Each night when I go to bed, I make a silent plea to the Sandman to let me rest peacefully, if only for this night. For the briefest moment, it almost appeared as if he heard me. I actually had a single night where I slept like a baby- not waking up once to a racing heart or in a cold sweat. But as the expression goes, all good things must come to an end. Once again I find myself sleeping fitfully, plagued by the overpowering instability of my limbic system (the brain’s center of emotion) while my prefrontal cortex (the region of reason and logic) takes a little snooze itself. The nightmares are back.
They’re never the same- not exactly. The part of my visual cortex which stays awake desperately tries to make sense of the memories and imagination bits tucked away up there. What use is playing the same scene over and over again? The underlying themes, however, are nearly always the same- I’m being stalked, hunted, chased, attacked, raped, abused, gas-lighted, led into some elaborate trap. When the antagonist isn’t a familiar face from the past, it’s generally a beast (oftentimes unseen) that embodies the very essence of the human form that appears far too often.
Each night when I go to bed, I make a silent plea to my psyche to make it through until the morning…
Each morning as I slowly regain consciousness, I rub the images off the backs of my eyelids. I take a few moments to compose myself, to remind myself it was just a nightmare. That it’s okay. That I’m safe. As I roll over onto my back (the one sleep position said to cause nightmares, and ironically the one I can’t fall asleep in) I look at the corner of the room I’ve designated to healing, hope, and happiness. And I see this:
I’d heard of vision boards before, but they always struck me as something for the overly ambitious business intern trying to make her way to the top who’s obsessed with juicing and has a detailed “5 year plan”. Not for some eccentric, anxiety-riddled, If-I-have-to-put-on-pants-the-answer-is-no 20 something year old. But one day it was brought up in the therapy group I was attending at the time, and I thought to myself, why the hell not? I didn’t really believe that simply pasting a bunch of images to a piece of paper was going to subconsciously help me achieve my dreams. And it hasn’t. I still meditate only sporadically. I skip the gym some days. I’ve yet to convince Brandon why we need 6 more cats, and I don’t even know if I want children one day or not.
Psychology Today has written several articles debunking the practice. No, there is no voodoo magic involved in a vision board. And that’s okay. It’s the same as dreamcatchers, or Tarot readings. Your level of receptiveness will determine what you get from it. When I was a child, the dreamcatcher at my aunt’s never worked to erase the images from “Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones” (the same copy of which currently sits on my bookshelf). When I performed my first tarot reading in December 2011, I had drawn “Knight of Cups” card for Other people, and their influences. Come January 2015, for the same situation, I drew Five of Rods (Inverted). I went from “romance, charm, ‘knight in shining armor” mentality, to a card all about disagreement, strife, tension- but inverted- as I was very much avoiding all said conflict. Both fit perfectly into the shell of that “other person”, of that face that haunts my dreams, of that unseen beast.
I’ve heard vision boards be lumped in with these styles of “voodoo magic”. Perhaps it really is all just fanciful poppycock. For me though, it’s about reminding myself what’s important. Maybe it won’t seem so in five years, and that’s okay; It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. My “bucket list” cloud which hangs above my vision board was drawn up New Years Eve, for 2015. Some of those things, I’ve accomplished. Some I’m no longer interested in. But it reminds me that I have dreams. Big dreams. Healthy real life dreams where I matter, make a difference. It helps me remember just who I am, and what I’m capable of, which is so much more than I’ve given myself credit for in the past.
Each morning when I wake up, it reminds me that it was just a nightmare. That it’s okay. That I’m safe…