I Think This is When the Real Work Begins

First: this is a REALLY weird post.  Disturbing, even, at least to me.  Even on re-reading it.  Just FYI.

[Trigger warning for violence.  Skip the content in italics if you need to.]

Do you ever wake up during a dream?  Not wake up FROM a dream, but wake up IN your dream?  So that really you’re still asleep and you don’t know it?  I do, sometimes.

In my dream last night, I went about my day in a house that was mine (but wasn’t really, in that way that dreams have), meeting people that I knew (but don’t really), making new friends (that don’t really exist).  And I was in someone’s house and there was a fire.  Everyone cleared out of the house except me, and a man came down the stairs.  He intended to rape me, and we had a violent fight before I was able to escape the house.  Everyone outside was gone, cleared out, and I started walking.  I walked across lawns and down park paths, away from the whole thing.  And the park paths got darker with the shade of the trees over them: so much shade that eventually I was walking in the dark.  And then I realized that I was crying.  And my clothes were shredded.  And I was covered in blood.  And when I looked up at the trees, they were bleeding, blood dripping off the ends of the leaves in narrow streams, like rainwater.  And someone was laughing, and I was crying, crying, crying.  And then I woke up (but not really).  And I was back in that house, and I’d been raped, and there was blood everywhere, everywhere, and that man was laughing at me, telling me, “I told you I would.  I told you.”  And the thing that was most horrifying to me was that I couldn’t remember it.  I was covered in blood, but felt completely normal.  If there hadn’t been so much blood – on the carpet, the walls, smeared across the windows in frantic handprints where I’d tried to escape, to call out, to get away – I would never have known.  THAT was the most terrifying, horrifying part: that my mind had been somewhere else, walking through bleeding trees, and that I was unable to fight for myself, or even REMEMBER it afterward.

And then I woke up.  (For real, this time.)  And as I always do when I have those dreams, I lay in bed for a while, afraid to move, afraid that I was still dreaming, listening for whispers in the stillness, watching for movement in the shadows, wondering if he could see the light reflecting off of my open eyes, and if he knew I was awake.  And as I always do after 15 minutes or so, I wondered fleetingly if this would be what it would be like to lose my mind: to know rationally that there was nothing there, no one watching, that it was just a dream, but unable to move out of fear and terror, running through the mental checklist of what I have within easy reach to throw and how close an attacker would have to get to me in order for fighting back to be surprising and effective, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THERE’S NO ONE THERE.  In those moments, I feel my sanity cracking around the edges.

And I know how melodramatic that sounds – how melodramatic it IS, really.  It reminds me of being a little kid, so afraid of the monsters under my bed that I would jump from my bed to the middle of the room and RUN for the bathroom as fast as I could.  Anything to stay out of easy reach.  If you can remember that childhood terror, you know what I’m feeling at 3 in the morning.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was losing weight.  I stammered a minute and finally said, “Hell if I know,” which of course is a lie.  And that person followed with, “Well, you look good!” which I know to EVERY NORMAL PERSON IN AMERICA is a compliment.  But I always feel a little bit of a sharp pain in my stomach when people say that because of course the question prompted by that statement can only be, “Well, how did you think I looked before?”  It’s the ultimate backhanded compliment, really, made worse when it’s a compound statement: “You look good!  I mean, you ALWAYS looked good!  But you just look REALLY good now!”  And that reaction always sounds suspisciously like backpedaling.

The funny thing is that I couldn’t think of another thing that might have triggered that dream.  I was upset after that person’s comment.  Not angry or crying or anything that extreme, but there was a knot in my stomach that didn’t fade as the day wore on.  I’m still parsing out what the experience meant and what the dream meant in relation to the experience, although I have some theories.  And most of those theories are centered around conforming, of giving up my SELF, without even realizing it, handing my body over to societal expectations and saying, “Fine.  It’s easier to conform and lose weight than to fight back.”

This is when I always stop losing weight: as soon as someone notices.  I feel defensive, on edge, as though every nerve in my body is exposed and raw.  There’s nothing anyone can say that I’ll perceive as anything other than, “you fat cow,” except maybe, MAYBE something along the lines of, “You look great; are you getting more sleep or something?”  That I might be ok with, because it’s not as loaded a question.  But I don’t want to stop.  I have to figure out what to say to people, because I’m planning on losing enough that it will be VERY noticeable.  I’m thinking that when folks ask if I’m losing weight, I might respond with a smile and the statement, “Yes, but I don’t really want to talk about it.”


