I’ve been having the same dream every night for the past 6 months. The problem is, it’s not my dream. I’m not always physically in it but at the same time I’m everywhere, watching it all happen, knowing all the actors, and feeling like I’m walking through someone else’s memories.
The dream always starts exactly the same. I’m looking outside of a window but it’s too bright to make out the location. As I start to look closer, I can finally see trees; green and verdant, the stalwart sentries of nature. One by one they drift by me like pages of your favorite book. I begin to realize that I’m moving. Not my physical person, but I’m on some kind of bus traveling towards a destination.
Then the fear begins setting in. I don’t know where I’m going. This valley is stretching on forever amidst entire legions of trees. I start sinking in deeper and deeper into myself. When I feel utterly hopeless, I close my eyes.
That’s the first part of the dream. Usually I wake up after that in a cold sweat. It’s like a virtual reality simulation that I’m stuck in every time I go to sleep. Exercise hasn’t helped. I could run my body into the ground but I’m always back on that bus every night. No one believes me. My friends think I’m joking. My parents think I’m doing drugs.
After the first month of having the dream over and over, I decided to try seeing a therapist. I’ll never forget their expression as I regaled every detail. I don’t think my therapist took it very seriously either, and asked questions that have nothing to do with my problem.
Talking about the dream in therapy only made the dreams more intense. Every time things got bad, I would close my eyes and just wake up. I knew that to break the pattern, I needed to do something different. But I had no idea how to get myself to do that in the dream. I became obsessed with it, thinking about it during my commute, in my classes, at work, before I would fall asleep.
Then a few weeks into the second month, it finally happened.
I was on the bus and it was moving at full speed. The road was bumpy and we were going so fast I thought parts of me were being left behind and that I would disappear. I wanted badly to close my eyes and be safe again, but I remembered that I also wanted to stay to see what would happen. I felt around my waist and realized I didn’t have my seatbelt fastened. I looked down to find the buckle, distracted for a second from the fact that the bus had picked up speed.
I finally found the buckle. Click. That’s when the bus crashed.