Children sometimes have nightmares, often because of the shows they watch on television. Growing up, my mother had a list of shows which I was not allowed to watch. The list included the “Jaws” series, the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, and the “Friday the 13th” series. I think “Friday the 13th” was the one with Jason, in the hockey mask. I hated that guy. Oh, and the “Halloween” series. Watching these caused many problems for me and my mother. I was afraid of the swimming pool if I was in there alone; the bathtub, because Jaws could come up the drain; and my bed, because any of the characters could be hiding under it, waiting to slice my ankles with a scalpel. (Not sure which movie that came from – but I’m sure my mom added it to the list as well.) I would walk into my bedroom to go to bed, turn off the light, and take a flying leap across my room into my bed so I wouldn’t have to stand next to whatever was hiding underneath.
I have been afraid of the dark forever. I used to sleep with my closet light on, comforted by the slices of light shining through the slots in the metal doors, and also by my grandfather, who died long before I was born, but whom I swear I could see sitting in the corner by my closet, kind of floating mid-air, watching me and keeping me safe. When my mother would come in during the night to turn off my light (why she couldn’t just leave it on all night I still don’t understand), I would do one of two things. I would either grab my flashlight and my stack of books, and hide under the covers reading until I finally fell asleep, or I would take my pillows and blanket and sleep in the doorway of my room. My parents’ room was right next to mine, and I wasn’t allowed to crawl into bed with them, so I would get as close to them as possible. My mom has pictures of me sleeping, half in my room, half in the hallway, with my pillows under me as a makeshift tiny bed.
I never outgrew my fear of the dark, unfortunately. I still get scared, especially when I am home alone. My eyes and ears aren’t as good as they used to be, and I worry that I may not be hearing or seeing something. If I go down the hall, or downstairs, suddenly I’ll feel all tingly and my breath catches and I have run back to where ever I came from as quickly as I can before it gets me. Whatever “it” is. Then I feel really stupid.
I used to watch the X-Files, so that didn’t help very much. It went off the air, and all was well. Then I started watching Medium, and I started having nightmares again. I forgot about this, though, because the season started late this year. Last night I watched the season premiere (I love having a DVR) and last night I had a nightmare.
I can’t remember all of it. It involved the Mr., trying to teach me some sort of lesson about how to protect myself if I was attacked. I don’t remember why he was doing this. He had two really long double-sided knives. They kind of looked like throwing knives. He also had three things that looked like a mix between a screwdriver and an ice pick. I don’t know what they were, but they were all black. So were the knives. He was controlling them with his eyes and they were moving on their own slicing my belly and my cheeks. I could see the blood coming out of my belly. He was asking me how I was going to defend myself (did I mention I just finished the fourth Harry Potter book, too?). Somehow I gained control of these knives and pokey-things and they all flew into my hands. I sat up in the bed and when he opened his mouth to tell me to stop, I jammed the knife into his mouth and into the back of his throat so hard I could feel the point sticking out of the back of his neck. I did the same thing with the second knife, immediately below the first. He made that icky gaggy noise that you hear people in the movies make when they get their throats cut. He lay down on the bed, on his side, his eyes wide open, as if to ask my why I did that to him, but he could not speak. I lay down next to him, on my side, staring into his scared eyes and felt nauseous. What did I do? Why did I do that? How could I do that?
I jumped up and said “I’m sorry, I got scared! You scared me! I will call an ambulance!” He sat up, and pulled the knives out of his mouth. There was no blood. He pulled me on to his lap and said “I want you to know I would never hurt you, but other people will.” I sat in his lap, sobbing because I just knew he was going to die, but he didn’t die. He just kept patting my hair, telling me it was ok, to “shhh, be quiet baby”, that he will always be ok, but I won’t, and I have to let him teach me how to protect myself. I don’t know who or what I had to protect myself from, but I had to let him teach me, and I had to trust him. And he still wasn’t dying, or bleeding, and he could talk, how could he be talking? I stabbed all the way through his neck. He was fine, but I was so sure he was going to die and I would be the one that killed him. But he never did.
And then I woke up. I have felt sick to my stomach ever since.