There was a long period of time when I stopped dreaming.
I’m not sure when it began, but it was shortly after I stopped the crazy travel schedule I used to keep. Once I had settled into my place in Toronto, I had assumed that I would sleep better, that my dreams would be more vivid because of the REM cycles I would get to enjoy.
Instead, I stopped dreaming. I woke up every morning with no recollection of my nighttime adventures. I was rested — perhaps I was sleeping well but something was wrong with my memory — but I was not invigorated by the scenes that would normally play out in my head in the middle of the night.
Then, I met her.
The first day I remembered my dreams, after months of not having any dreams at all, was the night after I met her in the coffee shop, wearing her sailor-striped outfit that made my heart flutter. That night, I dreamt of adventures on the sea and sunshine; I woke up excited to face the next day, and excited to send her a message to say hi.
I remember that night because it was so striking to me, that I could still dream after going without them for so long. I didn’t know then that I would fall in love with her, that we would become so close, that she would end up destroying me and causing me more pain that I know to deal with. All I knew at that time was that I was dreaming again, and that I had made a new friend.
These past two months, my dreams have turned into nightmares.
The longest I have slept in any night since January 28 of this year has been two hours. I am unable to function, focus, concentrate, or even interact socially because of my lack of sleep (and other things). It’s not that my body isn’t tired and doesn’t want to doze off — I am more exhausted than I ever have been — but instead it is because every time I close my eyes, my thoughts are plagued with nightmares that shake me awake.
Nightmares come in many types, but mine are all the same: they are bright, vivid scenes of her, either with him or just the two of us alone. In each one, she tells me that she does not love me, or says something to me that makes me feel inadequate, like she did many times when I was awake. Each time, I wake up unable to breathe, gasping for air, shaking and trembling and crying. It takes me almost an hour to compose myself, to tell myself that I’ll be okay, to work up the courage to attempt to close my eyes again.
And then I do. I close my eyes and it all happens again. Every second of my night is spent reliving the fact that she doesn’t love me, never really did, and that she has forgotten me, erased me.
Despite all that, I’d much rather see it in my nightmares than feel it with my every waking moment. Sadly, it’s being awake that’s the biggest nightmare of all, right now.