A week ago in the hollow hours before dawn I had a nightmare that I’ve now come to terms with. It was a dreadful nightmare of the sort I had not had in a long while. The night it occurred I could not imagine what brought it on. I was dreaming pleasantly, can’t remember what now, only that it was peaceful. Then the nice dream turned in the way of dreams, flipping me into the icy grip of the restless tide of ocean waves watching a clipper ship sink.
The ceaseless waves were loud, the sea itself roared all around me and I was alone in dark and terrible water, rolling lap upon lap in relentless rhythm. Off to the left something bright red and tentacled hung on the surface, most of it submerged. I was afraid the waves would sweep me toward it and I despaired. When the ship was going down, I’d glimpsed a rim of land some distance away I thought I could possibly swim to, but when I struggled close, the land became no more than a rock, already sinking beneath the wash of waves, disappearing, leaving me with absolutely no hope.
There was nothing but inky ocean and dark sky and me with no hope of rescue. Despair overwhelmed me. I woke up, thank goodness.
I’ve read that the subconscious mind will break you out of nightmare when the terror becomes too great for the mind to bear. That might be true or it might not, but nightmares can be far more vivid than simple dreams and more real. They are the virtual reality of the subconscious.
It was such a strong nightmare I spent the following days obsessing about it, unable to not think about it. I finally recognized it as a reflection of the deep feeling of isolation I’ve had since moving from southern California to rural Alabama. Now that I know what it meant, I can deal with it.