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Waking Nightmares

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
This thread is inspired from these prompts in our Collaborative Writing Prompts thread:
What scares you
Your shadows
What would it be like if you took that step, it came true, etc, etc.


After I had my second child, I experienced what I now know to be a form of post-partum anxiety depression. I envisioned the most terrible natural disasters happening, or a horribly violent event. I had these visions over and over, I couldn't stop them.

One thing that helped was when I was entrenched in the visions (I also called them "waking nightmares"), to fully carry them out but I would act as the hero and save the day. Instead of feeling shame or embarresment over the anxiety, I would become the hero. Once I took this little bit of power back, I began having them less and less.

I know I'm not alone in this. I've talked to others who began having these waking nightmares after having a child, and I've since learned this is actually a catagory of post-partum depression.

Maybe writing about them would help dispell their power.

A warning to others: this thread may become graphic in nature or serve as a trigger to those with anxiety or other issues.

Take care, mamas. Talk about this stuff to your supports IRL if you feel as if it is unduly effecting you.

~Jesse
post #2 of 23
Waking Nightmare

When you were little
(small enough to fit in the hollow of my arm)
I would dream the most terrible dreams-

I would dream of losing
you; dream of you falling
out of my arms,
over the side of a balcony and plunging
down to the concrete.

I could not abide this dream:
so I dreamed that I stopped time.

I fling myself off
the ledge
and in the frozen moment of my will
I catch you;

then turned us around
so that is my body first
that hits the ground.
post #3 of 23

Thank you Mothers

Thank you Mothers for putting a name on, and sense of community into these visions that I have been having occasionally since the birth of my second child. I have so much anxiety surrounding the safety of my children, that I have begun having thoughts of them involved in accidents, and I am unable to help them. These thoughts leave me feeling sick and until now I have only shoved them to the back of my head, and clung to my precious little ones even harder. I never thought to develop them one step furthur and play out the vision to arrive at a happy ending, and reclaim my power. Thank you for this advice and peace of mind.
post #4 of 23
Welcome Green Goddess , I often have these 'daymares' . I guess tommorow while the DD&DS are at school, i will develop some of these ideas on paper so i can post here...think, think, think...as Winnie the Pooh says.
Unfortunately i don't have to think for very long bc almost every day something horrible comes up. Well, not every day...i don't want to sound crazy.
I have a 'special needs' son and much of my more painful work has come from my worries and experiences with him. I guess i'll wait to post more musings until i have something more concrete worked up. :
post #5 of 23

Mirror Broken on the Floor

The nightmares feel real,
they come in the form of threats.
Imagined blood oozing from the knife,
embedded in my chest.

The nightmares feel real,
they come in the form of abuse.
Five years old, hiding in the corner,
as he shouts her into submission.

The nightmares feel real,
rolling in the form of waves.
Ten years old, dreaming his death,
hating the body he came with.

The nightmares feel real,
fading in the soft shape of whispers.
Gently calming, talking him down,
the mirror broken on the floor.



Pretty grim huh? I should explain that i have a 10yo son who we think is bipolar. This kind of stuff happens in our lives at times...other times he is just normal. Lately there have been more 'storms' than not, therefore i wrote this poem. Wish us luck.
I have other 'daymares' about things like dropping dd or ds from a high bridge and jumping in after them, or running to the shore calling for help, or dd falling out of a moving car in her carseat : I've tried writing about them and this other subject keeps coming up.
post #6 of 23

Waking Nightmare

It is a perfect sunny spring afternoon, the first warm day of the year, and I am driving the boys over to the west side, driving along and listening to music, and then something is not right. I find I have let loose on the connections between my eyes, my mind, my body, my hands, the steering wheel and suddenly we are out of control and I see the windshield as a frame full of bridge railing.

We are racing toward the edge of the Hawthorne Bridge, screaming over the wide sidewalk, and then there is the railing creaking and breaking as the car struggles against the metal. I grip the steering wheel and press my foot harder on the brake, but there is nothing I can do to stop it. The balance has shifted and it is too late. I have already lost control and we have been set upon our course as if on tracks leading over the side.

We tip and go over the edge, the nose of the car reaching for the shining sparkling water and we are slumped forward in our seats in a free fall that stretches out to feel like an hour as I wait for the impact of car upon water.

I struggle to sit upright so I can roll up the windows. Once we hit the power will be shorted out and the windows won't work. I push the wrong button and the doors lock. I quickly unlock them again, then in a surreal leap of logic I reason that they should be locked because I don't want the water coming in so I lock them once more and begin rolling up all the windows at once. They rise so slowly and--what I was thinking? --I stop fussing with the windows and once again unlock the doors because we will need to open the doors to escape.

