When I was young I used to have terrible nightmares. They would wreak havoc on me as I woke up screaming, willed myself to die in a dream just so I could wake up. It got to the point where I not only became afraid of the dark, I’d fear falling asleep too. I’d do anything I could to stay awake, read books with a flashlight under the duvet…stay up texting…listen to music until I would eventually pass out from exhaustion. The darkness too was a no no, my bed the only safe space. I used to dread the duty of switching off the lights, as I found myself sprinting to my sanctuary before anything could grab.
I was gifted and cursed with an over active imagination. I didn’t have imaginary friends or anything like that, but it was a struggle to separate what was real compared to something I may have dreamed. Did this happen to me, or was this a character in a book? Was this a memory or just a remnant of a nightmare?
From puberty onward, these fears translated into second guessing myself and has remained with me since. It’s something I battle with and have actively worked to be mindful of. I guess that’s why I keep a diary and write creatively – to separate the fact from fiction.
Imagine having a memory that you know you have experienced to the infinite percent. You are so sure. This is your truth. Now imagine being told you are a liar for it – it didn’t happen. You are still sure, yet…you cannot help but doubt yourself. That’s the funny thing about memories – what is so critical and resonates with you doesn’t necessarily apply to those who experienced that same moment, in fact one instance to you which fundamentally shifts your perspective could be next to irrelevant or non-existent to the other participant.
The problem with being forever branded a liar about your experiences leads to two situations. Firstly, the doubt you feel… suddenly you question your sanity, is this a delusion? The torment comes from knowing what you know to be true, but a similar voice of reason saying it cannot be possible. This leads to the second problem, that one moment when you finally get through and receive a moment of belief, when someone believes you… how real is that? How candid was that moment – or perhaps it was another delusion… made up things in my head.
As someone who has dealt with many insecurities I can honestly say my memory for every nasty, over-the-line, and hurtful conversation far outweighs my memory storage of happier times. It’s just how it works. Ingrained into me disgusted looks, and off-hand comments – comments that may not be memorable but shattered me.
If someone approached me about something I allegedly had said – my first comments would be questions. When did I say this? What was the context? If it still doesn’t ring a bell, I’d say so and try to understand why this person may feel I have wronged them…Why would I do that? Because I know I have many faults, many flaws and sometimes I do say callous things. It is not outside the realm of possibility that I may have hurt someone badly by my words or actions.
I keep thinking about how happy I’ve been with consistency in my life. People around me I know to be true. Working with the facts I have at my disposal. I am not in a position to have to second-guess my truth. I act on what I know, and I’m starting to trust what I feel. The point is I have my facts, and others have their fiction… but it’s the same story. And I’m not about to start doubting my sanity again, not after all the hard work I did ensuring that nightmares stay in the darkness.