A Brief Study in Madness

Do you ever get that feeling that your dreams are there simply to remind you of who you are not? I do. Almost every night. For instance, when I dream that I am back in high school and on the verge of falling off of bleachers that turn into cliffs over top a New Zealand seascape, I know that I am A) well-past high school age, B) that I have never really had a huge fear of heights and C) I have only ever traveled to three different countries outside of the U.S., none of which was New Zealand. But then there is that suspicion that I am not unlike an insecure adolescent who fears yet another “jumping-off point” in my life. Anxiety haunts me in my waking hours as well as my slumber. OH, good.

There is this news, though: The Wedding Dress was Won. I  found it, and then some. It took about 10 minutes after posting my blog when I walked into The Oak and discovered my dress in a lacy display of Fuck Yes. I basically live-Facebook-commented with some newly-married friends as I tried on the dress clearly meant for me. One more item checked off The List.

Back to those dreams, though. I posted this on April 7th:

Last night I dreamt that I pulled out all of my teeth while I sat on a dentist’s chair. Then I sobbed and begged for this lady dentist to give me false teeth, so she did and I was dissatisfied. Then the other dentist dude refused to make my teeth real and he turned out to be a pervert. So naturally I performed on stage in the scene from The Bodyguard with no teeth.

What if our literal dreams were actual reality? It would be madness. I’d be a toothless pop star, a would-be murder victim with a deadly fear of heights, a lesbian lover with Lady Gaga and an active alcoholic who cheats on her husband. One of these is not like the other.

Lady Gaga Dreams
Photo courtesy of Arizona Foothills Magazine

In October, I will be married ::inshallah:: In one million years +, I never dreamed that could happen for me. I never dreamed it, because I never acted as if I wanted to be married. I did what it took to work this time–it will be different this time. I desperately wanted a relationship from the time I was 14/15 to my late twenties, never coming close to achieving it. Notice how I used the word “achieve.” It was something else to check off The List. I had no earthly idea what it takes to be in a loving, committed relationship. That is, if you exclude my devotion and heartache relegated only to King Alcohol. In a twisted way, drinking alcohol gave me a free pass to avoid dreaming and having nightmares–I simply passed out.

Dreaming tends to cause me heartache. For the most part, I dream about relapsing (why don’t we use “nightmare” as a verb? Like, “I nightmared about my test last night.”) Every so often, I dream of my dad. One scenario that stands out the most is when I saw him appear at the house where we grew up. He was in front of the garage puttering with some plants. He stood up to say “hi” to me, then he slowly vanished before my eyes. I woke up crying and sweating. It felt comforting to see him, but the reminder ended up costing me more than a little joy. I think I dreamt/nightmared on that one.

For me, dreaming is lying. I far prefer my associations with waking hours (when I can, at the very least, choose my own lies!). Maybe that’s why I stay true to being a night owl. But now I am sober, which means I am breathing and walking among The Living. I need sleep like the rest of us. We all know that sleep-deprivation can cause poor health, bad choices and in extreme cases, hallucinations. When I first got sober, sleep deprivation caused sleep paralysis, something you should definitely read up on (maybe when it’s light out). There is a bugged out documentary on Netflix about the phenomenon. Mine happened when I lived in my gorgeous apartment in LA that I have definitely not stopped thinking about (nether the experience nor the apartment itself, it was beautiful). I was meditating while slowly drifting off to sleep. Above my head hung the best nightlight I’ve ever had. My neighbor, Annie, gifted me with a handmade chandelier, made of woven sticks of wood, lace and twinkling lights.

chandelier LA

Beside it, ironically, was a dream catcher. I remember feeling comfort and peace as I lay in half-sleep. My eyes fluttered, then I felt something like human hands shove me. My entire body jolted forward. I tried to get up to see who was in my room, but I could not move. I lay there panting silently, trying not to make any noise. A few seconds passed, and I realized I was not dreaming, not at all. Something pushed me because I felt its hands between my shoulder blades. I then felt what I can only describe as someone’s lips press against my back. Then it started sucking in air. GROSS. I felt in that moment I might die at an intruder’s hands. For an instant, I stayed stuck. But I summoned up courage and jumped out of my bed. When I turned around, no one was there.

I later investigated this experience with my friend, Monty. He told me it might be incubus. I swore I was awake when this happened, but apparently I was only dreaming. In my life at that point, there wasn’t much difference between wake and sleep. My life was a waking nightmare and my dreams were an exhaustive necessity.

But today I feel the difference. I guess you could say that my dreams, nightmares, waking experience and ambitions don’t blur so easily these days. I don’t fear sleep because I want to wake up in the morning. I don’t fear waking because I want to be alive. I don’t fear who I lie next to because I know he’s the same man (whose name I actually know). Mostly, I don’t fear who I am, albeit she does confuse me sometimes.

