I had a nice article lined up for you today about Minecraft and life skills, but something happened to me this morning that I felt HAD to share with you. It’s a very personal experience and I’m really baring it all… I hope you don’t mind.
I awakened at 3 am, which has been happening for nearly three weeks for some reason. I performed my newly created middle-of-the-night rituals: glass of water, briefly let the dogs out, interacted with my teens (who are still up at that hour!), and became wrapped up in an episode of Law and Order SVU, which always seems to be airing on one of the crime channels in my cable rotation.
Trying to fall asleep to a crime drama is another story, so when panic set in about how much slumber I could squeeze in before my 5 am alarm I switched to the “Soundscapes” music channel and tried desperately to quiet my mind.
During that time I had an experience that rocked my very core.
I was fading in and out of sleep – you know that place where you’re dreaming but still aware of sounds and activity in your environment? That sort of sleep “purgatory”, if you will.
In the first part of the short dream, someone was outside our living room window, mowing our lawn, and the dogs were alert and circling like they do when a stranger is near our property. I remember thinking that my landlord had just mowed (which was true), so who was this person mowing my yard for a second time this week? Especially in December?
At this point, I could feel myself hyperventilating a bit in real life, sort of like when you’re dreaming that someone’s chasing you and you wake up out of breath – your body believes your dreams are real and tends to respond accordingly.
The next segment of the dream paralleled real life: I was lying in my bed trying to get back to sleep before my alarm went off. I was relaxing and drifting… then a wave of paralysis washed over me and I was sinking fast into darkness.
I liken this feeling to a time when I was hospitalized for a bad reaction to a diet pill and was given morphine in my IV to calm my racing heart. I felt the same paralysis wash over me and I couldn’t STAND it. I felt like I had no control of my body and was slipping away fast. How do people get addicted to that stuff, anyway? Who would want to feel so out of control voluntarily?
In the dream I was now falling fast into unconsciousness and I knew deep inside that if I gave in to it I would transition to the non-physical world. I tried to yell, “NO!” and violently shake myself out of it, but no words came. My head was made of cement and my eyelids were unbearably heavy.
I looked at the wall and saw a symbol of a dove appear (similar the kind you see in a Catholic church). I knew this meant death was here to collect me. “NO! Wake up NOW! I want to live!” I desperately tried to reason with my body.
More drifting. Panic. Fear. Fighting to keep my spirit anchored in my physical form… I could feel it stretching and rising and I was not ready. I AM NOT READY. I have so much work to do here. My children would go to into foster care. My dogs would get sent to a kill shelter. No. NO!
I managed to open my eyes and on the wall again briefly appeared a light blue poster that revealed a funny stick person and seven words: Appreciate Life One Day at a Time.
I yelled, “I will. I WILL!” My voice was back. And my alarm was going off.
I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up to reclaim his life on Christmas. Not quite as joyful (yet!), but definitely resigned to looking at the choices I’ve made: the ones that are making me stressed, angry, and feeling hopeless these days.
“But this is an Autism Blog… how does this help me with my child?”
I learn from my beautiful boy every day. Perhaps two of the biggest lessons I keeping forgetting are these:
He lives in the NOW
He is wired for his own happiness
Due to my myriad freelance jobs we don’t currently have days off or vacation time, but he is happy. He Skypes with children all over the world. He sings, hums and laughs all day long. When he feels a surge of energy he gets up and runs around. When he feels mellow he shuts down his computer and draws. When he wants connection he hugs me and tells me he loves me. When he is hungry, he eats.
He does not compare himself to other children or worry about what people think of him. If someone is mistreating him, he simply chooses not to be around them. He doesn’t have a committee in his head that debates and struggles between letting someone down, putting himself last and building resentment because of it, and getting his needs met. He seeks pleasure and avoids pain. He is true to his gifts and strengths and accepts his shortcomings but doesn’t give up on improving them.
Was this experience this morning a wake up call for me to start living in the now? Stop putting myself last? Stop feeling so damned depressed (the holidays are the hardest for me every year)? Get more serious about my training work in the Autism community so I can be more fulfilled and present for my children? Make room for and attract friends and a support network?
What do you think? Was it real or just a dream? Either way, there was a message in it. Have you had any experience like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts or personal stories! Share by commenting below, on the SOA Facebook page, or by privately dropping me a line.