As a Kid, I don’t really remember having nightmares. Maybe occasionally thinking about things that scared me, but while dreaming, not really. There’s always the monsters under the bed that can keep us lying there, wide-eyed in high alert mode. We all have moments lying awake trying to calm minds though. That’s just the brain being a little too active, not really nightmares though. Right?
Well, if I have nightmares now, I think it’s my brain being just a little too active, except while I’m asleep….and then carrying that over into being awake. So, before anyone gets upset telling me that what I’m describing are not technically nightmares…fine. But, it’s dreams that I have that make me wake up and not be exactly too excited that I had them. So, close enough for me. While I’m here though, I have to assume that most adults out there aren’t having ‘spooky’ or ‘horrific’ dreams, unless it’s the direct result of some sort of real life trauma. I would posit that what I’m going to describe as my nightmares, or bad dreams, are the hyper-realistic dreams that many people probably have and result in similar feelings.
These “nightmares” I have aren’t necessarily scary things. Every once in a while, I might have a dream where I’m getting chased by some sort of lunatic that is trying to kill me. And I’m not sure what this says about me, but I’m usually not too concerned in those dreams. I have had many dreams where I get stabbed, or shot, or bitten, or whatever. Those usually aren’t too bad. I don’t even wake up from them or actually die in them. I get shot, my body hurts (a lot), and I say something along the lines of “this is inconvenient and annoying.” Then, when I do wake up from those, if I remember them, I chuckle to myself and try and remember what I had for dinner the night before. Usually though, to get back on track with the beginning of this paragraph, my brain is just coming to terms with whatever real-life issues happen to be bugging me at the moment.
The kicker with these dreams is that they are pretty much the opposite of nightmares, in the base sense of the word. They’re pleasant, idealized concepts of some real-life-ish scenario. Forget whether they are necessarily likely to happen in real-life for now. I don’t really ever feel bad during the dreams. Usually, I feel about as good if not better than I do in my normal, puttering-around waking hours. Since my brain is controlling them, they tend to go exactly the way I want…until some more realistic part of my brain chimes in.
Take this example from a dream I had probably a couple months ago. I won’t give the context because it doesn’t really matter, but just take this little piece of a conversation.
I was sitting talking to this other person and having a nice conversation. You know, the kind with eye contact and laughing and nice back-and-forth turns to speak and to listen. Anyway, I think my brain started to wake up a little, but I wasn’t out of the dream yet. Maybe it was light coming through my window or a sound in real-life, but something switched in the dream. Remember the “realistic part” of my brain I just talked about. This is it. After this nice conversation that seemed to happen like a perfectly scripted movie with no effort, this happened
You don’t mean it, do you?
Of course I do.
No. I mean, you can’t mean it. Not you. Because you’re
not really you. You’re not you. This is just a dream.
(how meta of my brain)
[Other person fades without a response and I snap awake]
When I say snapped awake, I don’t mean in a overly-physical manner. Only once can I recall doing the cliche, sit up in bed yelling thing. And that was because I was angry in the dream and probably yelling at someone. (see below) No, as Marshall Mathers would say, this is a snap back to reality waking up. One where your eyes open, but that is literally it. Your whole body is pretty much paralyzed except for your eyelids. It almost takes a good minute for your brain to realize what’s going on. Where am I? What time is it? What day is it? Who am I? Oh, yeah, none of that was real.
The issue with these kind of dreams is that they turn into nightmares at the very last possible second. Right as your waking up and realize it’s not real. They retroactively work as nightmares in the way that as soon as I wake up, they force upon me the realization of what actually is and how it is so much different than the ideal that my brain has made. This, admittedly, can be a dangerous thing as it creates this almost resentment of one’s real life and current situation. Not how I would advise going through life, if the choice is yours. That can lead down a bunch of not-so-good paths pretty quick. But, once again, the subconscious brain is a hard things to tame. It would kinda defeat itself if it could be tamed.
So are these nightmares, or just good dreams followed with real-life getting in the way? I don’t know. If I’ve learned anything from The Matrix, the dream-world isn’t always best because it just provides a blissful ignorance. If I‘ve learned two things, it’s don’t nuke the Earth trying to destroy the machines. I can tell you that the dreams where I wake up relieved it was just a dream would be the ones where, as I said, get angry and lose my temper, or have just bad things happen (issues with friends, death, teeth falling out, car issues) But, those crappy feelings all fade super quick after waking up. It the idealized dreams that force my brain to think and over-think about things through the day. Not sure which is worse (I do, though). Sometimes, I just have dreams where I’m on a spaceship with Harry Potter and the Cheshire Cat trying to stop Star Wars (not actual wars. Like, we’re trying to stop any of the movies after the original trilogy from being made).
So, dreams and nightmares. Funny things.
Uhhh….no good concluding paragraph on this one. Let me figure out a song (or two) to link for this one. Ok, bye.
“I Need Some Sleep” -Eels
“Bad Dreams” – Joywave