There was a Val Kilmer movie in the mid-90s called The Ghost and the Darkness about some man-eating lions in Kenya in the 19th century. I loved that movie, probably because I thought it was cool that the movie’s stars—the lions—are in the Chicago Field Museum. I look forward to seeing these dumb stuffed lions every time I go to the museum; even as a kid, long before the movie, a trip to Chicago meant going to see these creatures.
Well, my current home is plagued with ghosts when all of the lights are shut off for the night. And it is seriously, uncool. There are no lions, but there might as well be a whole pride of them living here. Hope has started having bad dreams, she’s refusing to go to sleep until just a couple of hours before she gets up. She’s freaked out about all kinds of things around the house. Yesterday we went to Walmart to buy night lights and a clear shower curtain to help her feel safe. Meanwhile I was on EBay stocking up on sleep masks because I have issues with light sensitivity at night. #Ihatenightlights
Suddenly, she is consumed by fear, and it just bubbled up unannounced. She’s dreaming about people who hurt her. She’s dreaming about people she doesn’t know possibly hurting her. She freaks out if I walk Yappy after 10pm for a quick No. 1. When the sun goes down, the fraidy cat comes out.
I know that we are beginning to really wrestle with some of the hardest memories. We’ve managed the bug phobia, but new fears are emerging all the time. Sleep disturbances abound. It’s tough to experience as a kid and as a mom to this kid.
I’m glad she told me—incidentally, my new mood decoder ring-thingamajig is one of these:
Very helpful and I can usually get to the bottom of things a lot sooner.
I’m sure all of this stuff has always been there and that this probably some way of us making painful progress, but oy, this sucks. I feel like there’s not much I can do to make her feel safe.
I bought all the things she asked for to help her so far. I make a point of letting her know when I’m retiring for the night so she can turn on or off lights in the main areas to make her comfortable. I make a big to do about locking the front door and making sure that the balcony door is locked; even though it’s 30 degrees out and I don’t think anyone is going to break in via balcony 8 floors up. I let her know that I’ll check on her in the middle of the night. I wake her up in the morning and make sure she is ok.
I’m hoping that time will bring Hope some peace and push off the ghosts that plague her in the darkness. I’m hoping that I can just walk alongside her into the light, step by step over the next few months.
January 5th, 2016 at 10:53 am
You may not feel like you’re doing much to help her but you are. This is probably the first time Hope has ever had someone who could comfort her from her bad dreams and try to help her feel safer. She is now probably unleashing all the bad dreams of an entire childhood, because she finally has what every child with bad dreams needs, a parent to tell her she is safe and it will be all right. I know it’s so, so hard to see your child afraid and not be able to make it better. But you are doing so much more than you realize.
January 6th, 2016 at 9:56 pm
I agree with this.
I feared so, so many things in my youth, and justifiably.
But what I remember now? What I remember now is my mom walking through all those fears with me.
Right now, you are walking with her. And someday, no matter what she thinks or knows now, someday what she will remember is you walking with her.
January 6th, 2016 at 4:00 pm
I agree with Beth, above.
While bad dreams or nightmares are a normal childhood experiences, this is also a way to experience fear or trauma that the child may have not been able to experience or share or if they did, they were not validated or comforted. I had very bad nightmares and it was the same one usually. It would give me sleep paralysis which is very scary. An evil person was after me always. My mother, step father or family often made fun of me and took it all as a joke. I know now I was suppressing inner fears, trauma and negative experiences. I was silenced in real life but in my dream, all my fears came roaring out which can be scary. Much later in life, I met a woman who became like a mother to me. I told her about my dreams and over the years, she learned about my childhood experiences. I lived with her for a few months and she said I would scream in my dreams and she would come into my room and wake me up and comfort me, something that my parents or family never did. She eventually tought me how to confront the demon or bad memories in my dream. She also told me I could just wake up when the dream gets too scary. I thought she was crazy. How do I control myself in a dream and how does a person wake themselves up when they are sleeping and dreaming. She had me tell myself before I went to sleep that I would wake myself up when the dream got too scary. Well, sure enough, within a few days, I had the dream and I confronted the scary figure in my dream and woke myself up. Nowadays, I can almost always wake myself just before the point it gets too scary. It wierd and empowering.
My son also had scary dreams growing up. And he wanted to sleep with the light on or TV on. And I usually let him and then would go in later and turn the light off. He also would climb in bed with me sometimes when he got really scared and I allowed him to do so. He would tell me in detail his whole dream and I would validate to him that it was scary and I would have been scared too.
All a part of growing pains. Some normal stuff mixed with some memories that Hope needs to process and sort through. Just let her know that you support her journey and allow her to tell you about her dream. Sharing and releasing these emotions and memories will help her on her journey.
January 8th, 2016 at 10:09 pm
God bless you two ♡
January 8th, 2016 at 10:11 pm
So good to hear from you!!!!!!