I am a recurring nightmare kind of person. Always have been.
They come in waves, depending on what my stress du jour is, where I am in life. I remember my first recurring dream well:
I am running from someone, something, bad. I do not know what it is but I know that I can’t let it catch me. I run along the side of the house, bright in the midday sun, and my feet turn to lead, sticking into the tall summer grass as though it were quicksand. I open my mouth to scream, and nothing comes out. I stand there, perplexed at the idea that bad things were about to happen to me not in the chill damp dark of a New England basement, but out here, in the open, under a scorching, angry summer sun. This does not appeal to my childlike sense of justice. I turn to face my assailant. And then I wake.
I was five years old.
I’ve had variations of the chase dream come in and out of my life depending on what movies were in vogue. For a while, I was being chased by a Great White shark that could sprout legs and take off after me down the beach. OK, that one was kind of funny. The one that came later after a series of disturbing, threatening phone calls- the man playing hide and seek with me in my house, tossing out taunts as I looked at the empty butcher block on the kitchen counter, not so much.
The chase dreams are terrible, bubbling up motes of security concerns. Fortunately, they are rare in my world.
Even rarer are those “Oh, I seem to be naked here in the middle of the common area” dreams. I had those mostly in high school. They were appalling in their own terrible way, a comedy of errors, of trying to play off a silly oversight in the hopes no one would notice. The Empress Has No Clothes. I don’t know which was worse: those where people noticed, or those where they didn’t.
As I got older and my life coalesced into a form of my own making, my fears changed from the frightful stalking of threats I had no control over, to those failures entirely of my own making. In college, it was always the same: I arrive to class on a midterm day, realizing I had ditched class the entire time up to that point. It was usually a math test of some sort, differential equations or one of those where every day built upon the one before, so hopelessly lost it was pointless to even make the attempt. Doomed by my own ineptitude.
It’s funny how long those dreams have persisted, past school and into my early career, fears about my inadequacy at work transforming into an anxiety riddled physics test, waking with a sigh of relief yet wishing I had paid more attention in neurology.
I had a new one last night.
I was doing a cat spay, the easiest of the spays. Cats are small, their organs easy to identify. I have progressed way past my ginger early days and dive right into a cat spay, the kind of surgery you can do while carrying on a conversation about the weather and rocking out to Motley Crue, your muscle memory so refined that you no longer need to think about what you are doing, your fingers intuitively sensing the small currant that is an ovary and going from there.
But in this dream, I am all thumbs. The organs fight me, an ovary encased in fat, suture breaking off beneath my fingers. Frustrated, I bumble through as other people by my side breeze in and out, wondering what is taking me so long. I remove the uterus, then look down to realize in horror that I have sliced through the colon. The cat’s bladder, distended to gothic proportions, is in my way; I express it, and the contents squirt upwards and into the exposed abdomen. (Which, if you’ve ever expressed a cat bladder, doesn’t even make sense. But I guess that is why this is a dream.)
I stand there, looking at the mess before me, mentally calculating how long it will take me to fix the damage I’ve just wrought. And I’m beyond confused, because this isn’t me fumbling something I am still learning, this is me royally screwing up something I have done routinely hundreds of times, and I can’t figure out how I messed this up so badly.
I take a deep breath and tell the tech I am going to need a tub of saline, and a new pack of suture.
And then I wake up.
I’m not going to lie, I am definitely in the middle of some stress. Our house still hasn’t sold. I decided VERY last minute to pull my kids out of their previous school and put them into a new charter school. I am still, three and a half years into this experiment, struggling to define exactly what it is I do here on the website- “Pet blogger” is so easily dismissed, a sideshow diversion. It’s more than that, yet it’s not on its own a self sustaining career, either.
And my birthday is this weekend, something which has finally turned the corner from a joyous event to a dreaded reminder that my aging carcass is one step closer to the grave. Yesterday, a bagger at the grocery store made a comment about YOLO, and when I laughed, he looked startled that I knew what he was referring to. “Do you, like, have a kid who says that or something?” he asked suspiciously. If I had a cane, I would have smacked him with it.
So maybe my bungled dream-spay was the sulphurous eructation of my subconscious angrily demanding why, on the anniversary of yet another year gone by, I still don’t seem to have it all figured out. I don’t know. I’ve never been good at dream analysis.
Oh, to go back to those days when I was being chased around by a land shark in the dead of night. Life was so much simpler then.
Anyone else still have those annoying recurring dreams?
Deborah Mendez says
Um, thanks — just had to Google YOLO! Now I am feeling old. Happy Birthday!!
