I woke up in a surprisingly good mood today, considering I’d had a nightmare. Probably something to do with switching from run and hide tactics to stand and fight. And holding my own. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
When I was a kid, I was terrified of dogs. I’m mostly over it by now (unless they’re barking or growling, my reaction to dogs these days is usually “awww cute” instead of “eek! a dog!”), but a rather high percentage of the nightmares I have still feature dogs. I can think of two off the top of my head that were just normal random dreams until I saw a dog, which lunged at and/or bit me, and I woke up right after, still freaking out. (One of the dogs was a hellhound. I knew this because it was painted red. Heh, dream logic…) Today’s dream was a lot more drawn out than that.
I was in the backyard, seducing some cats. I think I made friends with a dog, too. Another dog comes along, though, and it is not the friendly type. I retreat towards the garage door, and when it gets close I shoot it (weird dream stuff–I have no idea where I got a gun, or what happened to it after I used it), but the dog’s still coming after me. I only succeeded in making it angry. I manage to close the door before it reaches me. It tries to push through, but I lock the door, too. I’m not sure how long it will hold though, so I go into the house to find a better hiding place. Of course, all of the rooms have windows. I end up deciding to hide in the bathroom, because it has the smallest and highest window. Then, after I lock the door, I notice that the glass pane is missing from the window. I freak out and retreat further into the house, trying to figure out where I can hide. The dog gets in, somehow, but I manage to bash its skull in with a sauce pan, hitting hard and repeatedly until I’m sure its dead. There’s blood everywhere. I wash it off me, but I’m sure the other dogs can still smell it, and they won’t like what I’ve done.
Sure enough, another dog attacks me later, when I’m in the backyard again. I decide to fight this one without weapons. Maybe I’ll avoid the same mistake I made with the gun. I put up my fists and wait for it to come. It lunges at me and bites my left arm and holds on (more dream weirdness–it doesn’t hurt, although I know it’s possible to feel pain in a dream, because it’s happened to me before), but I beat the dog with my free right arm. It decides to leave after that.
So, I’m not a big fan of violence and fighting, but, in the immortal words of Malcolm Reynolds, “Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill ’em right back!” It felt really good fighting those damn nightmare dogs instead of just running away or being attacked, like usual. I felt all sorts of empowered and strong. Yea, I’m a badass. Don’t mess with me, nightmare dogs, I’ve got a mighty sauce pan!
Speaking of scary dream stuff, I had a more scary than usual sleep paralysis experience the other day. The usual level of scariness of sleep paralysis is pretty low for me, though, since I’m so used to it by now, and I don’t usually hallucinate things that are all that creepy while it’s happening. I was drifting in and out, between sleep paralysis and groggy wakefullness, trying not to move too much when I did seem to be awake, since I was hoping for a lucid dream. It’s really hard to tell when I’m properly awake or not when it’s like that, and it’s supremely difficult to use my favorite reality checks, which involve being able to move, while paralyzed.
So, I saw a bird flying in my room. It was just a harmless sparrow, and I’m not at all afraid of birds, but I couldn’t move, and I wasn’t sure if I was awake or not–if I was seeing things that were really there or not. It landed near me on the bed, and I was freaking out, trying to move with no success. Then I saw it sorta go through part of the blanket, and I think that’s about when I figured out it wasn’t real, since when I’m awake, multiple objects tend not to be able to occupy the same space at the same time.
Sometimes I wonder. It’s this hard to figure out when I’m awake or not when I’ve got loads of experience with sleep paralysis. My first sleep paralysis experience was long before I figured out what it was or that there’s a name for it or that it’s harmless and even normal. If during my first experience I had hallucinated little grey aliens instead of a giant spider, if I’d seen something such that it would have been no more weird to see run away away and disappear through a wall (after actually waking up) than to see it in the first place, I wonder if I would be an alien abduction believer? I mean, the most obvious explanation for a spider disappearing through a wall is that there isn’t really a spider there, or that it didn’t really disappear through a wall. But with little grey aliens, there is another obvious explanation, which is that they just have some really amazing technology (which would be kind of necessary for them to be there in the first place). I mean, the thing that made me certain that I didn’t really see a giant spider in my bedroom was that it couldn’t have run away through the wall. If I’d seen aliens, the only reason to think they weren’t real (in absence of knowledge about sleep paralysis and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations) would be that they were aliens, and, frankly, we can’t know yet that aliens don’t exist.
I guess I’m just saying that I can kind of relate to people who have experienced weird stuff and interpreted it as proof of some manner of woo that skeptics scoff at (even though I am a skeptic), because I have experienced, and still do experience, a lot of weird stuff sometimes. I mean, it’s unreasonable to stick to such woo when presented with all sorts of evidence to the contrary, but I can understand how someone would believe the woo in the first place, if they’d had just the right (or wrong) sort of experience.