Sunday, April 7, 2013

Nightmares Welcomed, Sleep Included

Just about half the people I know, including the folks posting on Twitter, have said they aren't sleeping very well.  I'm not sure if that's from anxiety, the weather, or just plain too much caffeine.  Either way, it seems like none of us are able to crash when we need it. 

Recently I had to declare war on my insomnia.  I resorted to chemical weapons. 

I love chemical weapons.  I wage chemical warfare on head and chest colds all the time.  My favorite weapon is a spicy soup with several kinds of peppers.  Habanero, jalapeno, thai red peppers, and sometimes serrano peppers.  This concoction goes on a Sherman's March through my system and kills every fucking cootie it comes in contact with.  Sometimes I can hear them scream as they run for their lives before the tsunami of hot acid smothers them to their deaths. 

So insomnia is no different.  I have waged chemical war on this affliction.  Sometimes a little herbal remedy helps.  I tend to avoid that because I hate smoking and I don't like the lag it creates over a period of time.  Nothing really gets accomplished. 

And I have to be careful about mixing because I like having my heart beating.  Yes, I do have a heart.  And while I love tell folks it is of a child and I keep it in a jar under my bed, the truth is my physical motion-lotion pumper needs to keep working.  How else would it keep the bacon flowing? 

One night, after a series of very bad attempts at sleep over several days, I resorted to a cocktail of various pills and hard alcohol.  I slept extremely deep and when I woke up there was a dart in my ass, a tracking collar around my neck, a bright orange tag in my ear and numbers spray-painted on my side.  The only thing I remember was running through a field and some big object in the sky chasing me. 

But I need my sleep.  I need the nightmares.  Nightmares are like seeds for stories and full of great images. 

I used to have terrible nightmares.  The earliest re-occurring nightmare I can remember was of being tied up with rope and under a wooden-hulled ship in the water.  I dreamed of this a lot as a child.  I was about four years old. 

I didn't know what keel-hauling was at the time.  I chalk it up to my past life and how I died.  I won't go into that here, but there is a reason why I'm terrified of the hulls of boats.  I refuse to be in the water with one, I refuse to be next to one on land or on a dock, and I don't want to be on a big ship in case I end up in the water next to one.  Nope. 

The next re-occurring nightmare I had was about my dad.  He would crawl on his hands and knees towards me, but his body would be elongated and serpentine.  He would chase me through the house.   

When I was in high school and college, I had a re-occurring nightmare that always messed me up and caused a lot of trouble for me over the days following.  It was a stupid dream.  In this dream I would meet a woman, we would fall in love, have a great life together and be totally happy.  And then she would die.  Sometimes I watched her die, sometimes I would be told by somebody.  Every single time. 

I hated those dreams.  It was all so real and amazing.  I would be happy and then everything would be taken away. 

The next series of nightmares happened when I began to sense the nightmare coming on so I would wake up.  If I wasn't in the mood for a nightmare then I simply wouldn't have it.  So my brain, being out to kill me, came up with a great idea--the Surprise Nightmare. 

The Surprise Nightmare is just as it sounds.  Everything would begin with a nice, simple scene--just like a Stephen King novel.  Pastoral, tranquil, serene.  And then suddenly all hell would break loose and something horrific would happen.  It would come on too fast for me to wake up so I had to deal with it. 

And to prove a point, my head made these dreams the worst it could concoct.  Dead babies, people close to me dying, monsters from nothing.  Imagine having just a few seconds to terrify somebody--how would you do it?  My brain is good at this game. 

The very worst re-occurring nightmare was of my family.  I was separated from my wife and daughter because of economic and various other problems.  We wanted to be together, we couldn't.  And I was taking this failure badly.  So, every year around my daughter's birthday, Christmas and my anniversary, my brain decided to twist the knife.  I would dream of my daughter and how my failures were the reason she was upset and crying, exposed to all the dangerous crap in this world a father is supposed to protect his daughter from. 

One night I woke up and felt so broken I wanted to eat my pistol.  I was tormented by these nightmares.  It was so bad I was afraid to go to sleep because I knew something was lurking for me in dreamland and it didn't like me at all. 

I have often said my head would kill me if it didn't need me for transportation.  But since it does need me around, tormenting me will have to do. 

Not all of my dreams are bad.  Like most folks, I have re-occurring dreams that are wonderful and full of amazing visions.  My favorites are the ones about lights in the sky, clear nights and UFOs visiting Earth en mass. 

But none of this can happen without sleep.  So, I take various helpers.  Melatonin and half a pharmacy when I can get my hands on it.  One time I took a handful of Ambien, with some muscle relaxers and vodka.  I went down hard but I woke up having to pee really bad.  I was so dizzy and messed up I couldn't walk and damn near fell down on my way to the bathroom. 

I think writers tend to have a love/hate relationship with sleep and their own dreams.  We love them and use them, but they are like having badgers as pets--they bite hard and don't let go.  Even on the best days they're not our friends but on those days they tolerate us, it's a wonderful feeling. 

I have some goodies recently given to me by a friend.  This giant chemical war I have going on inside of my body is going to see a new weapon tonight.  I hope the dreams are good.  I could use some entertainment. 

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