Subconscious Stress

I started working full-time again yesterday for the first time in a couple of years. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but really overall I wasn't feeling too bonkers over it.

Or was I?

The Friday-morning alarm was set for 6a.m., an hour earlier than our rising time for the past three or more years. Whenever this happens, I go through the inevitable multiple wake-ups through the night.

"Was that the alarm?"

"Did I miss it?"

Or the ever-popular wake with a startle reflex, "Whaaa???" "Rrrrgghhhhhmpppphhh" (That second one was Joe's response.)

I was kind of prepared for this. It always happens to me when I know I have to get up extra-early from something important. I have a hard time falling asleep the night prior, and then I anxiously reawaken multiple times hoping I haven't screwed up.

Yeah, I have issues.

But this time I had an added bonus -- multiple-and-various-nightmares-and-not-quite-nightmares-but-still-awfully-
disturbing-dreams. And, just because I know you all have been waiting with bated breath for an opportunity to psychoanalyze me a la Freud or Jung, here are the abstracts.

Emily Death by Truck -- So I'm in my house, and for some reason I have this sort of prescient vision. I am indoors, but can clear-as-a-bell "see" what's happening outside as well. I'm not looking through a window. Anyhoo, various neighborhood children are running amuck in the yard and front ditch, which is flowing nicely after a recent rain. Emily, for some reason, is playing in the ditch on the opposite side of the dirt road (which has in reality been paved since 1991, but was dirt the whole time I lived at home). In my dream-mind, I see her clearly. And I dream-mind holler at her to "Get out of the ditch! Get back in the yard!" She immediately begins to climb out of the ditch and starts up onto the road. When I dream-mind-see a beat-up pickup truck heading down the hill. It's veering around and is quite unsteady and heading for my kid. I dream-mind scream at her, "Get down! Emily, get back down! Duck!!!" And just as the truck careens right at her...

I wake up. Breathing heavily. Joe wakes up, too, and I insist he go check on Emily to make sure she's breathing. I'm too terrified to move. She's fine of course. I slip back to sleep eventually and wind up with ...

Marvel X-Men Wanna-Be -- I'm some sort of mutant in the Marvel X-Men universe. I'm at Professor Xavier's school and everything. But apparently my mutation isn't quite useful and powerful enough to qualify me for impending X-Men-dom. I no longer remember what that ability was, but it was something along the lines of being able to smell really well, like 100-times a bloodhound. Or maybe it was something having to do with really remembering song lyrics. In any case, I kept bugging the actual X-Men and professors with unlikely scenarios in which my "powers" would be useful, if not indispensable.

I think I just sort of woke up with a "Wha?" and tossed around a bit before winding up in the next dream.

Saved from Gunpoint by the UPS Man -- Joe and I are coming home* one day. No children. Not sure if they're away, or this is meant to be pre-kids. We pull into the driveway in front of the house and start to go up the porch steps. A van pulls in behind us kind of diagonally, more than blocking the driveway behind the car. Some cliche' A-team style hillybilly-type Redneck hoodlums get out of the van (I think there were four of them.), and wave guns at us. They gun-gesture us to separate. Now I'm up on the porch with a guy, there are a couple of guys on the ground. And another guy has Joe over to the side. They're preparing to do their worst to me, while Joe watches helplessly, when a UPS truck pulls in. The guns are stowed quickly with muttered orders not to give anything away. So, the UPS guy comes up to us, a bit suspicious, but it's clear he's not sure what to do. Nothing built-up to any seriously about-to-die moment, but I did wake up while everyone sort of nervously dithered about and the gun guys got clearly more freaked.

Almost done ... only a couple more. I promise these all occurred between four and six a.m. yesterday.

Rude Awakening -- I wake up in my dream to the smell of breakfast cooking and voices downstairs.** Joe wakes up beside me (again with him in my dream, when I swear he's never in my dreams unless one of us is out of town). We head downstairs in our pajamas (which are generally pajama bottoms and a T-shirt for me, fleece pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt for Joe). Joe sees his brother. "John!" he calls, thrilled. They pound-the-back-man-hug. Then I see Joe's mom and his Aunt Rona sitting and talking. (I think Aunt Rona has set foot in my house in the 14+ years I've had my own household exactly once. She's not the type of person I'd want seeing me (or my house) in early-morning disarray. And then I come down and see my mom and dad (who live 8+ hours away and wouldn't really just pop in), in the kitchen making breakfast. Joe is completely nonplussed and greets everyone. I stand on the steps more than kind of horrified.

The alarm goes off at this point, and I'm so exhausted and wrung out, I do something I never do. Hit the snooze button and collapse briefly back to sleep.

The Birds -- Hitchcock references aside, I don't really have a bird fear. I find giant flocks of anything wheeling around in the sky absolutely fascinating in a fluid dynamics sort of way. My drive to work regularly passes feeding flocks of snow geese numbering in the many thousands. Astonishing numbers of rather-large birds. They're gorgeous. Back to the dream ... Joe (again!) and I are driving in a pickup truck and I sort of dream-muse that I could be in the same truck that earlier there-but-for-the-grace-of-waking-with-a-start ran down my first-born. We're driving down a dirt/gravel road when we see a bunch of birds ahead. They're sitting on and around the road and flying about a bit, trying to settle or something. The birds are definitely agitated a bit and not just feeding peacefully. They're everywhere and Joe is swerving a bit trying to avoid them. A few hit the windshield or are run under the truck. It's pretty scary and icky. All we can see are feathers and beaks and they're everywhere. At first they're snow geese, but then I dream-remember that snow geese don't live in Northwestern Pennsylvania*** and they instantly become seagulls. Hundreds and hundreds of seagulls. And we can't see and we're swerving, and I know there's a hill coming up and we're picking up speed, and the truck catches briefly in the looser gravel at the side of the road, by the ditch. And at this point I just know we're in the truck that's about to hit Emily.

And, I wake up.

By this point, I just get up and get ready for work. I'm shaken, and both mentally and physically wiped out. It was a horrible night (morning).

Work went well, though. I was supposed to be given a tour of the new school and getting to know the lay of the land, and I wound up teaching two classes cold. And I did fine. And I'm really not scared. Or stressed out. Really.

And during the commute home I saw a wheeling pair of bald eagles. They do live around here, but it's still a rare and beautiful sight.


* If by "my house" you mean my parents' house. In my dreams, I rarely, if ever, dream about the here-and-now. Joe is VERY seldom in my dreams unless we're apart by miles and miles. I don't dream about this house I live in. When I have a dreamland-house, it's my parents' house, where I grew up. Fly that one up the flagpole and see what happens, wanna-be shrinks!

** My parents house is a ranch, so no "downstairs." But, this still wasn't my actual house. I don't know whose house I commandeered for this dream setting. I don't recognize it. But it had a wrought iron stair rail, so there you go.

***Which is where my parents live. So, I guess it really is the same truck as before. I dream run-over my own child. Freud would be giving me a whole chapter in Die Traumdeutung at this point.


Chris said...

Woah. I've always known you were mental... but... woah.

;) Get some rest... and watch some kind of move where pastel butterflies recover Princess Priceless' lost pony from a grumpy bunny.

susanchap21 said...

You must have been tired, your dreams wore me out and I was only reading about them. There is a good book about dreams and stress you might be interested in called Positive Energy by Judith Orloff MD. She also has a mini-lecture on the subject. Remembering and Interpreting Dreams on YouTube. Heres to hoping your dreams are more sedate. :)

Heidi said...

Thanks, Susan ... I'll look those up.

How'd you find me? :)