Nightmares are not something that I experience too often. One of the most vivid nightmares I ever had occurred when I was about three years old. I had the same horrid dream three or four times. Each time I awakened, I was terrified and afraid to go back to sleep.
Even though I was that young, the dream had a lot of symbolism and had I been keen on this later in life, I might have spared myself a lot of heartache and grief. Call it a vision or a dreamlike premonition, but this is what I dreamt:
The room was dark and dim. The walls were covered with light blue wallpaper. A small cushioned chair rested against the wall. Beside this chair was a table with a lamp turned on. The heavy lampshade prevented the light bulb from brightening the room. Standing in the room was a girl with blonde hair. She was probably around eleven years old.
The girl held a large flower in her hand and plucked away pedals with the other. Although she said no words, her action was like, “He loves me, he loves me not . . .”
I don’t know why but the girl frightened me. Something about her told me to get away. To run. I remember being afraid and running as hard as I could to escape from the room, but there wasn’t a door. I hit the wall and tore at the wallpaper, but I couldn’t get away. The girl never moved. She just plucked flower pedals.
I had this nightmare three or four nights in a row. Always the same feeling. Get away from her.
The last time I dreamt this, I hit the wall, ripped through the wallpaper, busted out bricks, and escaped. I never had the dream again. Off and on over my childhood, I thought about the dream but never made any sense of why it lingered in my mind. Eventually, I forgot about it.
When I started dating my first wife, I knew that she had been married twice before. I brought her over to my cousin’s house to meet him and his wife. My cousin was the pastor of a church. After he and his wife met her, he called me a few days later.
He said, “Leonard, I don’t think you should marry her. God has kept me awake all week about this. I’ve prayed and prayed over the situation. The same answer keeps coming. I really don’t think she’s the one.”
I was stunned but “being in love,” I came to her defense. So, he countered with, “Ask her this. Ask her about the men in her past, etc.” So I did. And she lied about it all without flinching and with a straight face. But the truth slowly began to unbury itself not long after we married. Over time, I discovered lots of things that my cousin had warned me about. The warning given to him should have jarred my memory of the nightmare, but I was too blinded by my emotions for it to register.
Her past wasn’t the real problem. Her pathological nature to lie about everything under the sun was. She suffered extreme bipolar disorder and refused to take her medication. She’d rather lie than tell the truth. She stole from people. She cheated on all the men in her life, including me. She was verbally and physically violent. Twice she tried to stab me. Once with a knife and another time with a jagged piece of glass from a picture frame she smashed.
After two years, I finally left the marriage, but I was a shell of the person I had been previously. My self-esteem was in shambles. I had allowed my mind to shut down in order to protect myself. I worked, ate, and slept. It was all I did during the last months of the relationship and it was how I survived, functioning at a bare minimum.
Only one time during that marriage did I come close to remembering the nightmare. Once at her grandmother’s house I saw a picture of her when she was about eleven or twelve and thought, “That girl looks familiar. Had I seen her when I was little?”
In my nightmare, yes. She was the girl in that dream. Only it was still a few years after the divorce before I put those pieces together. Eerie but it’s the truth.
Ever wondered why I write dark themed novels? This is part of the reason. I say it a lot, but writing has been my therapy. But since I’ve been writing dark novels, I seldom have a nightmare. Of course, I’d rather dream an imaginary nightmare than to be living in one. At least you can leave the one by waking up. The other takes longer to escape.