Your Possible Pasts

mmm... a cuppa...

mmm… a cuppa…

It’s 7am on a Sunday and, in a fit of irked defiance, I made myself a cup of fully caffeinated Barry’s tea with milk — real, whole, pasteurized cow milk — and sugar. I’m shaking like a leaf now and don’t know if the sudden addition of dairy to my diet will have any effect, but, oh, make no mistake, there is nothing in the world like a proper cup of tea and I needed that comfort.

I went to sleep last night at 12:30am and awoke at 4:30am with my heart pounding from a stressful dream and I never went back to sleep. This isn’t uncommon — one of the sleep issues I’ve had since being ill is waking up at the end of every REM cycle. My sleep doctor couldn’t find any reason for it (apnea events, restless leg etc.) and it means that I remember multiple dreams every night. Unfortunately, they are all too often nightmares — tortured events that almost always revolve around my illness: I am being chased by murderers, but I am too sick to get away. My dogs are in peril and I’m too weak to save them. I’m homeless and being accosted by faceless strangers on the street and I have no energy to fight and no voice to argue. No voice is a recurring theme — the inability to yell for help, the inability to defend myself.

This morning, the breathless, heart-pounding awakening was caused by a dream about a friend who accused me of something I didn’t do 17 years ago. I won’t get into details because it is buried just enough to not engulf me in a tsunami of emotion and, when I finally deal with it, it will have to be parsed out in careful digestible bits, probably with my therapist. But, I think it is time to confront it. She was a friend I loved very much and with whom I had years of history. She is actually one of my facebook contacts because I don’t like letting anyone go, but my stomach turns every time I see her interacting with my old circle of friends, a combination of bitterness, jealously, embarrassment and mourning for the loss of that closeness and confidence in childhood loyalty. The situation actually changed the course of my life because, in the wake of it, I postponed a move back to Ireland and wound up meeting my husband soon thereafter.

Although I never believed it before, it occurred to me recently that maybe all this dealing with the past bullshit has some merit. In 2012, my counselor at the time tried to broach the subject of anger or hurt that I might be harbouring from my past and I shut it down. Emotionally, I felt fine until this horrific illness and all I’ve needed and wanted was help dealing with the abrupt loss of life as I knew it. Who cares about my parents’ divorce when I’m trying not to die every day and I want to die every night? But I’ve come through the acute stage of ME and have accepted where I am. My fear is justifiably about the future and the present feels pretty… matte. But the damn past has started gurgling up in my dreams. Last week I drempt that my old boss instructed me to open a bunch of restaurants in quick succession and I was too sick and ineffectual to do it. I woke up in a cold sweat of anxious panic and blunt anger at a job that always asked too much. There are demons in there.

So, today I’m starting with an email — or at least the contemplation of an email — to my old friend. Maybe I don’t need to go into the extended rant that always surfaces during those half-awake moments when I start to compose the letter. Maybe I just need to find my voice and say, for the record, I didn’t do it.

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13 thoughts on “Your Possible Pasts

  1. Jackie says:

    I don’t always wake up after every REM cycle, (usually just 3 of them) but I go through periods of time where I do! Sooo many dreams/nightmares! I hope your friend listens to you. After all this time, I would hope so!!


  2. currankentucky says:

    Write whatever it is you need to write and then let it go… I know its sounds easy but you will be stronger for it (you are already an Iron woman btw!). I’ve had my share of past interactions, people who hurt me etc. and now thinking back on them, I feel nothing.. I said whatever needed to be said and then I let it go, floating like a balloon away from me. LIve as you, not as past actions what you to live… xx


    • Such good advice and I might come whinging to you for help in just HOW to let it go. I’m consistently inspired by your relatively calm mind. Maybe I need to take this out in poetry — maybe that’s my problem: I stopped poetic therapy! X


  3. Christine says:

    I hope it brings you some healing! Sometimes, things just need to be said…to be put out into the universe.

