Night Terrors

Trigger Warning: Irrational Dreams

My mother had gone to all my college courses and sat through them. She was distraught and crying. I was outraged when I found out. She had been doing this for some time. She knew I had had Samuel out of wedlock and was determined to discover if I was turning out right on her own. For a moment I thought that I was unable to have another baby with my beloved, Tony, and the sense of loss, an old wound, washed over me in waves.

Then I saw my mother as she went to my classes, talked to my professors, and met my friends. Judging me, and testing my acceptability as a human begin.

In between classes were heated exchanges about my success in college and in life. Whispered in angry words that ran together. Part of this argument was a horrible realization that I was still in my dysfunctional marriage to Eric and my mother and I argued vehemently about whether or not I would divorce him. She, of course, didn’t approve.

I wanted to show her my greatest achievements and remembered that my greatest achievement had been writing in this blog. That I didn’t want her to know because then HE would know. I directed her to look at some of my older work and kept her away from this blog.

After attending all my classes where my professors praised me everywhere I went, my mother turned and said, “You can come home then. I guess I owe you some kind of apology but because I don’t know how to say it, I am not going to.”
She took me home. I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to go back there to the scene of so many crimes against me. Nothing had changed. My father sat on the edge of his recliner, hands loosely clasped between his legs, and his attention focused on my mother who was standing giving a report in front of him.

I stood silently by my mother who told my father this, “She is well-liked by her professors and peers. Yes, she has had a child out of wedlock, but she has somehow become a good mother anyway. Is she going to grow up to be the kind of woman we wanted…”

Under my breath, I whispered, “NO!”

“…? Yes! She is.”

My heart sinks in defeat. I didn’t want to be what they think is good.

My mother drags me to my sister’s room. My sister tries to hug me, but I don’t want to hug her back.

My sister said, “That’s okay. If you want affection you can get it from them,” she points to strangers sitting on a couch in our room.

My mother then says, “We have to get you better modest clothes and your sister has decided to give you some of hers.”

“Right! Just don’t take anything that is pretty or flattering,” my sister informs me, “But outside of that, you can borrow anything.”

“There,” my mother says lovingly petting my sister’s face, “See how generous she is!”

I look around and start to panic.

“Where’s Alice?!?” I demand.

My mother looks contrite and my sister shakes her head and quickly leaves.

“WHERE IS ALICE?!?” I yell at my mother.

“She gave her away as soon as you left,” my sister breezes past and says to me.

I am inconsolable. I start crying and my heart breaks into a thousand pieces. I have been forced back into living with my biological family? And now I have to face them without Alice? On my knees, I begin to beg my mother.

“Please call whoever you gave her to. She has learned so much and is such a great service dog. Tell me it hasn’t been too long ago that you did this and they haven’t had a chance to bond with her. You HAVE TO get her back!”

Tears are streaming down my face and my anguish is spirit-crushing. I don’t want to be in this house, but if I have to be facing it without Alice is unbearable.

“She wasn’t a real service dog,” she says with vitriol. “You trained her.”

The obviously you suck at training was left unsaid.

“Besides it has been too long the family I gave her to won’t give her back.”

I cling to my mother’s unwavering form crying and begging her to bring back Alice. I might live through this forced hell if Alice is with me.

“No,” my mother says, “You can’t have her back.”


I jolt awake trying to orient myself. Alice, where is Alice!?! Right, she died in 2020 of cancer, it set on quick and took her quicker. So my mother’ can’t get her back.

Wait a minute. My mother is dead.

Right, I am in my own bed. In my house with Tony. My new service dog, Cas is on the floor beside my bed. I can see his outline.

I debate waking up Tony by calling Cas onto the bed but just can’t. He would want to comfort me and I would rather assure myself that Cas isn’t some continuation of my dream.

I sit up and debate what to do next to rid myself of the thunderstorm of emotions swirling around.
The violation of being back in that house forced me to be in his presence. Having to pretend I didn’t loathe my biological siblings and mother for rejecting me at my most vulnerable and weak. The disgust I feel with myself for wanting my family’s approval even now. The fear that this blog would be revealed to them and I would be punished for telling the truth and shaming the family by putting our secrets out for the world to see. Alice’s loss like it happened yesterday.

It all seems more real at this moment than the actual bed I am sitting on the edge of, in the actual room light years away from all that shame and pain. Cas comes over and leans on me. His weight helped to ground me back into reality.

I am determined to write more on this blog. I fetch my husband’s bathrobe, and my glasses and plod back to the kitchen with Cas at my side. We make coffee together and I bend over and scrub under his chin like he likes.

“I am so glad you are here,” I croon, “You are such a good boy and I love you very much.”

The coffee pot sputters its last bit of elixir and I grab the cup and trot down to my desk. Where I pound out the dream for you.

Night terrors are common for persons suffering from Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or CPTSD. These hyperrealistic dreams make determining what is real and what is not difficult. The emotions of the dream are ferociously experienced. They often feel more intense in dreams than in the waking world.
Alice had died long ago but yesterday in a ritual, to ancestors, I saluted my first service dog.

In my dream, finding she has gone beyond my reach was the same level of terror and loss I felt when she had first died. A sense of loneliness and having to navigate my illness and CPTSD alone.

In fact, these dreams are often filled with every doubt I have ever had and every feeling of abandonment I have ever felt from my biological family.

The relief from waking is never greater than the pain and emotional roller coaster that these dreams induce.

Making getting away from the bed, sleep, and dreams, to my computer oasis the only option in the early hours of a Monday morning.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s