My Dreaming Life
Aug 13, 2021
*Trigger warning: Trauma nightmares, self-harm, police, psychiatric ward*
As I age, it becomes more intense; a beckoning for me to process what feels like insurmountable, unfathomable pain, buried away.
There are many parts to my story that I don't share.
I don't write about it, or talk about it.
I try not to think about it.
But age, being a mother, and the increasing sense that I deserve to be free; free in my autistic expression means that trauma is no longer willing or able to be buried.
I am working with a therapist and it is not easy.
My dreams are centred around everyday events that for many people would not involve a second thought.
Using an ATM, paying for parking at a ticket machine, being in the city and getting lost, saying something innocent and not realising I've offended someone, going to pay for groceries and realising I've forgotten or lost my wallet.
In my dreams, I'm watched by a thousand eyes.
People, standing around me, in crowds; watching on in unison, their judgement palpable.
I sense it all and it consumes me.
My brain scatters from the pressure of their energy and I can't think.
I stumble my way clumsily, fumbling through with hands that stop working, cards and money slipping through my fingers, dropping all over the ground.
The sound of the metal hitting the hard concrete causes my brain and body to sting and ache and go into shock.
And someone always closes in.
A security guard, a police officer, and ultimately; a psychiatric nurse.
I wail out, primal sounds coming from my body; my screams are desperate as I try to make others understand.
"I'm trying! I'm doing my best!" I scream.."Just give me time!", "I need time to work it out!"...
Since finally being identified as autistic at the age of 33, my dreams have remained the same, but with a new language.
I wail, I flap and shake my hands.
I rock, quickly, on my feet.
"Nooo, wait!", I scream, as the figure of authority comes toward me with handcuffs, a baton, a straight jacket...
"I'm autistic! I'm autistic and I'm trying my best!"
Because I speak. Because I have a degree. Because I work. Because I am a parent. Because I drive a car.
They approach me and the crowd becomes noisy, chattery, shouty and it, too, begins to close in on me.
I wail, louder, completely alone.
I begin hitting myself in the head, closed fist, against my temple.
I crouch down, onto the ground and rock, sobbing and terrified.
The dream always ends the same.
I'm wandering white halls, psychiatric nurses pass me as ghostly figures.
I scan their energy, not daring to look up at them.
I feel into their energy, searching for one with compassion or empathy, so I can ask for my clothes back.
There is a room, where those of us who have been deemed insane are being measured with measuring tape, while one standard outfit is sewn for each of us to wear.
I do as I'm directed, I stand in line and I wait.
I know that none of us is insane.
I know too, that the ghostly figures also know that none of us is insane.
And these dreams, are not only dreams but fragments of my past and very distant but ever-present conscious reality.