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[personal profile] violetcheetah
You probably don't want to read these dreams; they involve nuclear holocaust, and living but rotting bodies (chiefly mine), and non-functional bathrooms. I post them in part because these are themes that come up in my dreams with an exhausting regularity, and in part because it was somewhat unique to have three archetypal-for-me dreams in the course of two nights. If you have been curious in the past about what I meant when I referred to "armageddon dreams" or "bathroom dreams," this post will give you examples. If you are also curious about the kinds of dreams that I gather are common among trauma survivors, then read on.

The dream I woke up from with my alarm on Thursday morning, parts of it are many things at once. What I was seeing was an abdomen, on a living person, both my abdomen and someone else's; there was a square something under the skin, under an inch of the fat, three inches square, to the left side. It was something toxic that would kill the person — the patient, because we were in a hospital, or something medical but not sterile, like a war-time triage place, there were doctors and nurses — it was toxic to the person, and at the same time but in a different, a different reality, it was a bomb that could hurt others, too. In a different reality, it was shrapnel from a bomb that had been embedded and was causing an infection, or was coated with a toxin. It had to be removed. I was the person who would have to cut into the person and remove it; in one world I was cutting into myself, in another world at the same time, I was cutting into another person; in other worlds I think I was just being cut by someone else, and maybe in other worlds, just watching it all. In all worlds, I watched the same image, the cut along one side of the square, jagged because the tools were old and rusted (the rust came up later); after that cut, a hand slid in, to try to remove the metal, but it had been there so long it was embedded, stuck to the tissue, so, it made sense at the time that they wouldn't cut further, but instead grabbed the edge of the cut firmly and slowly pulled back so that the skin on the two sides at right angles to the cut ripped away, like ripping the sides of a cardboard box. The metal underneath was now exposed, rusted and yellow-brown and pitted, and the tissue around it was stained with the rust, brown, and was at the same time not just rust, but also rot. The hand gripped one edge of the metal and pulled up like it had with the edge of the cut, to pry the metal off the tissue it was adhered to. My hand, someone else's hand, my abdomen, someone else's, all at once. I knew at some point it was bad that there was no blood because it meant all the tissue was dead. They/I would have to remove everything that was dead, all the brown, the rust and the rot. There were pits in the tissue like the pits in the rusted metal. The hand came back, or another hand came back, or it was both at once, with the rusted scalpel again because it was the best we had, and instead of cutting out bad tissue, scraped at it with the blade, and sometimes with fingernails. When my alarm went off the first time, the person was still scraping, trying to get down to undiseased tissue. I wasn't sure, the doctor wasn't sure, how deep the fat and, and whatever tissue that wasn't organs, wasn't intestines and stomach, how deep that went, and thus how much space there was before it became hopeless, how much of a literal cushion the fat was. Would we reach clean tissue before that, or did the rot reach the intestines and were they pitted with rot and leaking into the abdominal cavity and it was hopeless. The alarm went off, I hit snooze and crawled under the covers, and as I not-quite-dozed, my mind continued to see that last image and action, the brown hole, the scraping. I was now partly awake enough to be aware of the awfulness of the dream, which while I was dreaming it was all far removed and emotionless and numb, but even half-awake and aware of the horror, I wanted desperately to know the ending, if the person, both me and my patient and also both at once, was going to live or was going to die horribly and it had been useless to even try. But now that I was awake, I couldn't propel the dream past that last image.


In the dream earlier that night — Wednesday night — the dream that woke me at about dawn, it started with me, probably middle-school or high-school age, with a man in his 50s or so, someone who felt like bits of all the father-figure men I "attached" to during those years. (To understand fully what I mean, you have to have some understanding of "Attachment Disorder" as a psychological condition.) He wanted me to do something illegal, like break into a house or vandalize it. He wanted me to do it because if he did, he'd be arrested, but I was young enough even if they caught me, the punishment would be mild. I was crying, but the reasons for crying seemed to change from second to second; I didn't want to do something bad, I didn't want him to -ask- me because it was a betrayal on his part to ask, I didn't want to do it because I was afraid of being caught, and it's harder to grab hold of the rest of the "why"s, but I think he was leaving, moving away, and no matter what I did I wouldn't see him again. Then things shifted in the way my dreams do, and we were parked in a driveway of an empty house, in order to walk to the house I was supposed to hurt, only now there was someone else who was going to actually damage it, and I was just waiting at the car with the man, to make a getaway, and I wished then that -I- was the one doing the damage because then he'd like me more, care about me more, we'd be connected, bonded, but now my place was taken by the person with more courage.

