Nightmares Now and Then

I’ve had some really weird and disturbing dreams the past week. The sort of dreams that don’t really relate to anything in my actual life but have lots of very stressful or strange things going on in them. In these dreams, nothing appears to relate to my actual life in any particular way. Nothing symbolic even seems to be obviously about my life. 

They might not be welcome, and the past few nights I’ve caught myself feeling a tinge or dread when going to bed because I don’t want to have more disturbing dreams. Still though, it makes me think back and be grateful that these nightmares are just that - nightmares and not real. It makes me think back to the year Drew died, and how many nights I had bad dreams about how he died. In the dreams, he was either angry with me and leaving me, or had found someone else and was leaving. Not a single time did one of these dreams show the true reason he was gone - that he had died suddenly in a helicopter crash. Helicopters were never in a single one of these dreams in fact. It seemed as though my mind was trying to make sense of what had happened to him in the trauma of it all. So it would create these false stories that he had left, or that he was far away and not coming back for one reason or another - none of them ever death. 

These dreams were torture. I remember waking up confused and in an agony. I remember waking up and having moments in that half-asleep state of wondering if the dream was true or if my real life was true. I remember wishing so hard that my true reality wasn’t actually real… and in that half asleep place, I never wanted to fully wake and know. I remember after those first moments, when the morning light became clear, and I was alone, and I knew that the worst nightmare of all was the one I was living. 

It has been seven years now, and I don’t have those dreams anymore. I occassionally have dreams of Drew still, maybe a few times a year. Slowly over the years, the dreams have transformed from not being able to find him, to finding him and actuallying being able to talk to him or leave him a message, to having visits with him that feel so real and so beautiful that they leave me filled with a beautiful warmth and joy when I wake up. 

These recent dreams are something very new. I rarely ever have had bad dreams that don’t seem to relate to my life. To have several in a row is even more rare for me. I don’t know what to really make of them, but I’m at least glad that they aren’t horrific dreams about my real life anymore. After years of living on as a widow… waking up this past week, the bad dream was left far behind me and waking up to my real life was no longer the nightmare I once feared to face. 

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  • Karen Lawrence
    commented 2019-08-30 08:49:19 -0700
    I too had dreams about my husband leaving me the first year after he died and they too had nothing to do with the way he died (cancer). I would wake up crying after dreams where he was leaving me for someone else. I agreed with you about the mind trying to process the trauma. It’s been 7 years years for me as well and I haven’t dreamed about him for a while- both a blessing and a curse I guess. Hoping your nightmares cease very soon. Restful sleep is hard enough for many widows to find.