Won't we?

Just what am I planning on doing, anyway?

Again I return to the windows and as I work the buttons I look out and the water is right there, filling my vision.

We land...softly...in slow motion. Why? Perhaps because getting knocked out would make it all end quickly, we could die without suffering, or have the possibility of being rescued without having struggled. Too simple, too easy. The nose of the car dips down before the car begins floating on the water, slowly rotating and starting to move a little with the current.

We are going to go under.

The windows are now up, and I try to gather myself together.

The boys are playing in the back, safely in their car seats and uninjured in the fall. They are sharing their toys and I am relieved they aren't panicked but just how in the world am I going to be able to swim with the two of them? My mind races to find the solution and I tell myself I am just going to have to do it, to get them out and swim and if I do it, it might just work because it has to.

I can hear the sound of water dripping in from somewhere and the car is going under. Outside of the car, the water is coming up the windows. We will be swallowed up by the Willamette. But I know what to do; I saw it once on Oprah. I look for a pen. I try the ashtray, the glove box, under the seat. There is a pen in my purse, I finally remember, and I search through receipts and chocolate bits and pull out my black ballpoint.

The water is halfway up the window now and I can see green cloudy rays of sunshine slanting under the water and birds and boats and the grassy slope on the bank of the river above the water. We are now more under than over and I fight the panic that is making my legs shake and I try to slow my breathing.

The boys are beginning to notice something isn't quite right.

Is there anything in the car that can be used as a flotation device? A water bottle. Two water bottles. If I tied two water bottles together, would they hold up a small five-year-old? I look for something to use to tie them together and at the same time I see water covering the floor of the car.

I feel it penetrating my shoes.

Breathe, breathe.

I tie the water bottles with the handles of a canvas bag. Somehow it works. Okay. I must unbuckle the car seats. I climb to the back and get to work on the latches. John is free. I tell him to sit up front and he does. Jeremy is free. I send him up front.

The water is up to the seats and we can no longer see outside. It is dark. We are in a submersible, falling into an abyss. I fear we will never be seen again. No one has noticed, no one will ever notice. We'll lie here at the bottom of the river for thousand years.

I clutch the pen and try to teach the boys how to hold their breath. Jeremy understands but can he do it? John doesn't understand at all and I hope he will hold it instinctively. I look at the point of the pen. Do I wait or do it now? Do I do it?

Do I have to do it already?

I'd better not wait till we are any deeper.

With the force and determination only a mother could summon, I jam the pen into the center of the driver's side window, and water doesn't just pour in, it doesn't flow in, it is a sensation more like...slamming me in the face, sending pieces of broken glass onto my face and arms. I am coughing and gasping and getting only water, which has been forced up my nose as if sprayed and then I have my face at the top of the car searching for air, any air, and I get some, enough just to fill my lungs, and I grab the kids' arms. The water won't let me out. They are in the water now and I can't get out. I can't get out. They are under water and I can't get up through the window, the water won't let us out where I need to go, they aren't breathing I need to get OUT. The water has filled the car and the boys are not breathing.

I grab them and pull us through the broken window working with my legs as I hold them under my arms and I push off for the surface. I can see the patches of blue shimmer at the top of the dark green and I kick for it, I kick and my legs feel so useless and weak I need flippers. I kick and kick and it is working but oh so slow, kicking kicking and rising and we are almost there and I kick as I am dying with my legs engulfed by cold flames and I am kicking and we break the surface. Are they breathing? I can't look. They are in my arms and I kick and tread the water and yell but there is no one and the banks are so far away.

Are they breathing?

I jostle them as I struggle to keep us floating, nothing to hang onto but my babies, the water bottles forgotten which were probably useless anyway but, no, there they are right next to me. I grab them and they do help the floating a little, just a little. I hold the boys and kick for shore.

It always stops right there.


Feedback is welcome (where to put feedback, I don't know/remember). What works, what flows and what doesn't? Which parts are unclear or confusing? What sort of distance do you feel from "me" in this story? Did I get you into my head, into the car, or did I leave you out there somewhere? Thank you!
post #7 of 23
BelovedK, I found your poem every intense and evocative.

"Ten years old, dreaming his death,
hating the body he came with."

I think this is my favorite line. The "hating the body he came with" was unexpected, and so it works well.

