Kim and I discuss some of our experiences with lucid dreaming and share some tips that might help you. I share my struggle with nightmares in the past and a revelation in therapy that gave me insight into a reoccurring theme.
Tw/Cw: PTSD, trauma, substances, nightmares, death, decay, brief mention of psych ward
I knocked down the walls like, flat on the ground and then they disappeared into the grass. The floor beneath me disappeared, the furniture disappeared, and I was just in a big, open, grassy meadow. It was beautiful.
00:12 *Intro music by Ramshackle Glory*
Hi, thank you so much for joining me. I’m Hecate and this is Finding OK, a healing podcast for survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
00:36 *sound of a loon calling on a lake with crickets chirping at night*
Trigger and content warnings for today’s episode include the following: PTSD, trauma, substances, nightmares, death, decay, and a brief mention of a past stay in a psych ward. Please check in with yourself and make sure you’re all right to continue.
I managed some lucid dreaming earlier
Uh, which, it’s the first time it’s happened in a while. But I was having a nightmare…
*gasp of interest* Do you mind sharing?
Uh, yeah! It wasn’t anything big but um, it was kind of like a cognitive triumph for myself. It especially makes a big difference if you struggle with nightmares, if you have PTSD, if you’re listening like, working on lucid dreaming it’s a really great thing to do even if you never get exactly to ultimate control over your dreams just that next level of consciousness and awareness really helps with nightmares and navigating them. But I was just having a nightmare about my dog being out off leash and getting away from me in like a misty field or something and I saw her, I was calling and I was like, “Why isn’t she coming?”. And I, as I was looking at her, away from me, not paying attention, not coming back I just like felt…the moment and I was like, “I don’t feel the way I should feel…this isn’t real. I’m dreaming. I’m asleep.” And then my dog, almost like a…like a hard cut in the film she like, shifted and was suddenly standing in a different part of the field. Just like, moved without moving.
And I was like, “Yep, that’s not real.” *laugh* And uh, and then I…
It’s that moment. That’s the key. I’ve had lucid dreams and you gotta have that moment.
You gotta find that moment, that identifying moment of like, “This isn’t quite right.” And then you gotta follow that thought and not let yourself let go of it and just say, “It isn’t quite right.” Right. Well, how is it not right? And explore that and not allow it to just…you know, that suspended disbelief that you have in dreams where it’s like,
“Well this is weird! I’ll just go with it.” *laugh* And you just can’t hang on to that thought. Um.
But then I started getting flashes of um, spiders.
But it was ok because I was able to like, see them and just kind of be like, “Ugh. Spiders. I’m afraid of spiders, so I’m seeing spiders.” And I was like, “Ugh! I’m asleep. I’m having nightmares and these are just images that are coming, and I recognize them.” Because that’s all it was, was just like images
-that would like flash and and I’d be like, “Ugh! I don’t like this.” And then another one and it was like, “Ugh! I don’t like this.” And that was when I was finally just sort of like, “Look, I already acknowledged that I’m asleep. I’m not feeling this. I would like to wake up now. Figure out how to wake up now.” And I like made myself wake up. And uh, and managed to just be like, “Done.” *laugh*
I agree. I think that is the toughest part of maintaining a lucid dream. I’ve only had it happen a couple times but, not panicking and not, like uh, like submitting to like you know, your fears, it’s so hard. It’s so difficult.
So, I had a similar one where I had that moment where I was like standing in a room and there was like, people I didn’t recognize, which is normal in all my dreams. There’s always strangers in my dreams.
I never see anyone I recognize.
Yeah, just, yeah. Just random, random people I’ve never encountered. And just, I was in a room I didn’t recognize, furniture I’ve never seen. I don’t know any of these people. I don’t know and I just looked around, and I think I looked down at one of my hands and that’s what did it. Just looking at my feet and hands, there was something really off, like my hands weren’t right. And I think I may have even checked the light switch, which is another thing they say to do.
Smart. Yeah. The one I’m familiar with is clocks.
Oh clocks! Oh, that’s a good one! Oh, wow.
Clocks, yeah. Did you ever see the movie Waking Life?
Waking Life…? I don’t know.
KIM! Watch Waking Life! Oh! It’s it’s
Oh shit. Oh.
Have I seen it?
You might hate it.
My partner fucking hates it. It’s he just
He’s he’s really picky though, and it’s really easy for him to be like, “That was way too up its own ass.” And I was like, “But I was there all the way! I will crawl right up in there!” *laughter*
And um, yeah, but I think you would appreciate it. I mean it made my mother motion sick. So, there’s that but *laugh*
Oh my god, really?
Probably don’t watch it high. *laugh*
Yeah, right! Oh, but Ethan Hawk!
But it’s…Yes! Every scene is animated by a different um…They filmed it and then they gave the film to be animated over by different artists. So, each section has a different artist’s
-touch and take.
That’s pretty cool.
And it’s really wrapped up in like, lucid dreaming…What is reality?
How do you know if you’re dreaming? How do you know if you’re dead?
I love it as like an art film and what I learned from that was, clocks! Like, if you look at a clock in a dream it will almost never give you the time.
