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Dream-Awakened Reality

Cole Campbell

Cole Campbell

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Wearing a long black hoodie and a pale face, he chases after me across the railroad tracks in the dead of night with a sharpened blade in his left hand. I look all around me, hoping to see a familiar face, but there are not any. I am alone, and flames are filling the darkness ahead of me.

I begin to run, but he gets closer and closer, and I begin to realize that I am not running–I am merely moving my legs, but they won’t take a single step forward. I open my mouth and try my hardest to scream, but nothing comes out. I need to run, I need to scream, but suddenly I freeze up. But even if I could scream, what would be the point? It’s just me and him and the world crashing down in front of our eyes.

No matter how many times I have this dream, I never see his eyes. I’m always too frightened to make eye contact with him. The only thing I see is the darkened outlines that the shape of his eyes make.

He doesn’t seem to care, though. The only thing he sees is me. My heart beats faster and faster as I see him approaching me, never stopping to take a breath. He finally catches up to me and grabs the back of my shirt, and then I wake up just as the blade touches my back, before it pierces my skin.

I have always believed that dreams hold no meaning, that they are nothing more than my imagination running wild. It was not until recently that I realized that my dreams hold a much deeper meaning. They normally portray one of two things: my deepest fears or my fondest desires.

I often dream about my temporary desires. But every so often, my fears consume me and crawl their way into the back of my mind and into my dreams, making me feel helpless and submissive.

Recurring nightmares are different from any ordinary dream. Normally, I wake up and then it is all over, right? Wrong. They continue to rampage my mind until I recognize my fear and overcome it. Until I stand up to them, I never know when the next time I am going to wake up in a cold sweat and tears will be. I have had the exact same nightmare since I was six. I have always dealt with my nightmares by trying to forget them.

Nightmares are more than just a scary experience for me, though–they are obstacles, challenges. Every nightmare I have is an opportunity for me to acknowledge my fears and a reminder to deconstruct their meanings and overcome the tight hold that they have over me.

I have always retreated from conflict. Instead of telling people what I really think, I run at the first sign of any real problems. Because of this, I have always had trouble connecting with people on an intimate level. I’m scared of getting close to someone, not because they might hurt me, but because I might hurt them.

10 years of the same nightmare, 10 years of the same fear, and yet it took me this long to figure out what my recurring dream really meant. I cannot continue to run away from people out of fear that someone will end up hurt. I cannot continue to run away from my feelings and my problems. Sooner or later, they are going to catch up to me. That is what my dream was trying to get me to realize: one day, all of those memories that I worked so hard to forget will pile up and be too much to handle.

We cannot run from our nightmares anymore than we can run away from our problems–sooner or later, they will catch up to us. They always do. Building a wall around ourselves is only a temporary solution.

 

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