Training day 35: in dreams

Man in straight jacketI had a nice little sit down chat with a military psychologist this morning. It was apparently in response to some paperwork I had filled out in the early days of DI school. I was one of fourteen Marines interviewed. Out of seventy-two.

The conversation dealt specifically with my disclosure of physiological and psychological “abnormalities” following both my tours in Iraq. And more specifically still… my dreams.

My dreams are of yet unpublished, but a few I’ve recorded in a “weathered, perforated notebook containing a dozen or so pages of hand written text from a different mindset“. Truth be told, my dreams scare me. They are of love and bliss, loneliness and heartache, rage and slaughter. They’re sex, isolation, and gore. Roughly translated, they’re raw, unchecked emotion. They are everything opposite of how I exist in the waking world.

The psychologist and I talked for quite some time about the specifics of my dreams. I explained they were always scenarios I had never been in and actions I would never take in real life. For example, getting hit by an IED as a convoy commander (which isn’t to far fetched, but wasn’t my mission on the last tour), seeing two vehicles exploding with my Marines in them, then wasting a half dozen hajjis who happened to be in the area when it all went down. That’s the PG version. When I awoke the next morning I could still feel the hate for those bastards and satisfaction I got from pulling the trigger until my magazine went dry. That scared me. I’ve had dreams of being separated from my unit with a few buddies, having to fight my way, hand to hand, back to friendly lines, smashing skulls and cutting throats the entire way. I could feel the blood gushing over my knife hand and down my arm, hot and sticky like syrup from the stove top. A blade makes a unique sound cutting through larynx. It’s no easy task. You have to saw through it.

These dreams were so damn real. Real enough to want to wash my hands when I’d wake soaked in sweat, disgusted by what my mind had conjured. My only solace was the fact the scenarios weren’t real, the people unknown, the actions abhorred. The psychologist seemed very surprised these dreams played out to the end and I carried out such horrendous acts without waking. That wasn’t normal, she said. Most people wake themselves up before the really bad shit happens. Obviously, I do not.

I’ve come to the conclusion (with probing assistance by the psychologist) I express the entire emotional spectrum through my dreams, all the best and worst, because strong emotions in the real world aren’t a luxury I allow myself. Her concern was if I had ever manifested the feelings of my dreams in outbursts such as anger, sorrow, or joy to such extremes where it could negatively affect my ability to train recruits in the future. I said I had not. At least I don’t think I have. It’s tough to say.

Admittedly, I was apprehensive in seeing the psychologist this morning. But I’m better off for it, taking away a few useful tools in dream interpretation and realizing that, although unusual, extreme, and abnormal in execution, my dreams do serve a purpose. They round me out, allowing me to express in sleep that which I dare not while awake. Let’s just hope I don’t start sleep walking.

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5 Responses to “Training day 35: in dreams”

  1. Klimas says:

    Jennifer Aniston wearing only earrings and dancing on a stripper pole, Salma Hayek lying on a deserted beach in Mexico around sunset begging for the capital K!, Giselle Bundchen bouncing off your waist to the beat of a 240 golf… think good things man

  2. Jayme says:

    Giselle Bundchen was a nice touch. You are hereby assigned as my purveyor of nice-nice dreams. The job pays squat but you’ll feel better about yourself after all these years of frat boy fun.

  3. Sara Kohler says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. You bring up a good, often forgotten point about our vets. Long after the fight is over, it continues on, only the battle is fought alone. You are not alone, you are surrounded in spirit by those who love you.

  4. Jayme says:

    I don’t believe I’m any less normal than the next guy (relatively speaking). I just happen to have some really f*cked up dreams from time to time. But yeah, it’s something overlooked by those who haven’t been through it. The key is not letting it screw you up.

  5. Sean says:

    As far as I’m aware, you’ve always had odd dreams.

    For example, in High School you told me about a dream… not to get to graphic, but there was you and Cindy Crawford and the phrase “went right out her back” comes to mind. Freak.

    p.s. Could you do me a solid and send me a copy of the picture of you, me, and Bates in the Metro? Muchos gracias.

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The author.Born in the year of the Dragon, the author grudgingly accepts the fact he has too many interests and not enough time. A cyclist as long as he can remember, an avid yet inconsistent writer since age eleven, and a U.S. Marine since age twenty-one, the author also adds peak bagging, diving, snowboarding, and computers to his list of interests. Incidentally, he is aware of his inability to make a living from any but the Corps. The author accepts this as fact and remains optimistic. Feel free to drop him a line.

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