Then things shifted again, and the person who'd gone to break into the house was doing so to steal supplies, because we had to flee, we had to go quickly, and it was taking too long, townspeople were going to see us and attack us, but also something else, bigger, and something shifted again, not just in the dream but in the newly shifted dream, like my ears popping, and I knew a nuclear bomb had gone off. The man and I were safe behind the building we were hunkered behind. I could see the person we were waiting for now, he was running, full-out, he was young, six or eight years old, carrying something in a white cloth shopping bag, and then he was something like a bird, still a child but flying, fast, not toward us but just away from the coming blast, he was no longer connected to us, just a town child fleeing, and I expected to see a line in the air, like a line where the air was plasma, fire, like an expanding sphere moving out from the blast, I thought he was safe as long as that line didn't reach him, but then the flying boy without warning burst into flames, screamed for a moment, and then turned to ash that blew away. Then there were dozens of flying child-birds, igniting one by one or two or three at a time, screams and flurries of ash, and the man with me pulled my cheek against his chest and said, "Don't look," and I knew he meant that soon the blast would be close enough that we'd be blinded if our eyes were open — I read that in the real world in a book in high school — but I kept looking because I didn't want to live through what was coming, even if the man was with me, and I was steeling myself to step out from behind the building that was sheltering us from bursting into flames, so that I would only have to endure the one moment of agony and not have to go through the rest.


Friday morning, I woke up from a dream about bathrooms, and my mother. I was in a large house, a kind of place that college kids might rent and live two per bedroom with several bedrooms. I was visiting; the residents were male. I knew that there were four bathrooms, had a memory of a conversation with the residents about how strange it was to have a 4-bedroom house with 4 bathrooms. Everyone who lived there was downstairs watching TV, and I was going to join them, I think I'd been in the kitchen, but I realized I was leaking; in dream logic, what was leaking was both urine and menstrual blood, and possibly rot, putrescence. I went upstairs to find a bathroom, and things were confusing, like a toilet in a shower stall, or a seat with no bowl beneath it, which is common in my bathroom dreams, but in this dream I thought I had other options, other bathrooms, so I kept looking for a better one, hoping nothing would leak through my clothes. The next bathroom was clean, but I lifted the toilet lid, and there were three bottles, of shampoo or body wash or similar things, sitting in the water, and there were ice cubes in the water. My mother hadn't been in the dream before, but now she was, she was in the bedroom attached to that bathroom, and I went into the room and asked her, just, what she'd been thinking, and could she move the bottles. I didn't want to touch them, and I didn't want to tell her why I needed the toilet. She said the bottles were there because, whatever she had (something was wrong with her), maybe it was germs, so she was freezing the bottles before she used them. She wasn't naked when I was talking to her, but I had a visual memory of her having been naked in front of me, her whole pubic region red and blistered like it had been burned, most of the hair gone, small tufts left. I suspected that whatever was wrong with her was wrong with me. I needed to reason with her now; I wanted to tell her that freezing wouldn't do any good even if it -was- germs and even if the germs came from the bottles, but I knew there was no point in trying to explain. I just said something like, "You can't just guess at stuff and hope you can fix it; you need to see a doctor." She was angry at that, angry that I was making such a big deal of it, that I'd try to make her spend money on nothing. I realized that she didn't think it was serious, no more than a little poison ivy or something, but I knew it would kill her if it went long enough. But I realized there was no way to convince her. I felt defeated, not even angry. I closed the bathroom door and locked it, and she said through the door not to take the bottles out. She didn't say it, but I knew she wanted me to pee in the sink instead, she didn't know I was leaking. I think I did something like sitting on the floor, getting ready to inspect my own body, and realized I was sitting on a yellow bath mat, and that everything leaking out of me would show, and it was too late to keep her from knowing, and keep the residents from knowing, and the same feeling of defeat made me so tired I just wanted to sit without moving again.


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Violet Wilson

October 2016


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