How to Stop a Reoccurring Nightmare?...Let it Happen in Real Life.
Does everyone have a reoccurring dream? I do. I have several. Mostly the dreams relate to school and missing a class, or not preparing for a test - often a math test. But one particular dream isn't about school. It's about calling for help.
Sometimes I shout out for help but my voice can't make a sound. Most often I'm calling 911 and it rings and rings and nobody answers. These reoccurring dreams are nightmares full of helplessness, frustration and deep based fear.
Last summer, I wasn't asleep or dreaming when a white BMW sedan with Jersey plates sliced between vehicles, dangerously cutting off our car. The BMW was speeding through the traffic forcing panicked brake lights to flare up its path. It wasn't just the aggressive thread-the-needle drive style I'm familiar with from the New York area. This was a sloppy reckless accident-waiting-to-happen driving style.
"I'm calling in on this guy," said my usually live-and-let-live husband.
"Don't bother, he's already gone," I said from the passenger's seat.
But my husband, while driving, squirmed to look for his phone that had fallen from the console.
"Here," I acquiesced and grabbed my phone, "I'll call."
I dialed 911 over the car speaker phone and it began to ring. Expecting a pick up in the first 3 or 4 rings, I lost track after about 15 rings.
There was something familiar about this waiting period - ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring...
"This is my nightmare!" I pointed towards the speaker, "Nobody picks up when I call 911! It's happening!"
"Just hang up," he reached over and ended the call.
"That's exactly how it goes in my dreams. It rings and rings."
We drove quietly for a minute. I was grateful that it was a small reason for the call, to simply report a reckless driver. My nightmares cry out for help for children drowning, horse barns burning, predators banging on doors... this was just an unanswered call reporting a obnoxious driver.
Just then my phone rang. Coming from a strange four digit code, 1-978, I picked up immediately.
It was a dispatcher calling me back to take my 911 emergency. I didn't understand. The dispatcher was calling me. Did they think I was a prank hang up? I told him we wanted to report a particularly dangerous driver but it's too late now - I told him thanks anyways and thanks for calling back. He didn't say goodbye though. Without negotiation or further small talk he requested I describe the vehicle and the behavior. I did and then, only then, the call was over.
"They called back! 911 called me back". Something deep in my psyche spontaneously settled. "I think my nightmare is over. That's not how I expected it to end."
After a momentary celebration, we changed the subject to talk about the wedding we were driving towards and left the 911 call in our rear view. But a few miles up the highway, unexpectedly, there it was: the BMW pulled over and a state trooper leaning into the driver side window. I imagined they were having a chat about safe driving. Maybe we weren't the only 911 call.
The dream hasn't reoccurred since. Reality was my remedy.