Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Sleep has all but deserted me these days and even when it comes it is spasmodic and punctuated by nightmares.

The masochistic element of my mind has once again taken to its duties as my own personal torturer with a zeal. Chief among the tools of its trade is sleep paralysis. After a break of several months, these terrifying episodes have slowly crept back in to torment me.

It is as if, suddenly and without any warning, a part of my conscious mind breaks the surface of the murky waters that have so far shrouded it in sleep and is again aware. Aware of the position of my body; of the feel of the sheets against my skin; of the give of the mattress beneath me. Aware, in sum, of all the things that you might know if you were lying on your bed awake but with your eyes closed. Yet still, the rest of my mind sleeps on and I cannot move. I slowly mounting feeling of panic rises in whatever part of me is aware as it, and I, struggle to move a body that feels like it is floating in treacle. I cannot move. I feel my heart beating faster and harder in a chest constricted by the grip of fear. I cannot move. And yet I must move; for there is someone or something in the room. I do not know what this thing is – I cannot see it – but I feel its approach all the same. The mattress bends and gives under the weight of its body as it crawls up onto the bed. I strain to cry out: no sound but perhaps muted and pathetic whimper escapes my throat. I struggle to pull myself up from the bed: still I cannot break free from the viscous air that smothers me. The terror becomes overwhelming as the thing’s progress towards me is mapped out in the shifting imprints of its weight on the mattress. It is so close now. Almost over me. Bearing down. My heart feels like it might burst, my limbs tense with mental effort, and my throat tightens with the scream I cannot emit. Suddenly there is give: the treacle evaporates, the constricting bands of fear around my chest break, my body lurches up, my eyes spring open…I am awake and only the pounding of my heart remains.

This may happen several times in one night. Sometimes there are voices too: children laughing or just the insistent sound of my name repeated slowly again and again. I do not know why they happen and I cannot stop them.

Last night I dreamt I was in a tin bath full of the putrid and filthy water. From the bath I can see into two other rooms. In one, I see my family sitting on a white sofa facing away from me. Around them, like a court jester, cart-wheeling and dancing, is the Australian with all his hair shaved off. The more I stare at him the more he seems to be two people at once. The Australian and my first ever boyfriend rolled up in one. I can feel the happiness they radiate and hear their riotous laughter echoing about. After a little while I turn to the other room where enormous, snorting, wild-eyed horses rear up at each other as if in the throes of brain fever. These are truly gargantuan beasts and watching them thrash and crash about the room fills me with fear. I decide to get out of the bath. I pull the plug and the water drains away slowly to reveal that I have been sharing my bath with a joint of raw meat. I sit naked and stare at it impassively. The dream ends.

I mean what on Earth is that all about? Any budding Freuds want to give it a go?


Blogger Kate said...

Wow. Evocative.

How do you experience something like that on a semi-regular basis without having serious lasting psychological effects?

My sleep is mostly 'dreamless', but after hearing this, I'm pretty glad about that.

8:14 pm  
Blogger Shiny Happy Person said...

Not a fucking clue, mate, but well-written. It sounds like something out of a Cronenburg movie. Must be vile.

I get sleep paralysis occasionally, when I'm stressed out, and it is terrifying. I feel for you. Look after yourself.

12:36 pm  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Hi Kate, it did actually really scare me the first few times it happened. The weird thing is that when it happens now there is a part of me that knows that it's just a kind of dream even as it is happening. I still find it pretty unpleasant, all the same.

7:41 am  
Blogger Note said...

Sleep paralysis only sinks its teeth into me when I am personally desolate in some way: emotionally rudderless or utterly stressed. It usually gets me trapped in a prism between the dreaming world and the waking, being stalked by invisible entities.

Fun, fun, fun!

I should also mention that whenever I'm trying to ignore something of vast personal significance, it opens its fanged maw.

11:40 am  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Fanged maw, you say. Interesting.

Speaking of ma(w)s, my mother would support you in your conviction that it results from some inner turmoil. Indeed, this was also her diagnosis in the case of the alopecia I suffered when I was younger. As for myself, I think not, not least of all because, in my case at least, there is no identifiable inner turmoil. It's just one of those quirks of life - an aetiological mystery.

9:22 am  
Blogger Note said...

Then again, it could be spiritual in origin.

Have you consulted a priest?

Or a witch-doctor?

When's the last time you shook a rattle over chicken entrials, really?

1:35 pm  
Blogger Dazed & Confused said...

did Alf show up? in which case it's nothing

12:57 am  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Note - I live with a witch-doctor (or as he prefers to style himself: a psychiatrist) and he's been no use so I suppose I'll have to opt for the priest. Perhaps the good Pope RatsFinger will come and rid me of my demons?

D&C- Alf? Eh?

4:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, searching c-space for the term oneiromancy brings me here, after not too much trouble. I must say both your dream and your writing style are very... imbued? Having worked in the aforementioned 'field' for a number of years, I would be most interested to hear more... feel free to contact me at your leisure.

6:49 am  

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