For me, and it could just be my own difficulty in interpreting literature, especially poetry, I thought the poem was maybe too short for me to get my mind around it. I know its about abuse, but couldn't find the target of the poem, exactly. Who, or what, specifically, you were writing about. I don't mean that it has to be a specific person; it could be a concept, but I felt in the end that I hadn't successfully understood what was trying to be communicated.

The images were intense and striking. Overall, I enjoyed reading this poem. I'm sorry that I'm not very good with poetry. I'm a horrible poet, myself.
post #8 of 23
Lavender, WOW.

I'm reading along (it flows very nicely, in my opinion) thinking ah, I'm reading a "drama in real life" from Reader's Digest and then

"Won't we?

Just what am I planning on doing, anyway?"

suddenly the whole thing shifts. It becomes a little bit eerie, a little bit you start to wonder. Its sliding me someplace unexpected and I really want to read more. So I find myself reading faster, now.

The piece is so talented at foreshadowing, and creating a mood. I wondered, "what is she going to do with that pen?" I marvelled at the details, which brought the piece right into my present. It wasn't a story being told to me, I was there, because of the details.

Towards the ending paragraphs, where things start to go well for the narrator and her boys (she gets them out, you start to lose any doubt that things are going to turn out bad) I felt that the earlier eerieness began to get lost. I don't know if you want to maintain that wonderful eerieness and increase it, or if you were settling down to close the piece. I personally found the almost dreamlike quality of beginning to doubt the narrator very intriguing, but that may not have been what you intended for the piece. I found myself reminded of Freud's theory that dreams are wish fullfillments, which led me to suspect that the narrator had a darker side. I wanted to see more of that darker side, before the "light" side won in the end. I also wanted to see something totally unexpected at the end, not sure what, exactly, but something that both explained more about the narrator and elevated the piece towards a more profound truth.

These are just the responses I found in myself while reading and thinking about the piece. They may or may not be helpful. I very, very much enjoyed reading this and feel there is enormous talent in the writing.
post #9 of 23
BellinghamCrunchie, thank you for taking the time to comment. Oh, so much to think about. My intention with the ending was to leave the reader wondering whether or not we make it to shore. Maybe I should rewrite to clarify that uncertainty. It's so hard, because sitting here at my desk, I want to change it, to think we survive. But when I am able step outside of any attachment to the story, I want to keep it interesting and dark. Know what I mean?

“I wanted to see more of that darker side, before the "light" side won in the end. I also wanted to see something totally unexpected at the end, not sure what, exactly, but something that both explained more about the narrator and elevated the piece towards a more profound truth.”

That will keep me thinking for a while. What a fantastic suggestion for the ending. I like it. If I come up with anything different, I'll post it.
post #10 of 23
Lavender, I also felt like i was there, you wrote as if you've experienced the situation before.

What i got from the ending was the doubt as to the boys survival, it was clear to me, and very dark (i like that)

I don't have any constructive feedback except that i wouldn't change a thing (upon reading it twice,) except perhaps the overuse of the word 'we'

The dream held alot of tension and suspense, and the imagery was so effective, I hope i don't start having that dream now
post #11 of 23
BellinghamCrunchie,

Thanks for the feedback. Upon re-reading the poem i can see your point. It was written out of alot of emotion (a true experience) A first draft. I think I'll rewrite it / edit it to make it more clear to the reader. Of course it is clear to me (sometimes in times of intense emotion, i expect the reader to know what i'm talking about)

I'm open to more feedback on how i could make it more understandable...what didn't make sense? I realize that i need to develop DS's character more so you know who I'm talking about.
post #12 of 23

Mirror Broken on the Floor

Winding up, He talks fast,
panicking about the next day.
Blonde hair covering his eyes,
Spinning in his own stratosphere.

The nightmares feel real,
wild eyed, morphing into a fiend.
Wide eyed innocence, out of control,
objects hurled across the room.

The nightmares feel real,
they come in the form of threats.
Imagined blood oozing from the knife,
embedded in mothers chest.

The nightmares feel real,
doors slam hard enogh to crack plaster.
Obscenities shrieked,
following the trail of threatened blood.

The nightmares feel real,
they come in the form of abuse.
Sister, hiding in the corner,
as he shouts her into submission.

The nightmares feel real,
rolling in the form of waves.
ten years old,dreaming his death,
hating the body he came with.

The nightmares feel real,
fading in the soft shape of whispers.
Gently calming, talking him down,
the mirror broken on the floor.


