This post at the Toast regarding nightmares was difficult to read. Truly, the human mind is a house of horrors — I couldn’t even make it through all of the comments. (On that note, I apologize in advance if I repeating something that someone else already talked about over there.)
While I don’t generally remember my dreams, I’ve had my share of nightmares. They seem to come in waves. They are also boringly typical: unspecified terror, specific terror, physical deterioration, feelings of being trapped, all the usual stuff. Nightmares are, by definition, not fun.
But they’re not the worst kind of dreams. I can handle nightmares. It’s the other types of dreams I can’t stand.
I sometimes have dreams about falling in love, or being in love. I sometimes have dreams of indescribable pleasantness and placidity, of lives free of worry and want. I occasionally dream of safety and self-sufficiency. And all of those dreams are the worst.
When you wake up from a nightmare, you can comfort yourself with the realization that they’re not real. When you wake up from pleasant dreams, you can only lament that they’re not.
You wake from a nightmare and realize that you’re not being abducted by hideous aliens. You wake up from a good dream and realize that you are alone; or broke; or trapped in a deteriorating house or relationship; or in a precarious situation, for which you need help that you will never ever get.
Good dreams don’t comfort or heal you. They merely peel back the delusion that you’ve built up as a defense mechanism, the one that allows you to go on day to day. The one that keeps you from dwelling over the realization that it is in fact your waking life that is the screaming nightmare.