In sleeping and in waking, I am me.

A dream scenario.

 

Featured Image courtesy of Anne M. Peterson

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Today’s F’in Topic: Slut-Shaming

Friday is a special day for me–let’s call it Fucking Friday. Because it’s the freakin weekend, baby–and i’m not having fun.

I couldn’t sleep last night (surprise) so I trolled the internet because that’s one of the things I do best. At the 5am golden hour, I received a text message from the guy I was supposed to be going on a date with tonight. He informed me that he had some bad allergic reaction and could not make the date. My gut reaction was to attempt a joke at my being allergic to bullshit, but I held my tongue.

He and I spent the better part of this week furiously messaging each other with “let’s get to know each other” questions, comments and jokes. We got along famously. I actually found myself excited, particularly after I re-read the article Fuck Yes or No by Mark Manson. Was my would-be date a fuck yes? Not exactly. But my willingness and desire to get to know him fell under that category for sure.

So he backs out of the date. Red flag. After this occurs, we begin to talk in depth about random things, one of them being former dating partners. This may seem too soon to some, but keep in mind he and I had talked non-stop for a week. He told his parents about me. He “showed off” my picture to co-workers and friends. We exchanged vulnerabilities in order to move the process along–at least, I did. Something clicked, though, 10 minutes into this early-morning chat. I all of a sudden began to get really honest about my past. About recovery. About where I’ve been and how I was. About my proclivity for fucking. This did not go over well. In fact, my honesty caused him to take a “pause.” He explains–over text–that I should feel “sympathy” for him to “process” this information. My exact words he processed: “The number of men I’ve had sex with would make you gasp, but I still don’t know shit about men. I said it because I have a considerably dark past and I am not ashamed of that. I did things drunk that I would never in my right mind do sober. <<silence>> I would understand if this gives you pause.” His response: “It does. I won’t pretend I’m not upset by this verbiage. I’m processing. I am more upset that you won’t let me process this.” The exchange continues with more awkward silences and gaps in conversation. He then asks if he can call me. When he does, he says that he is “Still willing to work on things–‘on us'”–that he’s “Conservative, you know. Catholic. I was raised with a certain set of principles…” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’ve bedded plenty of Catholics who would readily disagree.

To that end, it got uglier. I did not say anything mean, but I picked up what he was putting down. He did not like my sordid past. This made me furious. Then I paused (ok, I cried a little) because I felt shame. I felt ashamed that this person who thought I was “amazing” and “perfect” and “gorgeous” for my tattoos and foul mouth–this person who put me on a pedestal–did not hesitate to knock me down.

My fall from Madonna grace to low-level Whore was a quick one. It appears this man had no issue with my hotness-via-intelligence: “Good. you’re a writer, that means you’re smart.” He fell especially hard for the tattoos: “When [anonymous friend] told me you had tattoos, I said, ‘go on…'” He loved that I was in recovery, that I could be so honest. It seems he had no problem fetishizing my bad-girl-goes-good rap–that is, until it got too real.

I’m upset by this because I feel like I got trapped in a classic Fuck-22. I’m an interesting person with a past, which is what makes me that much cooler now. At the same time, I have been on the wrong side of the tracks, after all. I should be ashamed of myself. Who do I think I am? And then it hit me–this kind of shame is the biggest reason I drank.

The subtext of his responses was clear: I am a red flag. I am in recovery, so I should be recovered, right? How dare I have so many partners. I couldn’t possibly be relationship material.

The anger I feel is not directed toward him. I am the one who is the slut-shamer here. Why am I apologizing–albeit, indirectly–for my former predilections for casual sex? What do I have to be ashamed of? Even if I hadn’t been in a blackout for most of those encounters, would I still have a reason to regret any of it? Didn’t I kind of like it some of the time? Yes. Yes I did. Sure, there are some amends that will rightfully be made to those I have hurt, even in recovery. Sexual liberation does not mean I get a pass to harm anyone. Sex comes with responsibility. Responsibility, not validation.

This is a sensitive topic. I get that. But I don’t care. The media coverage for women musicians compared to men, for example, shows the parity in biased coverage. Women fall from grace; men are the martyrs.

It’s sexist and unrealistic. People are entitled to their opinions. I respect that. I also respect people like Lady Gaga who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. She doesn’t identify as a feminist, so to speak, but she is honest about sex and her own sexuality. She lets her music speak for itself. She says, “I’m not scared. I’ve got three number one records and I’ve sold almost four million records worldwide. You see, if I was a guy and I was sitting here with a cigarette in my hand grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music because I like fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. But when I do it in my music and in my videos–because I’m a female, because I make pop music–you’re judgmental and you say that it is distracting. I’m just a rock star.”

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. No apologies. No subtext. We all have opinions. And I don’t have to date opinions.

I’m just a rock star.