I used to have nightmares and night terrors. Their frightening power would paralyze me with fear in the middle of the night during my elementary and middle school years. I would actually believe that there were evil things in my room shortly after waking up. Throughout these years, the dreams began as frightening stories and later progressed to more abstract feelings of fear. Early nightmares featured fearsome attackers chasing me while I was unable to move. Later, the fears became embodied in a faceless geometric pattern. Instead of being chased by an actual pursuer, only a vague, disembodied fear would follow me. After this, the familiar mass of fear would simply present itself to produce its terrifying effect.
It was like watching a crystal form out of nothingness. While I knew that the room was there, I also perceived a vacuous space superimposed on the space of the room. A dream space, in other words. Within that dream space, the crystal of fear formed. It started as a tiny seed, and grew rapidly once it took form. The crystal always had two planes of symmetry, and would grow in unpredictable intricate patterns. Its edges were perfectly square. I could never see the crystal clearly, somehow my vision within the dream space was distorted to look past it whenever trying to center it within my field of vision. The crystal did not remain static in structure once it had formed, but continued to change its internal structure and patterning as its edges grew further.
These nightmares went away long ago. After I started high school, there were more pressing things on my mind than imaginary monsters. Fitting in took over as my new bogeyman. Feeling afraid and guilty about not fitting in at high school and being bullied took over from the haunting crystalline fear. Now, I had more tangible representations of fear instead of a vague, immobilizing sense of doom. I would lay awake at night, looking at the shadows cast through miniblinds while trying to consider how I should have reacted to the day’s experiences.
High school passed, and the bullies moved on. We are all different people now. However, similar fears would haunt my mind in the form of disapproval from people past and present. Memories of judgment that I’d held on to replayed themselves in my mind late at night. Vague disapproving comments, minor snubs and imagined insults formed persistent concerns. They brought doubt into my mind to whether I was a good person.
One night after returning to bed from a late night trip to the bathroom, a new thought occurred. Nagging thoughts aren’t coming from the darkness or shadows in the room. Shadows and blurs don’t hold enough information to communicate thoughts of judgment. The walls are bare of ideas as well. Likewise, the furniture sits vacant of both occupants and ideas. The furnace or AC cannot speak ideas as a person or radio program might. Cars passing by on the road offer only transient hissing and then leave, without offering any ideas. Basically, the space of a quiet, darkened bedroom at night has very little information content. Any ideas, opinions or attitudes come from the person laying there. I had carried them in, and held on to them still.
During the day, internalized ideas and attitudes blend in with the information coming in from external sources. Glaring, blaring sources of information mask what is already inside. In the quiet darkened space at night, internal attitudes and ideas are easily resolved in bright contrast against the dark emptiness of the room. In the dark quiet, I was visible. Like stars visible only against darkness or radio signals more clearly heard at night during a lull in activity, internal attitudes appeared more clearly in quiet darkness.
Now I saw that the fear all came from me. The fear of a nightmarish pursuer. The fear of crystalline terror. The fears of embarrassment and social rejection. They remained when the outside influences go away. To use a descriptive term from another noder, the dark clouds of ‘brain weather’ come from me. I am my own rain maker. Sunshine and storms both come from the same source. I move the clouds to form the seasons of my mind.
While these realizations may have been possible through other methods like counseling, these spare moments of sleeplessness are also fertile ground for attitude changes. During these quiet minutes between sleep, outside influences are muted so that only internal voices are heard. After the bright lights of day fade away, the internal glow of attitudes are visible. By listening to them and watching for them, it is possible to question and change them.