I would have a nightmare off and on in my teenage years and in my yearly twenties. The background scenes were a little different but the central character was always the same. I remember three of them, all of them very short.
One was when I was around seventeen or eighteen. In the dream I was walking at night along the street we lived on coming back home from a corner store about a quarter of mile down the way. The road we lived on was the last street of the south side of the municipality we lived in with only fields behind it, so it was a lonely long road.
To continue, in the dream I’m walking in the dark with the street lights offering pockets of light. I hear a scuffle or skiff of a shoe-like sound behind me and I turn and look. About 30 feet away, far enough that I could take in the whole view and behaviour of the creature and close enough to know it was there just for me, I saw a shadow figure. It was a tall thin shadow man with limbs too long. It was just standing there looking right at me. It was evil in human form and I was too terrified to speak. All of a sudden it started moving in an erratic, inhuman way, creepy off-the-charts. I knew it was doing this to traumatize me with its otherworldy weirdness as these weren’t human movements. I woke up frozen with fear.
When I was eighteen I had another one. It started similarly in that I was walking home at night and approaching the driveway that would lead to the front door. Just before I approached the driveway I saw the same long shadow man figure emerge from among the shadows of the two vehicles parked there side-by-side. He started his creepy jerky dance of large exaggerated and inhuman movements and then suddenly slipped in front of one of the cars to hide. I stood there paralyzed knowing that he knew I couldn’t go forward with him crouching there out of sight.
With this one I woke up and tried to figure out what it meant. I knew the figure represented something but I didn’t know what. Whatever it was, the sense was it had singled me out and was narrowed down on me. There had to be something like that in my life that matched that characteristic. I knew that if only I could figure that out the nightmares would stop.
The last one when I was twenty. I was sharing an apartment with a friend in Vancouver at the time and that apartment was featured in the dream. In the dream I had woken up in the middle of the night because of a sound in the apartment’s living room. I got up and stepped quietly through the hallway to look into that room. I was obviously braver in my dream than I would have been in real life! In a sense of evil that permeated the darkness I knew the shadow man was in there hiding behind the end of the couch at the far end of the room. I mustered all I had to barely squeak out from a throat tight with terror, “Who are you?” Perhaps the straining to speak was due to my being asleep but finally getting the words out had woken me up.
The next day I was determined that I was going to figure out what the nightmares represented. I may have been getting them only around once a year but they so terrified me that I couldn’t bear one more. I thought hard but knew it was going to be more of an instinctual thing and that there would be an “fit” when I got the right answer.
I came up with an answer almost right away, but that answer seemed odd for a subject for a nightmare, so I continued to think of what’s dark, what lurks, what follows me, what targets me? The same answer came again and I accepted it in surprise. It was my mother, THAT was the shadow man in my dreams. My mother! But to be precise, it wasn’t my mother as much as it was what was inside my mother when she was bearing down on me in rage with her eyes full of hate and almost like her crazed insides needed to come out in a direct assault toward me.
It fit. It was the right answer and I never had a nightmare like that ever again. I was then old enough and living away from her so the answer could now come and not when I was still living with her. I’m certain God reveals these things to us when it’s safe to do so. And what was being revealed to me was that I was not just dealing with a rejecting hateful mother but with a dark force.
I shelved that information for decades. I lived away from her ever since except for a short time in my early thirties, and was then always hoping things could get a little better. They did, but only marginally, when she entered her seventies and mellowed out a little. But now that I’m nearing fifty I want to start looking back and make more sense of what had gone on in my life up to now, and that includes revisiting nightmares.
It’s still strange to me to write out that one’s mother was a source of nightmares. I’d be too ashamed to tell anyone that except here on this blog. She still plagues my mind in a dark way that isn’t normal and is outside most people’s experience when it comes to mothers. She never represented comfort to me but always a darkness and feelings of anxiety and apprehension.
Writing and telling others about these nightmares are the final death to them. I imagine there is something that can be a little stronger in my now for my telling them.
As a side (and lighter) note, the title “A Nightmare on Mom Street” occurred to me. It’d be funny only because it’d be so cheesy. You can thank me for quickly rejecting it.