ago, one of a steady series of bad dreams I had back then. I remember a cat being swung around by its tail and screaming, a pitched, deathly wail. Was I swinging it? That cat screaming! Even now, just thinking of it brings back the old fear.
An especially bad nightmare takes you over completely. It bypasses all your defenses. It takes up residence. It doesn’t go away when you wake up. It stays with you all day, clinging to your psyche like some slimy, malevolent creature.
You can’t believe it comes from you, this dream, it’s so ugly. But it has come from you. So those limbs being hacked off, that child drowning and begging to be saved, they come from you. You can’t turn to anyone else for its origin. It’s your creation. It’s you.
But what you? You don’t summon these images when you’re awake, do you? They only come when you sleep. That’s when the proper, correct, good you is off guard. That’s when another you wakes up. When the unrestrained you takes over the helm. The raw you, in all its monstrosity. The real you.
But no! It’s only a dream!
That’s what you tell yourself all day, as the images come and go, flashing before you, whenever they want. You’re unable to stop them.
What have I done, you ask, to create these terrible images in my mind?
That’s the question, isn’t it?
You describe this horror so vividly! There's a reason they call them "night terrors." You bring up a scary point---what IS it about me that creates these? I never thought of it that way before---yikes.
"It stays with you all day," sounds right. I just had that happen to me and it was very uncomfortable. Thank God for good dreams! Some of them come to me fairly regularly, flying dreams, floating dreams. So bIissful! Always a pleasure to read your posts and look at the interesting illustrations you pick.