Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Education

This week I’ve been reading William S Burroughs My Education, a book that he wrote over several years about his dreams. Burroughs has always impressed me as a writer for his ability to write about his truth, something I hope to be able to do someday, but it is a difficult thing to do. It means breaking down walls in your mind and exposing yourself for what you are, thus leaving yourself open to inevitable judgment of anyone who may have the ill luck of reading the result.

I am getting less and less sleep every night, and the sleep I have been getting has not been the wonderful, refreshing sleep of good times. While reading this and feeling the stress that has been slowly mounting over the past couple weeks made me realize that my nights have begun to be filled with a familiar series of stress and sad related dreams. I think that reoccurring dreams are common in the human mind, but I think they’re all difficult to describe and that part of the reason they are reoccurring is the due to their confusing nature. It has been a roller coaster of emotions since I’ve been here; every time I start to get comfortable and relax I hit another downward turn. I know very little about dreams in general, but part of me hopes that by getting them out in the open, maybe I will be haunted by them less. A good book will make you think. A good book will make you cry. A good book will spark an emotional response; sometimes it will be with you when you’re away from its pages. If these books didn't exist, then we have wasted our evolution of opposable thumbs and that extra two percent of brain power that separate us from apes and boy bands. In no particular order, I present to you, the judging reader – My Education.

I am crying out as loud as I can, but my voice is barely audible. I don't know why I’m crying, but it takes over my body with uncontrollable shaking. I feel like if I could just make someone hear it, I would be able to be free of the pain of crying. I’m trying cry out for help because my heavy sobs are suffocating me. My forehead is sweating and my hands are cold. I’m suffocating and dying because I cannot breathe. At times, I am not myself, I actually see myself in my dream, gazing at something but I can never see what I’m staring at, then I’m back inside my body trying to clear the tears from my eyes long enough to focus on something in front of me, but it doesn't matter what it is because I feel that just being able to speak will cure my searing tears.

I am trying to run to something, trying to catch something. My legs and arms weigh too much for me to actually run, but are light enough that I can walk with some definite struggling. I get close, but I cannot raise my arms fast enough to catch it. I don't know what I’m reaching for, it’s very dark and everything is silent. Most of the time I’m outside but I can only feel the ground, there is no wind or sky buy my heavy legs make large indentations in the soft forest floor. My feet get tangled, but my legs are heavy enough to break out of the twisted vines and unknown plants that attempt to slow me.

I am tired and out of breath. I must hide and be quiet because there is something or someone trying to get me. Who or what, I cannot tell, it is silent, but I can feel it moving and getting close to me. I am out of breath from running and hiding and I feel that I cannot stay quiet enough stay concealed. This forces me from my hiding place to another hiding place. I must run as fast as I can and hope to get far enough ahead to give me a chance to ease my breathing, but it never happens. I have no problem out running the Unknown, but I feel like I cannot even let it see me or something bad will happen, or that I am scared to see what it really is. There is no escape, I can only run and hide, complete escape is not an option. My breath is loud as a jackhammer in my ears and I cannot stop it, I try to hold my breath, but that only makes it worse, like the hiss of a deflating inner tube. I am unable to get away long enough to find any relief from my relentless pursuer or my heavy breathing. My lack of control over my body will be my final demise and it will lead my relentless pursuer to me. There is no escape.

Similar dream, but I am not running or out of breath. The same pursuer is after me, however I have succeeded in finding a secure hiding place, the problem is that I must stay perfectly still. I sit this way for hours on end; I can feel the Unknown pacing around outside, just waiting for me to move, to fail. He cannot hear me, but can see any movement I make. My muscles begin to atrophy, there is no winning this battle, there is no way to end this, I cannot overpower it, I cannot out run it this time, I have an itch on my face. The itch builds and builds into a stinging pain, like a nail is being driven through my head. If I do not scratch it and release the pain, I will scream or vomit. Every minute for what feels like hours I move my arm a fraction of an inch towards my face, each movement nearly takes my breath away and I am forced to stop my heart in exchange for the slight hand movement, so I can no longer breath. The pain has overtaken my fear and I know that without this pain, I will be able to face my fear. I always wake before getting to the itch, the pain on my face. In the morning, my muscles are tightened into knots all over my legs and arms, my sheets are soaked with sweat and I know I will be sore for the whole day.

I am more tired than I have ever been in my life. However, I cannot shut my eyes. I know that something bad will happen if I shut my eyes. It takes all of my strength and concentration to keep my heavy eyelids from dropping. I know if I shut my eyes, I will be overtaken by something that will cause ruin, pain, death, something unknown. My eyes begin to see flashes and streaks of white caused by the extreme concentration put into keeping them open. I begin to see things and it feels that the Unknown is beginning to overtake me despite my eyes. How can I think about keeping my eyes open when I am sleeping with my eyes closed? I have a feeling that my eyes are open during this dream and the things that I see are real reflections of light from my room.

I feel unparalleled sadness; sometimes I know the source of the pain, other times I do not know. The pain and sadness often reflects me dealing with the death of a family member and the regret that comes with feeling like I let them die without telling them how much they mean to me. Other times the sadness is centered in my feeling guilty or angry for being forced to hurt someone physically or emotionally. These dreams I wake up crying uncontrollably. Some of these dreams will affect me for the entire day. The realism is definite and the pain is real.

Several of my nightmares are rehashing bad things I’ve done in my life. I’ve had several dishonest moments in my life and I pay for my sins in the form of painful nightmares where my world is crashing down because of the disappointment of the people I’ve been dishonest to.

The truth shall set you free. I haven’t killed anyone or stolen a car in my life, but my sins are equally painful in my mind and my guilt is real. To all those I’ve wronged, whether you know it or not, rest easy, for I am punished for my actions and non-confrontational cowardice every night and every morning the skin around my eyes becomes looser and the lines on my hands become deeper from sleeping with clenched fists.

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