Dream, Interrupted: Past and Present


Background: I’m terrified of scary movies. My parents would watch scary movies about cannibalistic killers with a lot of gore when I was young. They never considered the fact that a five year old shouldn’t be watching someone getting chopped up. 

However, I had momentarily forgotten this fear in the light of hanging out with my suitemates. I agreed to watch “The Ring.”

Twenty minutes in, I let out my first scream. Maybe it was the sugar rush, but I ended up frantically holding onto the person next to me. My hyperness had transitioned into dread and fear.

My roommate on the bottom bunk was tossing and turning in her sleep as if she was having a nightmare. The thought that I might have a nightmare as well scared the bejesus out of me. I imagined the girl from “The Ring” underneath my bed. After the movie ended, my hyperactive imagination ran through every possible horrendous situation in my mind. I imagined her crawling out of the well in my dream; I imagined her chasing me. The list went on and on: My mind would conjure up her face. I deeply regretted my decision not to opt out of watching that movie. 

I repeated over and over: Please don’t let me remember my dream tonight. Please don’t let me remember my dream tonight. This mantra, and a lot of concentration, had somehow enabled me to suppress my dreams that night. When I woke up I didn’t remember a thing.

But then, I didn’t remember a lot of things after that night.

I could no longer recall my dreams every day. My fear of having a nightmare still progressed. I knew that I might not get a nightmare that night, but it could be days later when I think I’m safe that the nightmare bites me in the ass.

I was more fearful of dreaming up the girl in “The Ring” than 

not having a dream. I didn’t care if my ability to remember dreams went away, I didn’t want to run into that hideous girl in my unconscious. 

There had always been a little fear with dreaming: You never know what you’re going to get. Being able to remember the finer details of my dream sometimes makes me a little scared to close my eyes at night because it felt so real.

If seeing the girl from “The Ring” in a movie had me peeing in my pants, I didn’t want to know how it would feel to see her in a dream. It was a scary experience for me, and because my dreams felt so real I don’t think I could handle it if I were to have a nightmare about her. My dreams blurred the line between fictitious imagination and reality because I was actually experiencing it.

It doesn’t even have to be after I watch a scary movie; it could be seeing a frightening image that made me nervous and paranoid.

To this day, I have not had a dream about “The Ring.” But then again, I don’t remember my dreams on most nights nowadays. My suppression had undoubtedly affected my recollection abilities. Nevertheless, I do continue to keep a dream diary. There are still the occasional nightmares and freaky dreams, but that had always happened even before the dream repression.

As I said in an earlier column, dreams are like a double-edged sword. It involuntarily sucks you into a world you may not have been able to conjure on your own — a world you may never want to enter. But it is this capriciousness and randomness — never knowing what you’re going to get — that gets me hooked on figuring it all out.

I want to continue working on my dream diary, and maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to lift this mental suppression that I have placed on myself. I think dreaming is like love: It’s better to have experienced it and be hurt than to have never known it at all.