It will, like, it’ll. The numbers will be floating around. They won’t come together perfectly. You know. Or even with an analog clock, it just won’t quite be doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
That’s so interesting!
And even if you do like, manage to get like a hard time, like look at a clock and know like, “Oh, it’s like, 5:57.” It’s not because you read it off of the clock. It’s because your brain fed you that number. Like there’s just this weird disconnect. But you were telling me about your dream, continue.
Wow. That’s so interesting…No, but yeah, I had that moment you know where I…I had that realization moment and as soon as I did that all the people disappeared, like faded, faded away.
The roof blew off the house.
I knocked down the walls like, flat on the ground and then they disappeared into the grass. The floor beneath me disappeared, the furniture disappeared, and I was just in a big, open, grassy meadow. It was beautiful.
With blue skies and then I looked up, I looked down, and then I just started rocketing off of Earth at an incredible speed. Faster than a spaceship would go, and I was out of the atmosphere in, like, 10 seconds maybe? And, I got to outer space where you know if I held my hands in front of me and made a circle, or just even one hand, just making a small circle I could, that was like my vision of the Earth in outer space. And I was floating in outer space, but the spooky part was there were no stars anywhere…
It was just, it was just…
Was it like the void?
Just blackness. It was the void. It was blackness. And then I started getting panicky thinking that asteroids might hit me…*laugh*
Gravity style? *laugh*
Yeah like Gravity style. Right. And this was before Gravitycame out.
The movie, yeah.
And I was already freaking out about asteroids hitting me. And then I realize, I don’t have a space suit on….and I’m in outer space. And then I looked, like, behind me and there was no moon, there was no star, it was just blackness. It was just pure blackness. And I freaked out. And that’s when I woke up.
That’s an amazing dream! That’s one of the best ones I’ve heard.
Yeah. That was like my, that was the most lucid I’ve ever been in a dream. And I’ve had other ones that are like strange, but I knew more or less what was going on, and was moving around. Kind of floatin’ and stuff. I was at like a weird party. That was my other lucid dream. I was at a strange party of some kind. But the, the outer space one, that was legit. That was pretty sweet. Up until when I turned around! *cringing laugh*
*sound of sympathy* I had um…Another like lucid dream that stands out like, talking about that like fear thing and like not getting caught up in like following that fear? When you said that one that popped out to me from many years ago actually involved like a xenomorph from Alien. They’ll show up in my dreams every so often because they are just like, you know, I love the idea of them
Oh yeah, they’re terrifying.
-being the perfect lifeform. The perfect predator. And they’re, they are! They’re fucking scary as shit *laugh* Um. And I was just like, I was in some kind of huge store. Like a, like a grocery store or a Walmart or something. Something with aisles. And I was with a bunch of people and we were hiding from, you know, the xenomorphs or I didn’t, I don’t think I even knew what we were hiding from at that point. But it was that, you know that survival group of people that are banded together because you happen to like, I don’t know, find yourself hiding behind the same thing at the same time.
*laugh* And so, strangers, you know, no emotional connection. But just trying to stay quiet. To make it. And I remember dodging around aisles and trying to, I can’t even remember. But I just remember turning into like the next aisle and finding myself face to face with one of the xenomorphs.
Oh *cringing laugh*
And it starts opening its mouth and doing the whole thing…
And I just like, in this moment of clarity I was just like, “No.” *laugh*
Right. No more.
And I just recognized it as a nightmare and was like, “I choose to not pursue this moment.” And *snaps fingers* woke up. *laugh*
Yo. Good for you. Hell yeah.
I’m not sticking around for this shit. Whatever. Bye!
Yeah. I ain’t dealing with this crap. I ain’t got time for this.
Yo. I’ve definitely had some like similar dreams where like I’m just with a group of survivors from the apocalypse or whatever.
Just getting around, you know, avoiding zombies or whatever horrible…I have a lot of post-apocalyptic nightmares I think.
Yeah. Zombies show up a lot in nightmares. They don’t do it anymore but like growing up I had a huge problem with them. With zombies. This was actually a therapy breakthrough for me, was figuring out like, why are there dead people in my dreams? Like, why is this such a huge like, cuz I suffered with dreams, nightmares that were so bad that I refer to them as psychotic nightmares because that’s apparently like a term.
But they were horrific, and they were at their worst at the time right before I ended up in the psych ward for two weeks in sophomore year.
And there’s a whole lot built into that, that I won’t talk about, but things just got really bad. I would have horrific nightmares when I would go to sleep. Time lost all meaning so I, it felt like anytime I went to sleep I could just randomly be gone for like a month into like the worst hell that anyone could imagine. And I felt that there was a psychological burden to them. They were so horrific that I felt I couldn’t share them. Because when I did share them with people, I would fuck other people up!
They would be like, “Oh my god that is awful. And I feel, like I’m not ok having heard that.” And I was like, “Well, it’s my responsibility to keep this to myself for the health of other people. And so I didn’t share them with my therapists either, which is just worse because it gives them more power.
