nothing as tedious as other people's dreams

but this is my blog so I will post what I like.

when I was drinking I went for vast empty stretches of time when I did not dream at all. my nights were as empty as my days. polluted, empty oceans. my brain too numb from alcohol for the REM sleep stage in which dreams occur.

when I stopped drinking the dreams came back. briefly at first, like flashes of lightning. then before I knew it my nights were full of magic carpet rides, taking me through forgotten lands of emotion and colour.

there are fears, there, too.

one of the fears is of falling. in waking life I find heights exhilarating, peering down from crumbling walls at Sintra or Cornish cliffs while my husband calls me anxiously from a few feet back towards safety.

not in dreams. in dreams I scramble up cliffs, along terraces, and narrow mountain paths. white knuckled, nauseous, sweating and terrified. knowing every moment that I could plunge to my death.

last night I was traversing a wall. my fingers and toes hunting desperately for purchase in the crevices. clinging on to roots and plants protruding from the crumbling surface. a team of climbers were ahead of me. ahead was the only way to go. but I couldn’t go on. this is always what happens. wall. cliff. stairwell in ruined church. can’t go forward, can’t go back.

those in front of me call out encouragement. point out hand and foot holds. but to no avail. I become frozen with fear and dread. I am convinced that it is all right for the other climbers. they are younger and with less fear (or older and with more experience). they are lighter and more agile (or larger and stronger). I cannot do it. I will fall. I will fall.

I do not fall, in my dream.

I cling in paralysis and agony of mind for what seems like an eternity. Then I startle awake and fall back on my pillow in immense relief.

At no point in the dream do I have any realisation that I am dreaming. It is as real to me as if it were truly happening. I cannot will myself to wake and stop it all.

In the same way, we cannot awake ourselves from the dream that is the urge to drink. We can listen to the people ahead of us who call back that it will be okay, keep putting one foot in front of another, but sometimes our fear and pain will paralyse us.

in which case the only solution is to wait and to give yourself that sovereign remedy, time. time to heal. time to wake of your own accord from that nightmare and see that the benefits of drinking are a mirage of the drug’s own making.

i remember being told as a child that if you fall in a dream and you hit the ground, you would die. i do not fall, in my dreams. but I could so, so easily drink when I am awake. I read recently that you are always closer to your next drink than your last one. there is always alcohol in the house, here. I am less than a minute away from my next drink, every day. except. I am not. I am the other side of the world, a universe away from my next drink. because if I take that first drink, I would hit the ground. and I would die. I would kill this new person I am becoming. I am choosing not to fall. every day.

if you are reading this on your own personal wall or cliff. please. hold on. hold on until that new person you are becoming wakes up. please keep choosing not to fall.

the world needs us.

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