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Reoccurring nightmares, or “Katie Dreams of Stress”

When I was in high school, my reoccurring stress dream was me taking the keys to my parents’ car and just driving. I would get behind the wheel and go, with no destination in mind. At a certain point, I would start to feel guilty, but I would decide that I was in too deep to turn around. I would continue to drive, my sense of anxiety increasing — until I woke up.


That dream, while moderately unpleasant, made sense to me at the time. I wanted out of my parents’ house, wanted out of Ohio, wanted to become an adult, and at the same time was worried about disappointing my parents or otherwise getting in “trouble.”


I had that stress dream a handful of times over my senior year in high school, and as SOON as I went to college, it never happened again. I went through approximately the next 15 years without any other reoccurring stress dreams...


Until now.


As of Tuesday night, I have officially dreamed about my husband leaving me THREE TIMES.


What the fuck, brain!? Why are you doing this to me? This is WAY WORSE than that car dream. Whenever I have it, I wake up with this overwhelming feeling of sadness, and I really have to talk myself out of it: He’s not leaving you, it was just a dream, everything is OK...



A cartoon man staring wide-eyed at the ceiling.
Actual photo of me trying to get some sleep at night.


R has a quip at the ready for whenever I come at him all forlornly for post-stress dream snuggles: “I’m not going anywhere — all my stuff is here!” Which... OK, fine. I married this man at least partially for his sense of humor, but c’mon, that is not exactly comforting, dude!


But really, I know he’s not leaving me. This is the most rock solid relationship I’ve ever been in. R is the only person with whom I can be my genuine, authentic, total weirdo self. He’s sat through countless spur of the moment songs and interpretive dances as well as listened to me accidentally read out loud while we’re lying in bed with our books. Side note: I don’t know why I do that but it is embarrassing every. single. time.


I love him, and he loves me, and I know I shouldn’t be worried about it. So why is this dream happening to me?!?!


I think part of it is because we ARE so solid — it’s the one part of my life that’s squared away while a significant number of other things are in flux. I’m at a point in my career where I’m not sure what my job future looks like, and whether or not kids are going to happen for us is also a big freaking question mark. Not to mention that I’m worried about our entire country falling apart in front of my eyes, but that’s a blog post for a whole other day.


But if R left me, it would literally be the worst thing to ever happen to me. He is the foundation under my feet. He’s my person. Even thinking about losing him feels awful. Nothing else that could go wrong for me even compares to that.


What’s the solution to this? How can I stop this stress dream from happening? I would say the answer is “get the rest of your life in order,” but that’s a little easier to say than to do. And “take NyQuil” is not a sustainable plan for the long-term.


Has anyone else ever had a reoccurring stress dream? What was it about, and why did you have it? How did you make it go away? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter and help me solve this problem.



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