Bad Dreams

I woke up with a terrible dream just now. I was startled so suddenly from it that it forced me to take a sharp in take of breath, my eyes popped wide open and I could feel my heart beating in my chest and my body trembling. I couldn’t shake the horrible feeling. My neck is still burning hot from the adrenaline.

Kayla and I are driving in the car. Well, to be exact, I am driving and Kayla is in the passenger back seat in Paige’s car seat, which doesn’t really make sense because Paige’s car seat is usually behind the driver’s side and Kayla is obviously too big to be in a car seat, but she is in it nonetheless. I don’t remember what we are talking about but I turn left onto California Street. We’re in Kalispell, where I’m from. On the right side I see my mom’s house–the house of my teenage years. The light is on upstairs but I don’t stop. My mom isn’t talking to me right now or I’m not talking to her right now. She sent me a nasty text message about being jealous of the other grandmother over a Facebook post and why did she have to see that. I texted her back that if she wanted to talk about something to call me during the day (because I don’t talk to her at night when she’s drunk, not that I say that in the text message) and I would be more than willing to talk about anything but that she was not allowed to text me mean things… I deserve better than that. I know, I know, me telling my mom what she is or isn’t allowed to do. Typical of today’s youth only I’m not a youth anymore.


The text message thing really happened. This dream isn’t real but we’re still not talking to each other.

So I drive past the house because we’re angry I think. In my mind’s eye I can see my mom, sitting happily doing something on her own. Or she is slumped in her chair, hunkered down under a blanket in a daze of alcohol, too depressed to get up and go to bed. It doesn’t matter which, they both make me angry.

It’s dark outside and I’m having a hard time seeing. I turn left down a street named Swan. This isn’t real either but I am fully in the dream world now. Kayla is saying something to me in the back seat but it’s still buried under the fog of the dream and inaccessible to me.  The road is so dark and I can’t see. I try to concentrate on the road directly in front of me and it becomes a little clearer, sharpening into focus. I can see the pavement flying underneath me. I’m going too fast. In front of me is  a lake. It reminds me of Flathead Lake but it’s probably the Swan because that’s the road I’m on.

“Where are you going?” Kayla asks.

“I don’t know! I can’t see anything!” I snap at her. The car won’t slow down and I follow the road thinking it will lead me to safety. We go up and up on an incline. As I round the top of the hill I see the lake coming at us, it is suddenly taking up all my vision, it’s so close. There is fog all around and a distant island and I think that this must be my destination. Soon our car is falling, falling, falling. I have the sudden realization that the road has stopped and we are now plunging deep into 50 feet of water. I don’t know how but I know it is 50…dreams are funny that way.

There’s blue light under the water. It’s a dark, grey, foggy blue and I can see now. My sister is frantic, hyperventilating, panicking in the back seat. She’s screaming and pounding against her door, all reasonable thought flown out the window as if anything could fly out of this car with the crushing water surrounding us, trying to get in.

First I try to open my door, but no, that will let water in and we can’t breath. Then I have a vision of watching Kayla’s window crash in and us trying to scrape past the broken glass but being unable to escape. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Kayla!” I repeat this as if it will make the upcoming event less painful. She doesn’t say anything to me. Praying seems like the right thing to do but I can’t think of anything to say.

I crawl in to the back seat with her. “Calm down, calm! Listen!” I say. “Here’s what we’ll do. Just breath. We’ll both push open the door at the same time … it will be difficult with the water pushing against it! And then we’ll hold hands and we’ll swim up. You have to hold your breath! It’s going to be hard, our lungs will hurt. Ok Kayla, do you understand?”

She nods her understanding, eyes wide, terrified with fear. 

We brace ourselves, both of us working together. We push and push and the bitter cold water rushes in, the sharp sudden cold hitting my chest and forcing the air out of my lungs. I can’t breath, every time I open my mouth, precious air escapes. My chest feels tight and then I take one final gasp of air and wake up.

I can’t get this dream out of my head. The possibilities keep replaying in my mind about what I would do in that situation. I’m thankful my kids and niece weren’t in the dream. I start thinking about what that would be like and have to make myself stop. No, it was bad enough as it was with Kayla, I don’t need to make it worse. Finally I think that I’ve found the solution. Sometimes the feeling of a bad dream will go away if you can only think of a way to make it end well. We both push on the door to get out.  It’s so difficult to do this and Kayla manage’s to get out and swim to the surface. The door is too heavy for me to keep open and swim out myself, but I’m OK with that. Kayla got free. I fulfilled my duty to her.

I toss and turn in my now too-hot bed. I can’t get comfortable or keep my eyes shut because every time I do I see the dream again. I finally remember to pray. “Jesus, please take this evil thing from my mind.” It helps, but only a little.

I wish I knew how to interpret dreams. There are so many things going on. I’m angry at my mom. Angry for more things than I can even say here but I don’t want to be. She should be the one driving the car, but she’s off in her own little world. I can’t express how strongly I desire this isn’t how it is, but there are external forces at play. Drinking, selfishness, hurt, death, loss. I’m a firm believer that Time does not heal all wounds, it just dulls the pain a little.

Kayla is in the back seat for probably obvious reasons. I’ve always felt like I needed to take care of her. Had to actually, after my brother died, dad moved out and mom went crazy, not that I always blame her for losing it. But I can’t. I’ve never been able to take care of her, never been able to take care of her and take care of myself at the same time. It’s one or the other, but not both, and I know every time I think of Kayla struggling to take care of her daughter as a single-mom in Kalispell I feel guilt that I can’t be there and do more. But I’m taking care of myself right now, for my own two children. I can barely manage that right now.

I wish I had some eloquent way to wrap all this up but I don’t. Dreams are dreams and I know that this dream means more to me than anyone else reading this from an outsider’s perspective. But it left me feeling changed, bothered. I hope that by getting it all out I can expel it from my soul and it will leave me alone. I can’t live with guilt. I will probably call my mom and resolve this issue between us. I don’t want to be the mature person, but as always, I will be with her. With Kayla, there’s isn’t much more I can do but be there emotionally to support her when she needs or wants it. At some point we all have to be responsible for our own choices and I’ve chosen mine.

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