Day 256: Worst nightmares (Friday the 13th)

Today is Friday the 13th.



So it’s time for …..

Random Thoughts about Worst Nightmares


When I woke up this morning, I felt cold.

Here’s the data on the recent weather in these parts: the temperature was in the 70’s on Monday, the 80’s on Tuesday, the 90’s on Wednesday, the 80’s yesterday, and (let me check) it’s going to be in the 70’s today.

When I’m in a therapy session — individual or group — people often hesitate to name their worst nightmares. They express a fear that if they share those, they will upset or alienate other people in the room. Often, when people describe an old nightmare, it’s part of the process of letting go of that.

When somebody is feeling bad, often a helpful question is: “What’s your worst nightmare right now?” (Also known as, “What’s the worst that could happen?”) When people allow themselves to express their worst fear, they often realize that dreaded future occurrence is unlikely. And, even if the worst fear is a distinct possibility, people usually realize they have survived worse.

In a previous blog post, I described a worst nightmare I used to have. In that recurring dream, I’d be trying to call somebody on the phone. Because of problems with my vision (and other obstacles), I could not reach the person by phone, no matter how I tried.

Here’s a nightmare I’ve only had once.

When I was a little girl, I had to have several surgeries, to implant cardiac pacemakers .

Before this particular surgery, my father, the nurses, and I had prepared a joke for the surgeons. It must have been the fall or early winter, because this was the joke: The nurses and I had put a sign on my body that said, “Do Not Open Until Christmas.”

The surgeon, in a very surgeon-like way, said, “Very funny,” when he saw the sign, and took it off my body.

Then, as usual, the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face

Somebody said, “Count backwards from 100.”

And I started to count.

I looked up at the doctors, wearing their own masks, looking down at me.

As I was looking up at them, that image started to change.

It reminded me of getting closer and closer to a photo in a newspaper, or an image on a television set.

Sort of like this:


It was more like a black-and-white image, though. And as I kept staring at it, the dots that made up that image got bigger and bigger.

Finally, I fell into one big, black dot.

And everything was black.

And I heard a voice. It wasn’t a nice voice. It was a cold, unfriendly voice.

It did not wish me well.

It said this:

That person you were before — the one that was joking with the doctors — is not real. This is the only thing that is real. And you will always come back to this.

Then, thank goodness, I woke up.

It was only a dream.

Sometimes, that’s the way a story ends.

Like here:



And like here, today.

Thanks for being there, dear readers.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Day 256: Worst nightmares (Friday the 13th)

  1. Good post Ann. I enjoyed it, and the photos enhanced it tremendously. Here is my question to you. What about nightmares where the person hasn’t survived worse? What about nightmares where the likelihood is high indeed and the nightmare is a way of bringing to conscious attention radical changes in circumstance that are likely but not certain? I’m curious about your response to such dreams, sleeping or waking.

    • Thanks for reading and for commenting, Marc. Good questions, and — of course — people do have nightmares where they haven’t survived worse … and so have I.

      You’re asking about my personal (rather than professional) response to those sleeping and waking dreams? I guess my response is similar to how I respond to anything that comes in through my senses. If possible, I try to be present and open to it, so I can learn from the richness of it. Nightmares are frightening, which can cause me to be hyper-vigilant, focusing more on danger (with the natural wish to freeze or flee) than on possibilities and opportunities for growth or action. So I try to overcome that hyper-vigilance during times of nightmares. This blog, actually, has become one of my tools for doing that, and it’s quite effective.

      I’m not sure if I’ve answered your questions the way they were intended. You can let me know.

      • Great answers Ann. I was interested in your personal perspective. When I feel danger that isn’t an imminent physical threat, I invite it in, offer it a cup of tea and ask it what it has to tell me. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  2. Pingback: Day 265: Fear, math, and DEROSNEC | The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally

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