I hope this is more clear. It's a daily nightmare to manage a child with early onset bipolar.
I'm open to feedback bc i wrote this quickly and it is still in first draft phase.
post #13 of 23
Its beautiful/painful. It brought tears to my eyes. I could feel the boy's conflict between rage and fear; self-hatred and love.

Its amazing to me how utterly able the writer was to be so fully in the boy's experience.

On a personal level not having to do with writing, what a lucky child he is to have a mother so connected and in tune with him. He must be terrified of himself and his emotions at times; how reassuring it must be to him to know that he is understood.
post #14 of 23
Thank you BellinghamCrunchie, It helps to get the positive feedback. We just had another violent 'episode' and i know it has nothing to do with writing, it helps that someone witnesses it (besides me)
post #15 of 23
belovedk,

I've been wanting to get back to you with feedback on your poem and since I'm not so much into poetry (though I'm trying to learn to be) I haven't really known what to say (except that I wish you success in managing his illness and I'm so glad you have a place to direct and release your emotions regularly). So...thank you for your patience. After reading the second version, my reaction is much clearer I think because is so much more powerful. And the questions that were bouncing around in my head after reading the first version were all answered. What imagery. Terrifying. After the winding and spinning references in the first stanza, I felt he/I was spinning out of control during the whole poem until the end, which was a spiral down to the floor. I feel really upset and sad when I read the part about shouting his sister into submission, and the part about hating the body he came with. It's hard enough to see adults suffer but so much more painful to see it with children. I love the line with "soft shape of whispers"-- such beautiful words.
post #16 of 23
Thanks Lavender, I really like your prose work. My challenge is in giving feedback, esp when i really like what I've read...I feel like i need to say something 'constructive'

Thanks also for the well wishes for my son. It makes me cry to think of what he does to himself and his sister.
post #17 of 23
BelovedK,

The second version of your poem really struck me. I think things are much clearer.
I very much like the form ( I love poetry forms) of your poem, the rhythm the repetition creates, I almost feel like someone's rocking in the corner saying "the nightmares feel real" over and over again trying to cope because they ARE real. I think it is very effective. I might experiment with the use of some colons or semi-colons in place of some of the periods in each stanza and see how you like the flow.

Heather
post #18 of 23

Lavender

You had me!! My little heart was beating so fast as you tried to plan your escape! I could feel your fear, frustration, confusion and sense of urgency. My first read on this board and it wasnt disappointing at all!
post #19 of 23

Here today gone tomorrow

I had never know that when my first son was born how I would fall totally and deeply inlove with him. I felt a connection with him I had never had with his sister. Looking at him made me cry. I always knew there was something speical yet scary about him. I feared for him from the day he came to breath his first breath. I always have had a horrible fear of lossing him. Like something bad would happen. Someone would take him from me, or he would .... I cant even say it out loud. And as he has grown over the years my concerns grew. His behavior became more and more violent, more and more agressive. He would talk beyond his years. Sometimes saying mean and menecing things. It became more then I could handle. He however had these sweet moments and these wonderful deep conversations with me. I can recall laying in the bathtub pregnant with my third child and he would wash my belly so the baby would be clean, rub my feet and bring me tall glasses of ice water. Now here we are and he is ready to turn 7. He has been dx with ODD, PDD NOS, and ADHD. I still worry about the adult he will become and for his safety more then my other two. I just want to hold him as tight as I can at all times and watch over him. I can see now why I have that fear in me, because he needs my extra guidance.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinas3muskateers
I had never know that when my first son was born how I would fall totally and deeply inlove with him. I felt a connection with him I had never had with his sister. Looking at him made me cry. I always knew there was something speical yet scary about him. I feared for him from the day he came to breath his first breath. I always have had a horrible fear of lossing him. Like something bad would happen. Someone would take him from me, or he would .... I cant even say it out loud. And as he has grown over the years my concerns grew. His behavior became more and more violent, more and more agressive. He would talk beyond his years. Sometimes saying mean and menecing things. It became more then I could handle. He however had these sweet moments and these wonderful deep conversations with me. I can recall laying in the bathtub pregnant with my third child and he would wash my belly so the baby would be clean, rub my feet and bring me tall glasses of ice water. Now here we are and he is ready to turn 7. He has been dx with ODD, PDD NOS, and ADHD. I still worry about the adult he will become and for his safety more then my other two. I just want to hold him as tight as I can at all times and watch over him. I can see now why I have that fear in me, because he needs my extra guidance.



Tina, I can SO relate. It's hard to have a child with so many problems. Stay strong and take care of him
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