Recently I’ve been thinking about my childhood nightmares and remembering them more. Particularly in connection to lucid dreaming. I’ve been fascinated to discover that among natural lucid dreamers, becoming conscious in nightmares as a child and waking yourself up, or trying to wake yourself up, is quite common. (There also seems to be a common thread of reading Carlos Castaneda in younger years, though I hear “Journey to Ixtlan” mentioned frequently I believe my favorite had been “A Separate Reality“)
I wanted to write a more detailed post about my childhood nightmares. For my own investigative purposes if nothing else. The more I write, the more I seem to remember.
This all occurred approximately between the ages of 6 – 9:
50% of my nightmares were about something or someone trying to kill my mom. I specifically remember a squirrel trying to kill her in one dream and someone trying to murder her with scissors in another.
I never became lucid in these and I don’t remember if I was only observing in the dream or an active participant.
In the other 50% of my nightmares I was being chased. Quite often it was a reoccurring nightmare. The dream scene was this crazy made up world that was a mix of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare obstacle course, Winnie the Pooh’s Heffalumps, Raggedy Ann and Andy’s musical adventure, Alice in Wonderland, Puff the Magic Dragon, and whatever other tripped out cartoons I used to watch. (What’s crazy is I always had a feeling some of my nightmare-scapes came from Raggedy Ann and Andy, but I couldn’t really remember for sure. When I was about 17 this idea of Raggedy Ann came to me. I looted the video store (back when we had such a thing, pre-youtube) and watched all the Raggedy Ann and Andy’s with my friends, searching for the tripped out images I remembered. I couldn’t find any. It was so confusing. I had these vivid nightmarish images I was sure came from cartoons and couldn’t find proof. I gave up and forgot about it. As I’m putting this up on the internet, I wanted to link different youtube videos of the things I’m talking about. The first Raggedy Ann clip I clicked on on youtube was almost exactly like the dream I explain later on. I can’t believe it. It was surreal to see. I typed up my dream, and then it was like I was watching it on the internet. After all these years)
Though I never watched Pink Floyd the Wall as a child, the dreams were also kind of like the drawn aspects of that movie the way things morphed into other things.
Looking back, the dreams were super tripped out, psychedelic and quite awesome in a way, but they scared the piss outta me. I remember specifically going down a slide and landing in a giant pie (from Double Dare) and then the sugary treat I was sitting in grew bigger and came alive. A monster came out of it and cherries were its eyes and it came after me (Raggedy Ann and Andy) This is 1 of 2 dreams that I remember the strongest. Everything else is more vague. I remember being terrified of the pie monster, I remember realizing it was a dream. Closing my eyes tight, and getting the hell out of there (waking myself up). None of the other dreams are solid like this one. Just fragmented, fuzzy bits. I do remember being in those places and thinking, “this again”, and gaining consciousness and waking up.
This particular dreamscape was like a giant, scary, fun house with tricks around every corner. I remember there were often doors and rooms. I was always walking through a door into a different room. Each room would be tripped out in a completely different way. Sometimes the doors were in the floor and I would drop down into a different room or go down a slide. Sometimes the doors were up high and I would go through them, but I don’t remember how. I just remember coming out of a door that was on the floor of another room.
Because this dreamscape was so frequent, this is where I would become lucid. Every time I remember consciously waking myself up from a dream, it would be in this tripped out world.
The other specific lucid nightmare I remember from childhood was completely different. It was not in this trippy world. – You know, it would be kool to go back to the childhood nightmare now in a lucid dream. I wonder if that’s possible? – I had a re-run nightmare. In these trippy fun house nightmares it was the same dreamscape, but the dream was always different. In this other nightmare, it was the exact same, play by play. I recognized that it was repeating. I realized I had had this nightmare before. I realized I was dreaming and I wasn’t scared. I had been terrified the first time around, but not the second. I knew everything that was going to happen.
Here’s what I remember – I’m in a specific room in my childhood home. Someone had completely covered every inch of the walls and furniture in boogers. Yes, boogers. And my dream memory tells me that boogers are flammable. The guy that is after me sets the boogers on fire. The whole room goes up in flames. The flames are creeping to the rest of the house. I ran up into my parents bedroom. That’s all I really remember of the dream. I became lucid when I was in the booger room. I mean, something as ridiculous as that doesn’t happen twice. I realized it was a dream. I didn’t escape it because I wasn’t scared. I didn’t think to control it though. I just observed the whole dream as it passed. Saying out loud what was going to happen next just before it happened. Laughing at the guy trying to kill me because I knew it wasn’t real. I remember waking from this dream feeling so happy and excited. I think I may have told my parents about this. I never told them about any of the other dreams though.
I still had nightmares after that, but not that specific one. I don’t remember ever experiencing anything like that as a child ever again.
I do remember the first time my stuffed dog came into my dream and saved me. I was running down the street away from my friend’s house and towards my house. There were 1 or more large dogs after me. I was headed towards the stop sign, then I would have to turn right to get to my house. My stuffed dog comes running. Turns at the stop sign towards me. He looks cartoonish. He attacked the other dogs and saved me. I was so happy and thankful. After that I wasn’t afraid of my dreams anymore. I knew he would always save me from then on. And he did. I don’t remember exactly how many nightmares the stuffed dog saved me from before the nightmares finally gave up and went away.
I also don’t remember if I was ever aware I was dreaming or not when the stuffed dog saved me. It’s quite possible, but uncertain.
After the nightmares stopped I still had plenty of being chased, high anxiety dreams. But very rarely were they what I would call ‘nightmares’.
Aside from that time when I was doing dream work at 23, I’ve probably only had a small handful of nightmares. The kind that scare the piss out of you, make you fear sleep, and follow you into the waking world.