I have always been prone to an especially sensitive imagination. One which when left to its own devices runs unabated, collecting every thought, fear and hope of mine and challenging me with a warped reflection of each.
It preys on me when I am at my most susceptible, for example if I am in a new place or have just encountered a trying experience. After I lost my grandfather, he visited me in dream-form twice in the weeks following his passing. The general sentiment of each dream indicated that he was happy and left me with a warm feeling each time. However, when my best and oldest friend of 18 years chose to end our relationship suddenly without a word of explanation, I watched her befall a tragic end in a plane crash that woke me with wracking sobs.
I know that my dreams are not necessarily based on fact, more that they pick up the fragments of my subconscious and amid the freedom of my sleeping state play out a version of how I’m feeling. Either revealing something my waking self is afraid of, behaving in a way I hope never to, or allowing someone in to pass on a message; my dreams often affect me even once the night is over.
Since becoming a mother my imagination has played host to a variety of dreams, mostly ones I wish to forget. They have come in sporadic waves as I get to grips with the many overwhelming emotions and fears that strike the moment the umbilical cord is severed. But the past week has left me inundated with nightmares, each featuring various scenarios involving a separation from my baby. Being forced to give her up for adoption, leaving her somewhere, someone snatching her and so on. I wake up filled with unease, rushing into her room to ensure she is still there and my overactive imagination hasn’t somehow gone all Freddy Kruger on me.
This separation anxiety is haunting me on a daily basis and whether it is a precursor to the fact that come 2013 I will be forced to leave her with a childminder on my return to work, or merely the internal ramblings of a first time mother; I don’t know.
It’s a terrifying love that engulfs you when you become a parent and the idea of not being able to control the world around you in order to protect your most precious possession only exacerbates that terror. Your own flawed humanity comes into play as you make mistakes like forgetting to strap her carseat into the car or burning the vegetables you are preparing for her lunch. Guilt stalks you constantly and perhaps that is what is driving my dreams, my own guilt at my maternal shortcomings?
Maybe my father leaving when I was young has a part to play? Maybe I’ve read too many articles and watched too many films about young children and babies being taken? Maybe I just don’t have enough love for myself to believe I am allowed something so good in my life? Whatever it is, it will most likely take more than a dreamcatcher to appease my imagination.
I just hope that from now on my dreams are sweet, instead of laced with a bitter after taste.