I wrote that yesterday (Saturday).  And as I was in the middle of it, my mom called, telling me that Grandpa had taken a turn for the worse, and would probably die within the week.  I dropped everything and went home. 

And indeed, he looks like my grandma did at the very end: hollow and sunken and a little bit blank.  He’s in a lot of pain: his heart is failing and he has horrible edema.  There’s so much water that it leaks from his skin, and it he hurts when anyone touches him, although his hands are ok, so we can hold his hands.

He rallied a little bit today, and I have to say that I hope it’s the just-before-dying rally, and not a real, I’m-staying-alive-after-all rally.  Because he won’t get any better.  Any time he spends alive now, he’ll spend wracked with pain, screaming and crying when the nurses try to shift him (to prevent bedsores).  He’s wanted to die for a long time.  I’m praying that he dies soon.  So if you believe in some sort of God, please pray that S/He takes my grandpa sooner rather than later.  No one should go through what he’s going through right now.

I’ll probably be spending a lot of time at home this week, so I don’t know how much posting there will be.  Things are . . . strange, to say the least.


8 responses to “I Think This is When the Real Work Begins

  1. praying for you.
    for him.
    for strength and for lessening of the pain.
    I was in the same place a bit ago with my grandmother.
    she was 101 and simply was READY.
    and I wanted her to stay (for me) and yet realized I had to want to let her GO (for her.)


  2. This post is so loaded with stuff, it’s difficult to know what to comment on!

    Your dream was very disturbing – I used to have similar dreams when I lived alone. It is terrifying. I rarely dream anymore, thank heavens! (At least, dreams that I remember.)

    I feel compassion for your grandfather, but I fully understand the desire to release him from his pain. I hope he is at peace soon.

  3. Thinking of you Marste, be kind to yourself.

    Lola x

  4. i am so sorry. i hope his suffering is short

  5. You guys have hospice, right? I think your mom posted something about calling them.
    I hope he goes quick and you all don’t suffer too much though grief is always an interesting, sometimes long process.

  6. Wow, there’s a lot here. I’ve had disturbing dreams where I think I’m awake, but eventually something is just strange enough to make me thankfully realize I’m dreaming, and shake myself out. Nothing quite as scary as yours, thankfully.

    Oddly enough, the only person who says “you look great, have you lost weight?” is the ex, but he is just playing. He claims someone told him he should always say that to every woman (he’s kidding on that one, too). Some people do comment that I’ve lost a lot, but don’t tie it to looks. For the record, I think I look much better than I did when I was bigger.

    As for your grandpa, I really feel for him and you and your family. I honestly don’t see why we have compassion to put our pets down when there are clearly in pain, but people, no, even if they beg for it. Actually, that’s not totally true either, my childhood best friend’s mom, never even took a drink in her life, went out in a morphine cloud when she decided it was time. I guess it depends on the doctor, and the family. Hopefully he won’t have to suffer too much longer.

  7. I’m praying for you and your whole family, holding you close in my heart, that you are all protected and surrounded by Love, and that your grandfather is able to make the transition out of this life easily and soon.

    About your dream: I completely understand. I, too, have dreams that include waking within them, and being so disoriented when I finally do wake fully, that I doubt my sanity. Your dream sounds particularly horrific. I wonder if that rapist represents the self-sabotaging aspect of yourself, the part of you that is reacting to the thing the person said about your weight and turning it inward. It’s so ingrained a part of you that you aren’t even conscious of what’s happening until it’s too late. Maybe this is a dream of self awareness, in a twisted way? You know you are doing this to yourself (turning societal judgment inward), but it’s such a violent thing you have no idea how to cope with it?

    As for the person and their stupid weight comments, ugh! When people say that to me, I always cringe, though I try to remember to reply with , “No why? Do I look ill? I’m fine, really, but thanks for your concern.” Or something similar. If I can. But yeah, screw that.

    Hang in there.

    (JB’s friend with the blue hair)

  8. I just stumbled across your weblog…

    Wow…that dream is very very disturbing to me… it is the sort of nightmare I have had sometimes. I’m sorry you had to wake up to that kind of terror a second time. Now that I don’t live alone the nightmares largely stay away…and my husband has a knack of waking me up from any I have if he notices…

    I relate about the weight loss thing. It was hard for me at first…to not make it a backwards insult and just take the compliment as it is. There is something about knowing people are looking at me enough to notice such things…it’s always wierded me out a little bit. It’s tricky to learn to accept it. It does get easier…slowly.

    I’m sorry about your grandpa. I hope that with the strange times to come you and your Mom can draw strength from each other and find a way to come out of this with some sort of peace in the end.

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