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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Lin Peterson-Hilleque

Nightmares, Instagram filters, and Other Good Things

Updated: Jun 30, 2020


I drove my kids to school like this. It’s not uncommon. No one usually sees me, although the neighbors might be out on the back deck having breakfast. It’s possible a random teacher could walk by my car as the kids go into school, but so far that hasn’t happened with a teacher that I know. People really don’t look at each other very often anyway, I tell myself. (Oh, and perhaps you are admiring my fancy filter use in this selfie. I am experimenting on Instagram to doctor up photos for blog posts. Why not! It’s 2016. Let’s enjoy it, with amateur filter use and all!)

Last night I had at least three terrifying nightmares. I don’t remember the first one. During the second one, there was an avalanche in my bed. I had to jump out to save myself while clutching at the side of the bed and trying to drag my husband out. I truly thought he was lost to me for forever before his hand grabbed mine, and he told me everything was OK. I argued with him, as I often do in this state, that everything was not fine (because he was sinking in an avalanche people). Once I woke up all the way and realized he was right, I crawled back into bed and mercifully fell back to sleep instantly.

In the third nightmare, I was on fire. In the dream, I managed to put it out without too much harm (which is a kind of progress) except my hands were really damaged, barely recognizable or functional. Once again, my husband kindly tried to tell me everything was ok (because I was probably yelling and thrashing around a lot), but I was convinced otherwise. It wasn’t until I was in the bathroom, bathing my destroyed hands in the sink, that I woke up enough to realize everything really was fine. Sometimes I weep in relief to wake up from these dreams. My husband says that’s the worst part, listening to my relieved weeping. But how could I not weep, my hands were Ok and my husband was alive.

For years, I had the same nightmare that I was setting off nuclear war–over and over, night after night. So I actually appreciate the variety in my nightmares now. I think they show developmental progress. Of course, I’d prefer not to have nightmares at all, but I don’t have much say in that. (I do not have them nearly as much as before. Woot! Yay, mindfulness training!) Yesterday, I read an article, perhaps in the Huffington Post, although I accessed it on FB, about the fact that research is showing happy people don’t repress or avoid difficult emotions; they face them and choose to focus on the good in their life. The research the article was based on suggested that we aren’t really biologically wired to focus on the good stuff in life, but if we make an effort to do so, there’s a big pay off in being happier. The article articulated some other sophisticated things about the amygdala that I can’t exactly remember and probably aren’t germane to my point anyway. (Yeah, I’m just too lazy to try to look the article up now. Do your own google search on it if you wish. This is just a blog with low standards ;)

So here’s the good news for me to remember: My nightmares aren’t bad. They aren’t signs showing that I am helplessly broken. They are my teachers. I can learn from them. I can face whatever fears they represent and overcome them. And in the meantime, I can enjoy the good things in life, including the fact that I have Instagram filters to gussy up my ridiculous morning hair.

Love to you all today. May you vanquish all your demons and post glorious selfies documenting it in social media along the way!

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