My husband Calvin doesn’t have nightmares—never had one. Lucky him. One day, I said, “Don’t you ever have a dream that goes bad? A nightmare that leaves you soaked in sweat and gasping for breath?” He said, “If they’re going bad, I fix them. I change the story.”
Via Google, I discovered this is called conscious dreaming and decided to try it. So, I made up endings for each type of nightmare I have. Here’s how it went:
Nightmare, type 1. Pursued by an evil creature on a horse through a dark wood.
My plan: I’d pull a shining sword from a scabbard, stab the evil creature through the heart, and lop off its head, à la Eowyn in Lord of the Rings.
My reality: Me to the evil creature, “You’ve made a mess of the woods—slime and monster droppings everywhere. Go away so I can clean up.” The evil creature slinks away, tail between its legs. And now, I feel bad for hurting the evil creature’s feelings.
2. Nightmare, type 2. Claustrophobic panic attack. I don’t have claustrophobia or panic attacks. Except in dreams.
Plan: I use superhuman strength—this is a dream after all—and burst whatever I’ve been shoved into.
Reality: (Discovering I’ve been shoved into a tight sack) “This is ridiculous. I am not claustrophobic and I don’t have panic attacks, so I’m going to wake up.” And I did.
3. Nightmare, type 3. Chased by a murderer and I can’t run away or scream.
Plan: The murderer attacks. I raise and fire my gun. Afterward, I blow smoke from the muzzle.
Reality: My feet are stuck, I unstick them. But I don’t run. *Facepalm* Instead, I scream and start laughing. Cowed by laughter, the murderer retreats into darkness. Then, I do the happy dance.
4. Nightmare, type 4. Rotten teeth nightmare. According to Google, this nightmare is an expression of anxiety I’m feeling about losing my identity.
Plan: Um, I think I have this nightmare because I hate paying big dentist bills. Maybe I can pretend the dentist works for free.
Reality: I see holes in the back of my teeth. This dream is dumb—no one can see the back of their molars. Besides, the dentist says my teeth are fine, if only I’d stop grinding them. I tell the nightmare to go away and never come back. It works. But I still wish the dentist was free.
Nightmare, type 5. A pain nightmare is when real pain breaks into your dreams—30% of people with chronic, acute pain have pain dreams. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is the gift that keeps on giving…
Plan: I’ll dream of a capsule containing a swirl of blue, red, and yellow mini-pills. A stained glass of pain relief. I’ll swallow the pill with a shot of bourbon. Presto. No more pain.
Reality: Yeah…I haven’t got this figured out yet. Maybe I can use that flaming sword leftover from the evil creature nightmare to kill the pain. One slicing strike. Pain dies…it dies a painful death. 😊 Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.