Talking about your dreams just like removes that charge that they have. But a huge reoccurring theme was like, dead people? Or reanimated people…um
Not zombies exactly and I, it felt really important to me to say they’re not zombies.
But the important thing was that they were rotting people that were walking around.
Right, maybe more of a Pet Semataryvibe than a zombie vibe?
I don’t know, it was, yeah, a little bit but it was like the decomposition was the huge thing for me. That they were rotten…
Oh I see what you mean, oof. That’s scary.
It was very graphic, very scary. Those were some really bad ones, I’ve had a lot of really bad ones but um, but the dead or rotten people kept coming up as like a reoccurring thing. I took meds for many years like to be able to, to not have the dreams and if I went off the meds for any period of time within two weeks I would end up having nightmares again.
Oh, that’s rough.
And it wasn’t until like uh, a few years ago talking with my therapist at the time I kind of finally explored that a little more and came to the realization that it had to do with a trauma that I suffered in 7th grade that was a social trauma. That had to do with the weird like, witch hunt. I don’t know if you remember that like back in grade school.
Oh, I remember that yeah.
But the way that the whole town turned on me, and people I had grown up with and known all my life turned on me and started lying about me, or saying all these things, or believing all these things about me um, and the way I saw mob mentality take hold and transform people around me…
And reveal parts of them that I didn’t know they had. It was just this bizarre feeling of everyone being tested, and everyone failing.
Almost all the people around me failing the most important test and turning into different people and turning on me and uh, kind of throwing me to the wolves, and um, kind of doing the whole, point your fingers and burn the witch kinda thing.
And that fucked me up forever*laugh* like, I’m still finding my way out of that. Because it not, I don’t really know, I’ve kind of looked, I don’t really know what to call a social trauma like that. The only word that I’ve kind of like come up with besides, I mean “witch hunt” is loaded, even though it was technically, literally a witch hunt because I was being called a witch
*laugh* yeah, it was, quite literally. Yeah.
I feel weird throwing that around but that’s literally what it was. It was like a modern day Salem Witch thing. Trying to come up with equivalents of trauma that’s suffered at the hands of a social group, not really sure what to call that, or how to explore like support groups for that because I feel like it’s very specific when a social group turns on you. When society turns on you, as a group and traumatizes you. How do you trust people again? How do you trust groups? How do you become a part of them? How do you get over being “the other” when you were made the other?
There’s a whole lot in there. But what I figured out with the therapist was that the reason they weren’t like zombies to me, it wasn’t a fear of dead people because I’m not afraid of dead people. I’m not afraid of death. I’m not really afraid of dying, you know to this degree that it would be showing up in nightmares. And it came down to like, why can’t I express the difference between like a zombie and what I’m seeing? And it came down to this rotting thing and finally what I figured out what like, that what it came back to was that trauma in grade school and what people revealed to me about what is inside them. And I figured out like, that’s what I’m seeing. I’m seeing what I saw then which is what’s rotten in people.
And that fear, that reveal, that big reveal of what people can be at their worst. People gone bad.
Yeah, I mean that’s, that’s the real life horror you know, that we’ve been talking about though were it’s like, you watch a movie where they have like a witch or something… or like the movie that we watched, The Witch.
And it’s like literally this interrogation, people turning on you, very intense, very traumatizing situation. Especially, you know, whether it be a community, or like your classmates, or your family? You know? Like it was in that movie. But then they have this supernatural, but it’s like, but that part doesn’t matter. That’s just the, it’s just showing you what’s going on in this true story. You know? I remember that time and how fucked up it was, and we didn’t really know each other…and, I mean probably we knew of each other but we didn’t really know each other *laugh*
Yeah, I mean, small school. *laugh*
It was a pretty small school, right, totally, totally. But, I’m glad we became friends eventually. I think that’s, I think that’s great. And that we’ve been able to talk about stuff that’s happened to us since we’ve had a shared past and what we’ve experienced in between.
And like, I think it’s great that we’re such, such fans of art in so many forms, you know, and that we can enjoy these things and we can also kind of heal, you know, with this art at the same time. And to be able to share that with someone is really special.
Yeah. Aw, thank you for saying that. I feel the same way. I’m so glad that we met up later in life when we had kind of *laugh* because different people.
That’s pretty true, yeah. *laugh*
*laugh* Little bit.
More, more who were meant to be…I guess. Yeah.
I’d say so. Yeah. We’re both way cooler, I think.
*laugh* Yes. Agreed. *laughter*
I think we’re both like, way cooler.
I mean I think we’ve both always been cool but now we’re just, we’ve, we’ve proven our point. You know?
We’re leaning into the awesome sauce. Yeah.
Right! *shared laughter*
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18:54 *Outro music by Ramshackle Glory*
*fade in to folk/punk chords of guitar* Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. And hold on, and hold on, hold on for your life *echoes into brief silence*…(Chorus and full band) Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. And hold on, and hold on, hold on for your life. *triumphant and uplifting music plays till end*
Kim is an Audio Engineer, a talented musician, a pansexual trans woman, and the Queen of memes. She loves black clothing, intense movies, video games, the NBA, and making her friends laugh. She loves her coffee sweet and her candy sour.
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