Last night I had the most horrifically realistic nightmare. I was walking around my neighborhood – sometimes I was me as I am now, sometimes I was a child – and I suddenly became aware of an army of Terminators trying to annihilate me. Somehow I got information that they’d invaded the Earth and were killing everyone. They weren’t the Arnold variety, but the metal frames left after his skin melts off, the ones with the red lights for eyes. I started to run for home.
I got to the house to find someone had planted a Terminator under a trapdoor in my front yard near where I recently put in a new hydrangea. It jumped out as I came up my walk. I was sure I was done, but it started shooting the other robots that were chasing me. It was my own Terminator, there to protect me (how sad that my subconscious so closely follows a James Cameron plot). I ran in the house and started shooting at the machines with some laser guns (handy). I ran up to the second floor and shot right through the windows (apparently these lasers could go through glass without breaking it. Ah, dreams). The Terminator and I beat them back and I felt safe enough to go about my business.
The next day, I went to school and on my walk home, the Terminators started chasing me again. I was scared, but I also kept telling myself that when I got home my Terminator would help me.
I ran up my walk and there he was, but as I started to feel the relief of finding my protector, I saw that he was taking aim at me. I understood (in dream logic) that the Terminators had turned him back to their side. The protection had been only an illusion. Even the things you think will save you ultimately help sink you and there’s no safety anywhere.
I woke up in a raging panic, sure that an invasion was imminent, my heart beating so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. It was similar to something that felt like a panic attack on a plane recently. (Could I seriously be developing this problem at this old age without any history of it whatsoever?!?). I was alone downstairs – I sleep near the front door so I can watch it now – and feeling a crushing darkness that nothing would ever feel okay again, that I would never get to sleep again. Deep breaths and a little bit of HBO helped calm me down. It took an hour, but I fell back asleep. This morning I woke up feeling completely depleted.
What to do? How to feel safe again? No idea. I keep trying to remind myself that feelings are good, fuel for stories, but sometimes I wish I could turn them off for a while.