31 Dec

I have nightmares sometimes. And by “sometimes” I mean sometimes they really are true nightmares, the kind that leave you cold in your bed when you wake up, frozen with a sense of gruesome horror. Sometimes, though, I call my nightmares “stress dreams,” because they leave me not so much afraid as weary and worried and anxious.

No matter what, I wake up to wet clothes and a body dripping with sweat. It’s unpleasant.

And sometimes, I shake when I dream. I’ll awake to my boyfriend’s arms around me, his hands pressing my head to his cheek, his voice low and whispering my name, begging me to wake up, or stating – and it is an assertion, no such flimsy thing as a coo – that it’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right.

But sometimes, I’m awake before the shaking starts. I’ve left my dream and its festering or frittering behind, fully conscious if eyes closed there on the sodden mattress. And before I’ve time to take a first waking breath, my body convulses. I jolt from the center, hinging around my stomach as the contractions come. My body, railing not at a nightmare but at its existence, the tortured mess of nerves my mind has forced upon it, crying in the only way that muscles and tendons can, as they release the stress in heave after heave of screams that could not be made aloud, letting out the tension of a night spent tangled up in the dank sheets of my worried mind, paralyzed.

There is no fight or flight for the unconscious. You cannot run from dreams. And so my body racks and rages at the brain it cannot eject, trying to shake the bones within me awake, to move themselves and kick and fight and scream in claw marks down whatever has caused the adrenaline to course through my veins while my consciousness flails under the dredges of a restless sleep to put the world back together once more.

But instead they only curl my legs closer and wrap my arms together so that at least while my body still lies there, subsiding into twitches, the waking mind, just as much a victim, won’t feel so alone, hiding its face and rasping softly – please, forgive me my sense of horror.


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