Dr. V says
Ha! And a happy YOLO to you.
Tabitha W says
I don’t quite understand what you are supposed to be figuring out. You have great kids, great pets, a life with allows you the ability to do the things you obviously love, and you have adventure. What is there to figure out exactly? Putting pressure on yourself is only going to do one thing… put pressure on yourself. The world around us does that enough, we shouldn’t do it to ourselves.
I think all too often we put so much pressure on ourselves to have a timeline, a plan, a direction and we need to figure out how to get there how to sprint to the finish line rather then just how to “be” (or as I say, “Be a TREE!”). If you can’t change it then don’t worry about it – because worrying wont do anything. And if you CAN change it, don’t worry about it, because you can change it.
Also, we love you. We read everyday. We smile or shake our heads or laugh with you every day. We feel your stress or sometimes you take away ours. You are not a pet blogger, you are a “life with animals” blogger. The only thing I wish you would do more of is give yourself a little credit once in a while for being so amazing.
I often dream I am falling, OR that I am slowly being submerged into water. When I have the water dream I am always laying on a beach and the waves are lapping at my head and I can’t get up. (I am horrified of fish in open water, yes you may laugh). But when I DO wake up from the dream, there is ALWAYS a cat grooming my hair line. They are the waves lol.
My other dream is that I get to visit with my OTRB rat, Mindy. The dream is good but waking up to her not being here is the worst part.
Dr. V says
Thank you for all of that. The cat grooming you- that was a great morning laugh. BTDT.
Michelle Cotton says
I still have nightmares about report card day. It’s been 20+ years since I was in school. I wake up in cold sweats from those dreams. Occassionally I have a dream where my teeth are falling out (I read somewhere that this means you are worried about money), but not so much anymore.
Don’t know which birthday is coming up for you, but my son just turned 13 yesterday. That was almost harder than my own personal birthday. I turn the big 40 in less than 6 months. Pretty sure I’m gonna bury my head in the sand and pretend not to exist. I don’t feel older than 26.
Dr. V says
Isn’t that weird how report card day dreams still have power, years and years and years later?
I have recurring dreams of people (usually family members I don’t get on with) separating me from my husband and cats and not letting me go home to them. then they tell me that they aren’t there anymore and I should just give up. I then wake up in a cold sweat and have to hug my husband and go hunt down and hug all my cats.
Dr. V says
Oh, the malicious family member dreams. Ick.
I don’t give any thought to my dreams. No point. I remember them every morning, because of a pill I take every day that gives me nightmares. The more of the pill I take the worse the nightmares are. Different dreams, same, doesn’t matter, it’s all just a waste of time to me. I don’t mean to sound like I am saying your dreams are a waste at all. I just think mine are, because once you start having them EVERY night and remembering them EVERY morning, they start to become worthless in the real world. Maybe you are stressed, but I am sure you can figure that out without thinking about your dreams. Besides, I am sure you know you are awesome and no one can have EVERYTHING figured out. That’s just life.
Dr. V says
You’re right- it’s all just life. Plus sharks.
ROFLMAO thanks for the laugh. You made my day 🙂
Sue W. says
Tabitha W. put it wonderfully. I can only repeat her words:
“I think all too often we put so much pressure on ourselves to have a timeline, a plan, a direction and we need to figure out how to get there how to sprint to the finish line rather then just how to “be” (or as I say, “Be a TREE!”). If you can’t change it then don’t worry about it – because worrying wont do anything. And if you CAN change it, don’t worry about it, because you can change it.Also, we love you. We read everyday. We smile or shake our heads or laugh with you every day. We feel your stress or sometimes you take away ours. You are not a pet blogger, you are a “life with animals” blogger. The only thing I wish you would do more of is give yourself a little credit once in a while for being so amazing.”
Reoccurring dream? I wish. I am 50 (think “life change”, “sleep disturbance” and “hot sweats”) and have MS. Dreaming means I made it to REM sleep. I should be so lucky. *Any* sleep is now a wonderful thing.
Dr. V says
See, now that gives me perspective. I’m sorry sleep is so elusive for you.
