I usually love to sleep. It has always been an adventure for me. Sometimes I am able to direct and script my dreams. I meet very interesting people, do very interesting things, experience good feelings that I am not able to feel during waking hours. There are certain folks who have been in my dreams since I was a child. We have grown up together. I hold on to the belief that the real me is the me of my dreams. I have friends who respect me, trust me, enjoy me, love me.
Last night, instead of having one of my restorative and incredible dreams, I had a nightmare. The theme is a recurring one, also from my childhood, but except for my family, the players and situations are never the same. Perhaps this is also the real me, or at least a part of my illness.
As I said, the nightmare’s theme is basically the same. It is me against the world, literally. I see or observe or interpret something different than anyone else in the dream. I am the only one who gets it. I cannot understand how no one else experiences the events as I have. I consider myself intelligent, sensitive almost to the point of being an empathic being, and insightful. However, in these scenes of terror, I am always standing alone, against the rational thoughts and experiences of everyone else. I cannot convince anyone that my version of reality is the accurate perception. I know that a dreadful fate awaits me if I give up my truths.
The nightmare spills over into my waking hours more than the dreams ever have. I seem to be at odds with everyone, swimming upstream, trying to climb out of a pit while the rest of humanity at the bottom of the pit grabs onto my legs and tries to pull me back down. Self-righteous? I suppose to some extent. It is so real for me, though. Then I obsess that I must be wrong, my reality is not congruent with everyone else’s. That is insanity, is it not?
A former boss told me that the unnerving issue of being me is that I am like a 100 watt bulb in a 25 watt room. I get there before everyone else, do not try to explain how I got there, and leave others feeling that I am coming out of left field. The end result is that I am viewed as an agitator, a naysayer, a threat, and an individual out of touch. Would you be surprised if I told you I have always treasured that explanation as to why I put people off so universally?
It is not my imagination that I make others uncomfortable. I am at a loss when people react to me as they do, but this observation is not a manifestation of my mind. I have spent a lifetime trying to understand what I did or what I said that set someone off. All the someones… In an attempt to try and curb these negative and often hostile responses, I have analyzed myself throughout my life, on my own and with the help of therapists. I have carried a tape recorder with me and secretly recorded conversations and business meetings – in the living room, in the classroom, in the boardroom – hoping to figure out what I said at the moment it all went wrong. And it always goes wrong.
I keep coming back to the conclusion that the reaction has nothing to do with my words or even my tone of voice, body language, word choice, etc. People are reacting to something else about me, something I cannot identify and, therefore, cannot correct.