    And I hear you about the sleep. I’m an expert at having nightmares. My husband said if I actually wrote them down, I could be the next Stephen King 😉


  4. bertieandme says:

    We’ve chatted a little bit about this already, so you know I get where you’re coming from. Injustice is *such* a hard thing to let go of. The anger eats away at you. You need to do whatever you need to do to let go, and if that’s emailing your friend then do it. You have nothing to lose. If she still insists you did it then you’ve at least had your say – but you do then need to unfriend her on Facebook. If however she accepts you didn’t do it and apologises then it will have been worth the stress of the email.

    Injustice has been a big theme in my own life, but for me just knowing that I hadn’t done anything wrong was enough. I didn’t need to prove to the accusor or anyone else that I was innocent, though I had nothing further to do with the accusor or anyone who supported or believed them. But we all handle situations differently. Do whatever you need to. Hugs x


  5. Michael VH says:

    I go through cycles of very intense, vivid nightmares that really affect and stay with me. Like, waking up half-leaping out of bed nightmares. I absolutely think it’s a symptom, not just the detritus of stress or upset or despair (though that’s there too a lot). They come with particular other symptoms and go away for periods too–periods where I am under just as much stress or despair or other things. In a bigger picture, if I’m very symptomatic, being yanked out of sleep over and over, especially if everything else is in full effect—it all really wears me down.


  6. Michael VH says:

    I just realized you wrote “…trying not to die”. That’s so funny, that’s what I have been telling people for a long time now when they call and ask me what I’m doing. They never really know how much it feels utterly true and not a joke at all.


  7. JillinoisRN says:

    I had a co-worker/friend who did the same thing… but she wouldn’t tell me what I supposedly did, or I surely would have tried to make it right. Sometimes you just have to let them live with their stuff- she’s the one who isn’t letting you be heard. Is someone like that worth having in your life? I like to be heard- don’t have to agree, but at least be understood. ❤ But I know it hurts.


  8. Zuz says:

    Do it!


  9. Lindsay says:

    I’m wake up after ever REM cycle, too, breathless, full of adrenaline and with a pounding heart. I think it’s a great idea to write out the letter, wait a few days, then decide if you want to send it. Sometimes just writing can be very therapeutic.


  10. Aisling says:

    Wow! I cannot believe the parallels in our lives Elizabeth. I too was betrayed by my Very BF 25 years ago in Ireland and decided long ago to let her go but she often crept up in dreams where I was still trying to reconcile. the dreams have lessened and lessened as I’ve come to peace with it, My main upset once I realized that I did nt need her was the sadness that she had ” stolen” our one mutual friend by lying about me. I had hoped the mutual friend would stay out of it and I had chosen the noble path of not telling her the full story on the hopes she would not take sides but that didn’t suit her as she was on the other side of the pond with old BFF. Anyway I just reconnected with mutual friend via FB but not sure if she really cares. On to your process, I highly recommend Desmond tutus book. The book of forgiveness. Google the forgiveness challenge – if you can’t handle the book (which is an easy read and includes meditations and exercises) , you can follow the 30 day process via daily emails. Don’t blast out an email until you’ve done this. I JUST completed it and wrote a letter to my sis in law who I had to forgive for disinviting me on a luxury holiday because I was I’ll! It was right after I crashed 3 years ago. It took me 6 months to do it but the freedom you feel once you do it is great! Only sent it last week so no idea if the reaction will be positive as but in the long run hopefully. You have to follow the 4 step process including describing in detail how you were hurt, and it is hard work but worth it. We all have people to forgive, including ourselves for being so hard on ourselves. I believe this is part of why I’ve been feeling more energy last few months! More on that in another reply. Good luck!


  11. […] had been telling him that I’d planned to move back to Dublin that summer, but, because of an upsetting situation, I didn’t know if I could. When he asked me that question, I answered, “Ride a […]


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