As a child I had a reoccurring nightmare. I was alone at night walking down the street adjacent to our house. At the end of the street I could see a monster. He was coming my way, but as much as I wanted to run, I couldn’t move. I stood there, paralyzed with fear, my feet stuck to the ground. He had the body of a human but his head…I can’t describe it. It looked almost like one of those rubber Halloween masks. It was terrifying. All around him was this intense orange light. It was as if he was emitting an aura of fire. Step by step he got closer to me. Just as he was about to grab me, I woke up. I was back in my room. My nightlight illuminated the bookstand filled with my favorite books, my curtains, adorned with pictures of cute jungle animals, moved gently with the breeze coming through the window. Everything was back to normal. I was safe.
It was the same every time. I had the dream for months. I didn’t have it every night. It was sporadic, which was almost worse because I never quite knew when “he” would appear. Before going to sleep I would silently pray not to have any nightmares. After a time, whenever I had the dream, I became aware that I was dreaming, but didn’t know how to wake myself up. I just had to let it play out. Here he comes, here he comes, almost there…phew! I was back in my room.
After about a year of this, I decided that the next time I had the dream, I would confront the monster and tell him to leave me alone. I don’t know how my 6-year old self had the wherewithal to make this declaration, but there you have it. It didn’t take long before I had the dream again. I remember being aware that I was dreaming and remembered the “deal” I had made with myself. I was really scared but I was determined. This time, as the monster grabbed me, I screamed “LEAVE ME ALONE” and I pulled his black matted hair. But as I pulled it, I realized that it WAS a mask. When I removed the mask, I was shocked to find my favorite babysitter underneath. She laughed and kind of bounced me on her knee saying “good job!” I woke up and never had the dream again.
As the years went by, I had other reoccurring nightmares. But, because of that one childhood experience, if I was having a lucid dreaming experience, I would face whatever was tormenting me. Each time I was scared to death, but somehow, I drew from some unseen inner strength. It was a strange sensation, but I liken it to the feeling you get when someone is being mean to someone you love or someone you love is in danger. Your whole body fills with energy and you feel like you could lift a car. I don’t have nightmares nearly as much as I used to, but these experiences have helped me in my waking hours.
I don’t like confrontation—never have, never will. This doesn’t mean that I can’t handle confrontation. I do what needs to be done. But I don’t like it. It took me many years to learn to stand up for myself and unleash my voice. It was much easier for me to stand up for others. I was happy to play mama bear to every underdog on the planet. But fight for myself? No thanks. I’ll just be over here reading my book, thank you. But there were times that I had to face the “monsters” in real life. Sometimes they showed up in the form of an ex-husband who could be cruel, unpredictable, and mean. Sometimes they showed up in the form of a VP who treated me like garbage even though I worked my heart out for her and did an excellent job.
There will always be “monsters.” But you have a choice regarding how you deal with them. You ALWAYS have a choice. You can confront them or you can cut your losses and extricate yourself from the situation. The important thing is to do SOMETHING. Make a choice. Monsters count on the fact that you’ll stand there, paralyzed, just like the 6-year old me in the nightmare. They draw their power from siphoning off yours. Take your power back. I know it’s scary, but once you face whatever or whoever YOUR monster is, all the frightening scenarios that you’ve built up in your mind will fall away. What you’ll find is that they never really had power over you. But you, YOU will be left with the knowing that you are powerful beyond measure.