I’ve heard it said, “If you die in your dreams, you die in real life.” I have a hard time believing that for several reasons. The most obvious reason being, how do we know? It’s not like we can ask the person, “Now, did you die in your dream? You did? Great, you can return to your peaceful afterlife now..” All joking aside, I do wonder about it. I don’t really ever remember my dreams. Do I remember dying in a dream? Well, no, but i don’t even remember what I dreamed last night.
Dreams are a strange phenomenon. Psychologists say dreams are just our minds trying to makes sense of a bunch of pictures and images running through our minds as we transfer memories from short term to long term. Though, I guess that could make sense, I sometimes feel my dreams are telling a story based off of real experience. I also know that after the movie Inception hit the theaters, the amount of people claiming they have tried and experienced lucid dreaming increased. I have never had a lucid dream, but sometimes, right as I’m nearing the time I wake up, I feel as if I’m in a state of half consciousness with my dream fading out into reality. In those moments, I can control my real thoughts as if I were alive in my dream. Another thing I wonder about is visions. In the Bible, we can read how God communicated to people through visions and dreams. Maybe there is more to understanding dreams than meets the eye.
So if those are dreams, what is a nightmare. Now, if dreams are just our brains trying to make sense of random thought, then most nightmares make sense. I think a nightmare would be thoughts put together as our fears are being sorted -even fears we may not be aware of- however, sometimes, when I have nightmares, I relive a memory that happened in real life. These are called flashbacks. Though they are scary while awake, when dreaming, a flashback turns my reality back in time to a horrible event. It feels so real. It is not until I wake up screaming and crying that I realize that was just a dream. Flashbacks do something to me, though. They bring into the present- things I have so hard tried to leave in the past. They bring to consciousness- memories I have worked so very hard to forget. And while, it was just a dream, I had to relive my trauma and go on the next day as if nothing happened. Why? Well, because in reality nothing did happen, I only dreamed it did. In my head though, I sometimes walk around trying to forget the very trauma people think I have worked through. It’s hard and it hurts, physically and mentally.
I’m the girl that cries in her dreams. No, I don’t cry all the time. Since I started medication to help stop the nightmares and flashbacks it happens so rarely, I don’t have to worry about it at all. Yet, still, I’m the girl that cries in her dreams. I’m the girl that has to relive past traumas over and over again and act as if I’m okay.
So if we could speak to the dead and asked if they died in their dreams, I’m not sure what they would say. That is something we really have no control over. Something we do have control over? How we treat survivors, even long after trauma has taken place. The internal pain trauma can cause stretches far past the incident, the year, the court cases, the medication, the therapy, etc.
This week, as I read another news article of a young man convicted of raping two girls walking away with only two year perol and no jail time, I have to ask myself, do people understand what traumas like rape does to it’s victims? The judge in this case said something similar to the Stanford case judge in the fact that he’s a young man and jail time would affect his future. How naive does one have to be to believe those rape victims future is not affected? Sure, they can still attend college, but maybe drop because they are too depressed to function. Maybe one even decides to take her own life because she can’t stand the flashbacks and nightmares any longer. Yes, jail time will affect this rapists future, but I can almost guarantee it will affect him far less than the amount of what he did to his victim will affect them. Only 35% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported. The number of rapes and sexual assaults that make it to court or bring justice for the victims is significantly less. On top of being told we are liars, rape victims also have to deal with judges who are bias towards the rapist. We have to deal with the fear he’ll get off scoth free and will come after us for his revenge. We even have to worry that even if he IS convicted of his crimes, he will walk a free man because his future matters so much more than mine.
I want justice. I want people to be mad about this. I want people that know me to remember why I was to afraid to pursue my attackers. I want this world to be a place where people don’t have to be afraid to report a crime.
So yeah, I cry in my sleep, and so do MANY others.. So don’t just sit there and keep dreaming your peaceful dreams, because we live in a nightmare. Stand up and help me change it.