Back in the day, when people asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was a psychologist, they invariably asked me to interpret their dreams. (When I tried to be more specific and tell them I was a music psychologist, they asked me about music therapy...for the record, also not my field of study.) I always thought this was a tad silly but lately I've sort of been wishing I had a psychoanalyst I could turn to to evaluate my dreams. For the last couple of weeks, I have not been sleeping well; gripped by intense dreams -- the kind that feel completely real and make you feel grateful to wake up. The kind that, though painfully vivid, evaporate within minutes of waking up and leave you with nothing to say other than, "I had a bad dream."
Last night, however, was different. I remember what I dreamed. Part of it was horrifying (Laurel was kidnapped and seriously injured), part of it was weird (I went to stay at a fictitious home on the campus of my undergraduate alma mater and found the place raging with vermin, including horned trash bags that were skittering across the floor on their own), and part of it scared the crap out of me (I answered the door at said home with my mother and we were attacked by masked assailants).
I woke up in a panic, relieved to see Jon sleeping peacefully next to me. However, I still got up to make sure Laurel was in her bed, and that her windows were locked. I squinted down the staircase to make sure the front door was double locked. I waited for my heart rate to come down.
I imagine all bad dreams are rooted in anxiety and the imagery itself is not necessarily related to whatever is going on (though maybe the moving trash bags reflect my disgust at recently finding ants in our kitchen). And though in general I live a very happy life, I've admittedly been a bit more raw around the edges the last few weeks. However, regardless of etiology, I need to find a way to smooth out whatever is going on in my brain while I'm sleeping. Because bad dreams = not so good sleeping.
Or at the very least, I want to go back to not remembering. Because envisioning Laurel in a state of vulnerability and pain was more than I could handle. I can't even bear to detail the specifics of what I envisioned because it would bring the images to life in this space.
And I hope that over time I can just forget.