Mihaela (Dr. V) says
Dear Dr. V,
Yes, we all think you’re wonderful and amazing and we love you – but that doesn’t mean we know what you (should) feel. Obviously, something needs your attention and it is getting it by scaring you a bit in your dreams. So maybe, as a gift to yourself (Happy Birthday!) you can take a quiet moment to feel what you feel, observe the sensations in your body, and give compassionate attention to whatever it is that needs attention. Sometimes, all these feelings need is to be listened to 🙂
Wishing you a lovely weekend,
The other Dr. V
Dr. V says
Thanks. You’re right, it will all be good. 🙂
I am much happier when I don’t remember my dreams. I still dream about school and I have this recurring one about the restaurant I worked in during university. It’s been years since then but every now and then I still dream about being the only server on shift and the restaurant suddenly is packed with people, every table full and a line out the door. I wake up completely exhausted and stressed out.
I’m sorry you aren’t feeling so together these days. Just know you are not alone. I turned 30 this year and it’s been a difficult slog ever since. At 20 I thought I’d have everything figured out by now. Sadly, I STILL don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. 😛
Dr. V says
Isn’t it weird how you can immediately regress to the kid you were with those school age dreams?
Oh man, I hear you on the recurring dreams. I have two, one of which spawned my fictional heavy metal band name.
A recent was influenced by my grandfather dying in a hurricane the same time frame as the Walking Dead comic debuted. Our relationship had been strained plus my parents were fighting with the Red Cross and the Sheriff’s office to be allowed into the city to identify and claim his body before the looting continued on the destroyed house. ANYWAY, because of the circumstances, my grandfather became a zombie and would chase me through his destroyed house. I would get trapped and couldn’t get out.
The other was similar and based on a book I read as a teenager that had a part in it that we are in control of our dreams. You could tell yourself that you are in control therefore you can change the dream while you’re in it. I would tell myself that at night before I go to sleep. Well it never worked. Each time I did it I had the same chase nightmare. A chainsaw welding maniac chasing me through an old bourbon warehouse with body parts of my family members hanging down.
I understand you on the dreading the birthdays. They aren’t what they used to be. And I think we do put too much pressure on ourselves. With everything I went through five years ago, I’ve had to do a lot of re-arranging as you already know. And it’s tough because then you begin to question everything.
Dr. V says
Wow, yours are super scary. eeek
as they say “live is a journey, not a destination”. It seems you live your life to the full – jumping at opportunities to join in and make a difference to those less fortunate. Enjoy the journey and focus on your accomplishments, not on the ‘unfinished business’ still taunting you. It will get done eventually, stressing over it usually hinders us rather than helps.
Your blog is an ‘experiment’ enjoyed by many – funny, insightful, educational, honest. Please keep at it and know we’re all behind you to cheer you on.
Dr. V says
Thanks Leslie. I appreciate that. 🙂
Georgia Jewel says
What you’re doing every day on this blog is making people laugh, think and become better pet parents…just keep doing it. Not everything needs to have a defined goal or purpose. Sometimes funny pet pictures are good enough!
I’m also struggling with similar housing and parenting and aging issues, not fun. Please be kind to yourself and rub a puppy on your face!
Happy birthday, fellow Virgo (mine is today)! i have lots of recurring dreams, usually 3 basic types – underwater with fish, sharks, or other fun animals attacking me; school/work related ones where something is due like a paper (at work, we create lots of long reports, so it’s all the same!); and one where people are somehow chasing/attacking me and I can’t yell or move or do anything. Ugh. Dreams are the worst.
Sue Pellerin says
I haven’t had many lately but I just dropped my first child off at college this past day…..I was telling her about all the recurring nightmares I had when I was in college. I had the exact some one as you – getting to class, late, and finding out it was test time and I had no idea what the test could be on…. I would also dream about taking a nap, waking from that nap to realize that I was missing the midterm/final, after I had worked so hard on the class all semester.
Then when I used to drive Limo, I would take naps in the middle of the day because I would be up driving late into the evening. I would dream and then wake in a PANIC that I had slept through the pick up time and therefore missed the client all together.
I told my new college student NOT to have these dreams and all will work out. LOL
I have to admit I had a ‘naked’ dream recently – I was naked, in Hawaii, swimming and having a great time and I was VERY HAPPY being naked and didn’t care if anyone was bothered by it. (this was probably because I am very self conscience about my body and being 70 lbs overweight doesn’t help) So yeah, I was damn proud of this great bod I was flaunting in Hawaii! LOL
P.S. Good job pulling your kiddos and getting them into a charter school. I’ve been doing this for homeschooling and charter high schooling for years now and it’s paying off so well for the kids and their college futures! My 13 yr old is already planning on attending the college that is sister just entered two days ago! Yay! Keep up the good work!
Sue Pellerin says
P.S.P.S. When I lived in San Diego til the age of 12, I had those shark dreams too! I think there’s something in the water down there!