My Recurring Nightmare

Me at age 11, plus my altered version (I had a thing for scary movies)

My Real Memoir

I’m guilty, I know, of giving the impression I led an idyllic childhood. It’s true that I was a proto-storyteller with a headful of dreams, in love with books and art and music and movies. And it’s also true that I was, in many ways, a quintessential boy-boy, playing fearlessly, and coming home, carelessly bruised and dirtied, just in time for dinner. I was a self-absorbed only child from a self-existent home with a loving, creative homemaker mom and an ambitious, hard-working dad, busily “building a future” for his tiny nuclear family.

So, yes, I dreamed happily through much of my childhood.

And yet there was this darker dream, nightmare really. It wasn’t joyful like my flying dreams, nor even the momentarily mortifying ones about discovering I’d ridden my bike to school in my skivvies, only to awaken still happily pajamaed in bed. Nor even the terrifying dream of a banshee-like witch, or the one about dying at age five. In fact, the latter was strangely sweet, for in it I knew I was loved and would forever be missed.

No, my recurring nightmare was darker.

It began when I around eleven-years-old. I’d gone to bed before Mommandad, and could hear the murmur of the television through my bedroom wall. And then it happened. I cried out. Mom’s muffled voice called from the den, “What’s wrong, honey?” I answered, even though I was still asleep, “Someone’s throwing rocks at me!” and in doing so awoke amid a knot of twisted, sweat-soaked sheets, wondering why I’d said that. It wasn’t what I was dreaming.

What was I dreaming? On the one hand, it felt like an invasion from another reality, and so there were no words to describe it. On the other, there were unsettling images in my mind of trying desperately to walk on a dark, shifting landscape of human organs, hills made of deep red flesh that were constantly giving away beneath me, threatening to swallow me up. And if I let it happen, I knew–knew–I would never awaken again; I’d be lost forever in that hideous place. My only hope was to lay hold of a tiny yellow object shaped like a wishbone. Sometime later, I saw a tuning fork for the first time and thought, That’s my object!

The “mare” in nightmare comes from an old Germanic word for a kind of demon or incubus that recurringly visits people while they sleep, sucking away their joy and eventually their life. I would always awaken feeling as though that was exactly what was happening to me. Sometimes the nightmare would reoccur for several nights. Sometimes months would pass, or even a year or two; I’d think it was gone forever, but then it would happen again.

The nightmare continued into my teens, and then seemed to fade away, but made one final appearance when I was in my early twenties. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered what I believe caused it…

And what that “tuning fork” might be.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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30 Responses to My Recurring Nightmare

  1. This picture cracks me up😆 But that nightmare sounds terrifying indeed!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A scary, intriguing, story with a cliffhanger. I don’t want to miss the rest.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Webb Blogs says:

    Wow now that’s a nightmare I never want to have. I am very curious as to what you think was causing it, so I will patiently wait for second half of this post. 😁 Cute pictures 😁

    Liked by 4 people

  4. believe4147 says:

    Well, you have peaked my interest.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. JOY journal says:

    Hmmmm. Interested to hear more!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We certainly are more receptive to the spirit world, good or bad, when we’re asleep. In your case, that had to be a frightening experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark Johnson says:

    Your writing is so vivid and captivating, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. rwfrohlich says:

    Oh great! Another cliffhanger. I don’t recall the content of my childhood dreams, but I do remember being scared. Still have the “skivvies in public” dream now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. CG says:

    Good grief!! Continue!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Wow, it’s a wonder you ever got to sleep after having that one a few times! I can’t wait for your interpretation.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Ok. You’ve got me hooked, Mitch. Please post the conclusion to this story—like in the next 15 minutes?😩

    Liked by 3 people

  12. murisopsis says:

    My husband’s recurring nightmare from childhood (and strangely all his siblings had the same dream) was of a large fish flopping in the bed.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. cindy knoke says:

    I am super impressed you had such complex dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My recurring dream lacks details, but I’m always running with someone chasing, and I can’t scream. Probably the last one was in my twenties, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. K.L. Hale says:

    And now, we wait…your pic, Mitch~I seriously need to record my giggling. 🤭

    Liked by 3 people

  16. You left us hanging from a cliff. Not a nice way to treat your friends. ;-(

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Wow–that’s an intense dream for an eleven year-old! Looking forward to the conclusion–I have a feeling I know where this is going, though anxious to read about the steps that got you there.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ann Coleman says:

    Well now I’m curious!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pam Lazos says:

    Wow, scary indeed and do tell what happens next!

    Liked by 1 person

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