Those of you who know Ashlyn have likely heard me talk about her rough nights. The irrational fears that seem to come to her at night. For her privacy that is about as far as I will go into details except to say that it’s not a new thing. Shan and I have been doing our best at 2 or 3am to be patient and understanding. We’ve also done some co-sleeping but it seems to be habit building and have found the most success with mini interventions and compromise to keep Ashlyn in her own bed and feeling safe. Sometimes she just needs someone there to tell her it’s OK and there is nothing to be scared of. “Go back to sleep…” we tell her with confidence. “There’s nothing to be scared of…” I always say.
Have good dreams my girl…
I move the hair away from her eyes as they close and kiss her on the forehead and then leave her alone in her bed to sort out the rest. Some nights she goes back to sleep right away and others I don’t even know. We hope this is allowing her the tools she needs to eventually become a good little independent sleeper. On the really bad nights it takes everything not to take her into our room and comfort her, but we don’t.
It’s hard for an adult to understand what fear even looks like for a child. I refer to Ashlyn’s fears as irrational because I don’t understand how she can be afraid of bugs that aren’t there, or a cartoon she watched on TV. I don’t know how real it all seems for her and how hard some nights must be for her to get back to sleep or remain “frozen” under the sheets.
Well last weekend, I got a little taste…
At 530am on Father’s day Shannon pulled me out of the most lucid dream I have ever had. She said I was yelling something she couldn’t make out and punching the headboard full force. She said I got about 3-4 good shots in before she woke me up. I had tears in my eyes and I remember exactly what the dream was about in great detail. Keep in mind the night before Ashlyn was in our room because of a bad dream. I only mention this because the night of my dream was just a typical evening in the Peever house, which brings me back to my point about rationale.
The dream took place in the layout of my childhood house. I think it might be the root of my early fears and it takes place there as I revisit the idea of fear as I experienced it as a child (YES I have thought about this way too much). I vividly remember two scenes: One in the kitchen and one in the upstairs bedroom. The dream became lucid in the kitchen of the old house. We are standing beside the fridge in the dark and a burnt yellow luminescence lights the room from outside the window. I’m with Shannon but between us is Jaime Rattray (a girl I used to work with years ago). More significant is that Ashlyn isn’t there. We are scared to go outside but not sure why. There is a constant hum and movement is slow motion. Jaime hugs on me for protection and Shan is close and visibly confused like we’re not sure if we should move. The feeling is familiar, like we have been here before but don’t have answers. I think Jaime might represent Lexi for some strange reason.
Jump to next part we are upstairs in my old bedroom where from the bed I am woken up by Shannon who is worried about Ashlyn. It’s dark and she’s whispering. I am looking into the Hall just as I have many times when these rooms were occupied by my sister and I. From my bed I couldn’t see into her room but I could see her doorway where the hall meets the corner of my sight line. In the dream I know the door to be Ashlyn’s. I already feel Frozen and in slow motion. The sound waves are present and dull and we are confused just like in the kitchen. In the yellow glow of hallway I can see a clothed arm with a bare hand hovering out in front of Ashlyns door. Not moving just hovering with a long skinny finger extended, like it heard us and now it hesitates. We are not supposed to see it. It almost as if we are in shock. Shan starts to panic whisper to me confirming she sees it too “OMG it’s fucking here, it’s fucking here” and she grabs me. The hand slowly recoils at our voices but not in panic but more in realization it’s been seen. I sit up in bed to get a better look and in the yellow haze of light I can see it more clearly than ever. It’s hand goes back to it’s side and it just looks at us not moving. It’s in a suit so I can’t see it’s face. Some kind of space protection suit that is camouflaged but it’s bare hands stick out long and slender suggesting something alien. The sound waves become more intense and I cant move toward it but I’m trying. It’s hand reaches once again for her doorknob and I’m yelling “don’t you fucking touch her”
I wake up punching my head board. Tears in my eyes and a feeling of helplessness is all that remains.
I know that this all sounds very contrived, especially after I have been stewing on it for over a week. I just can’t help but think it was some kind of message. Something in my subconscious wants to protect that little girl from her own brain and feels helpless in the process. I feel like it’s a message about what Ashlyn has been dealing with at night and who knows when. The dream was so vivid that if I was her age waking up alone in her room I would be the frozen she describes when she wakes up scared. Makes me feel like I at least need to go in there and let her know she is not alone. After all, it is Father’s day at 530am!