To sleep, perchance to dream


The fact that I’m up at 12:45 a.m. and have only been asleep for a few hours makes me hope that this is just an interlude to my sleep and that I’m not up for the day already. I had a post in my head when my dogs needed to be let outside, so I decided to not try to go back to sleep yet and instead hope that the efforts of creativity induce sleepiness.

You see, I’ve already been dreaming, and it’s been stressful. I can’t have nice relaxing dreams about floating on the lake or listening to the waves of the ocean crash gently against the shore. Instead I have to create dreams where even non-stressful events become anxiety-producing productions.

This morning (last night?) it was shopping at the thrift store, or “thrifting” as the cool kids call it. (The cool kids being my 22-year-old and his friends, not really me. I just call it “shopping.”) Yes, even “thrifting,” which is normally relaxing and fun for me, becomes an ordeal bordering on nightmarish in my dreams.

So I was at some local thrift store. I have to say it was pretty nice. More like a Stuff Etc. and less like a Goodwill Outlet. I wasn’t digging through bins like I may have been known to do Pre-Covid. (Suddenly the practice of digging through bins of people’s crap just all thrown together, shoulder to shoulder with other people who are also digging through said crap, doesn’t hold quite the same appeal.) I was shopping in a well-organized store, but instead of being fun and relaxing, it was stressful and just plain weird.

For one thing, as happens often in my anxiety-riddled dreams, I could only see about 1 inch in front of my face. This makes it super convenient when shopping, driving, or pretty much doing anything that requires eyeballs. So I kept squinting and trying to readjust my eyes to see what I was shopping for.

I had a whole cart full of items picked out, some to try on, some to potentially purchase.

And that’s when I heard a voice coming not from the thrift store, but from reality. Because Husband likes to do this to me sometimes. Mind you, I’m dead asleep and dreaming.

“Where’s Otto’s collar and why did someone take it off him? I need to take him outside!”

So suddenly it’s like the intercom in the store is asking me this question instead of Husband. It’s loud, and I’m instantly confused, disoriented and downright dumb. As in, I can’t talk. 

And Husband, bless his heart, does not seem to have the patience to wait for me to become coherent as he asks me again–I think anyway, considering I WAS DEAD ASLEEP.

So I start talking. Or I should say I try to start talking. Because I’m pretty sure it came out as gibberish.

This made Husband even grumpier. Which, hello? Who should be the grumpy one here? The one who is trying to figure out where in the real world she is and who she is and if she even has a husband and a dog and how words are formed and how to get thoughts to travel from your brain to your mouth and how to get your mouth to form real words and not grunts–OR the one who just woke up that person by barking a question at her?

I think we both know the answer to that.

Somehow I manage to use all my might, all the energy stored up inside me, and remember that the collar is on the coffee table and to get my mouth to utter those words in something that doesn’t sound like “Umgrupogh pahuuhh mmmmmmmguhhhhrumph.”

And Husband proceeds to take out Otto, leaving me in this limbo between asleep and awake. I manage to slip back into the dream and now it’s even more stressful. Someone has taken the brown sheet set that I had set aside. (Thanks a lot, Husband!) The store worker, who is an acquaintance of mine from Facebook who I won’t name here but surely does NOT work in a thrift store in real life, tells me I’m just too late. I try to console myself, saying there will be other used brown sheet sets in the future, but I’m not sure I really believe it. I grieve and think about what could’ve been with those sweet sheets.

And then I proceed to try to find all of the other great finds I had in my cart before I was interrupted, and they have all been set back out on the showroom floor. (I don’t think it’s probably called a showroom at a thrift store, but I like the sound of it. Like there are brand new cars inside with the doors open that you can sit in and pretend you can actually afford a car that’s parked inside a showroom.)

I had a suit, I know. I look for that. Why I had a suit, I’m not sure. I can’t tell you the last time I wore a suit. But apparently, I felt I really needed this particular suit. I finally found it and then managed to drop it in what was like a floor grate in the middle of the store. Why this grate was there, I’m not sure, but I was determined to rescue this suit. So I crawled in this little crawlspace and saw the suit, along with many other clothing and thrift items that had been dropped through the bars of the grate over time, leaving a kind of thrift graveyard, complete with dirt and cobwebs and a huge spider that was crawling on the suit. I opted then to leave the suit. It just wasn’t meant to be.

All the time the salesperson was telling me if I had only paid better attention to the items in my cart, I wouldn’t be going home empty-handed. Basically, I sucked a thrift shopping and didn’t deserve any of the amazing bargains that had graced my cart because I didn’t fully appreciate them by keeping track of them better.

I kept trying to tell myself it was okay. I really didn’t need any of that stuff. But I didn’t believe myself. I felt guilty. I felt sad.I felt angry.

I’m sure if someone smarter than I am were to analyze this dream–and all the others that are similar that I seem to have on a nightly basis–they would find some deep, underlying meaning to it. The lack of control, the guilt from messing up…the need to shop at a thrift store in the first place.

I’m tired of dreaming, because my dreams are never sweet. They take things I enjoy and make them stressful. They tell me I’m not good enough and don’t do things right. They mock me when they are supposed to be comforting and pleasant.

So I guess I’m going to try to go back to sleep, but let’s hope it’s not to dream.

I’m not sure my heart could take losing out on a set of used brown sheets twice in one night.

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