I never cease to be amazed at how much good a little rest does to my body, mind, and spirit.
This week I was tired to my bones. Nightmares returned a few weeks ago, the worst nightmares I’ve had yet, filling me with fear and anxiety before my head even hit the pillow. Instead of waking up rested, I woke screaming and crying with Robbie shaking me telling me I’m safe, he’s here, the dreams aren’t real. The rapes, the torture, the beatings of my nightmares weren’t real.
I’ve learned that when nightmares return, it’s my body’s way of telling me, “OK, luv, it’s time to heal more. It’s time to go deeper.”
I dread it every time, but I’ve learned that the only way out is through, and on the other side is light.
In the past I’ve tried all sorts of things to make the nightmares stop. Nothing works. They stay until they’re ready to leave.
Instead I’ve learned to prepare myself to handle them better.
This time I’ve sat quietly with myself before bed and ask if there’s any unresolved issue that needs to be addressed, memories I’ve blocked out that need to be looked at, feelings I’ve been stuffing down that need to be aired and validated. There’s always something, sometimes big, sometimes small. And when I take the time to sit with that issue – no judgment, no shaming, no suppressing – just sitting and looking and being with that issue, the pressure is released, like letting air out of a too-full tire.
I don’t stay in that place long, just long enough for the pressure to ease, for the truth to be spoken, for my feelings and thoughts to be heard, seen, and validated.
Then I look at books of beautiful gardens or artwork or illustrations, things that calm and soothe, comfort and inspire, and remind me of the good things I treasure.
And before I go to sleep, I remind myself that no matter what I dream about, the truth is I am safe, I am loved, and light will come in the morning. The light will always, always return.
The nightmares left two nights ago, and this time their departure was amicable rather than abrupt. In a strange way it feels like we’re partners now, not enemies. They’re messengers and guides who help me face things I wouldn’t otherwise face. In their own way, albeit brutal, they help me heal and reveal my strength. With their darkness, they reveal the tremendous light in my life, and help me treasure the people and experiences that make my life so precious and rich.
This morning, as I wait for the sun to come up and listen to Bear pottering in the kitchen making cuppas, I feel thankful that this time the nightmares didn’t cripple me. They’re awful, yes, but they don’t last. They don’t stay forever. And in their wake they leave deeper healing, greater strength, and much more courage.