No Comfort in Sleep

Man, I had the worst dream last night. Or maybe the second worst. Anyway, heads up, faithful manateans — this isn’t a typical light-hearted or funny post, so feel free to hit the ejection button. Things will definitely be more light-hearted in the next post.

One thing I have noticed is the older I get, the less I seem to dream, which is okay with me since I need a solid night’s sleep and don’t need anything unsettling (Ooo, I need to post about the night terrors I used to have *scribbles a note*). Anyway, I used to have vivid dreams all the time when I was young — even the occasional lucid dream. Some were pleasant like flying or exciting like winning the lottery (okay, that one actually kind of sucked when I woke up), but the ones I tend to remember the most are the anxiety-inducing ones — which pretty much sums up my personality and existence, I guess.

Last night’s dream put me through the wringer. Here’s how it unfolded.

The dream


My family lives in the room — it’s our home, but unfamiliar because I have never seen it before. Yet, instinctively, I knew it was home. Strangely, it had no furniture. I paced the floor because my brother, Kevin, had gone missing, out on a bender. Fearing the worst, I called the police desperately trying to find if they had any information on his whereabouts, but they didn’t. I pressed the officer to double check, and I could hear him talking to someone over a radio and a voice replying, but the words were garbled and hard to make out. But it sounded like they told him they’d found something. Dreading the response, I kept at the officer to tell me if it was my brother, and he said something indistinct. So I asked again, and he replied they’d found a body. Is it him? I demanded. He didn’t want to commit but finally said they were certain it was my brother, but he had no ID.

Hanging up, crying uncontrollably, I told my dad, who was suddenly there (dreams are terrible with continuity — people just pop in and out all the time), that Kevin was dead and upset, my father left the building. My mom was locked in the bathroom, and I could just see the light under the door, but for some reason, I couldn’t tell her.

Not knowing what to do, I went outside to find my dad, but he had disappeared (stupid continuity). I hunted around in vain. Distraught, I went back into the apartment. When I opened the door, my breath caught because there stood my brother, alone, in the center of the unfurnished living room, standing in profile and staring off. Smartly dressed, healthy, and in his prime. Relieved and elated, I went to him and told him we’d thought he was dead. My brother apologized for upsetting everyone. Feeling guilty at spreading false information, I immediately wanted to tell my dad, but I had no way of getting hold of him (he never owned a cell phone). And my mom was still behind the bathroom door.

Kevin and I walked down to the parking lot, and he told me he was moving away to Oregon with a friend, who suddenly appeared next to me (I recognized him but not really because I didn’t know him). My brother tossed a bottle of some kind of alcoholic athletic drink (which doesn’t really exist) into a convertible he never owned or drove. I told him he had to take care of himself but he ignored me and kept putting stuff into the car. I wanted to tell him not to move but to stay, but he wasn’t listening (he rarely did). He mentioned some app that helped you locate the drink you want if it’s not available in full measure (I have no idea what that meant — it was a dream though), but it was the last thing he said to me. Frustrated, I replied I wasn’t interested in drinking.


And then the dream faded out.

It’s odd when you wake to realize that you’ve been boohooing real tears in your sleep. It threw my morning off.

Why this dream?

I have to admit, I hate dreams where dead relatives are alive again — and this one had three of them. It’s not that I’m unhappy to see them; quite the contrary. But in a dream they’re so alive that it’s cruel when they have to go — it’s almost like losing them and mourning again.

Even worse, if I wake and believe the dream. For that tiniest fraction of a second, there is that almost tangible joy and relief followed by the slow, spirit-breaking realization that it was nothing but a dream.

Why did my brain tell itself this story? I dunno. Who knows what’s going on in my subconscious? Some people will think the dead spoke to me. If so, I’d be interested in what their message was?

My little brother killed himself coming up on three years ago, so I have had a similar conversation with the police and bawled my eyes out at the time. At the time, it felt like someone had dropped the entire world on my head.

I spent so much time worrying about him over the years and his addictions that finally when he’d been clean for all that time, to lose him to depression felt like a crushing defeat. Maybe I’d been thinking of him because I’ve been struggling to write about our lives or maybe subconsciously I knew that his anniversary is coming up in a couple of months, I don’t know.

The apartment/hotel room

Interestingly, in the dream, I was the only living person in the apartment. My sister is my only immediate family member still alive, so that’s probably why she didn’t appear in my dream, maybe? Our beloved mother died almost twenty years ago. I had a similar dream after she died where she was alive. In my dream, I woke to find her in the living room and the heartbreak when I really woke to find it wasn’t true. I tried turning that dream it into a short story I posted here (I don’t think it’s that good, so I need to rework it).

She spent so many years trying to help my brother — it was so frustrating for her to not be able to solve his problems with a mother’s love. Maybe that’s why she appeared in this dream, but I never saw her and she never spoke — I just had a fleeting impression of her face hidden behind the locked door.

My dad has been gone these past seven years. He too always worried about my brother (well, both of us). I don’t know why I couldn’t find him in my dream to tell him everything was all right. Maybe because he died before my brother?  Or possibly because everything didn’t turn out all right in the end?

It’s curious, that the hotel room was our home. Why that hotel. We did live in a motel for a month when I was nine while we waited for housing to open up on the airbase. But more likely it was because my brother took his life in a hotel and we were there in that empty room trying to save him, but he left without us.

Peaceful oblivion

Anyway, I could deal without dreams for a while. Or at least go back to the repetitive ones where I’m trying to escape the Nazis or I’ve committed a crime and everyone is after me and I can’t escape. Something a bit more relaxing and less hard on the soul.


Image by Olle August from Pixabay

Image by Harut Movsisyan from Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

17 thoughts on “No Comfort in Sleep

    1. Sean D. Layton

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Yes, I’ve written a bunch of disjointed material over the years. I’ve tried to string it together into a book, but I’m kind of floundering. I may be trying to include stuff that doesn’t belong. But we’ll see. I just need to forge ahead rather than sitting there fretting over it and doing nothing.


  1. My dreams are usually very abstract, but my daydreaming is often strangely accompanied with a lot of emotion. I sometimes wonder what I’d do when all my loved ones are gone. So, I know how difficult it is to deal with bouts of heart wrenching emotion. And when it’s accompanied with images from your past (or future) it’s even tougher. This is a great post! I left another comment on that touching tribute you wrote for your father. I think it landed in spam.


    1. Sean D. Layton

      Thanks! I worried about my dad dying ever since I was five. My mother’s death and then my brother’s death both came as shocks and left me feeling unmoored. I’m what I term a sociable introvert — I like hanging out by myself but getting together in small groups, but the thought of being truly alone freaked me out. I’ve thought about moving to be nearer to extended family. My closest family is 2000 miles away, so hard to just pop in for a visit.

      I’ll check out you comment — it’s weird how sometimes people who have commented in the past end up in spam occasionally.


      1. I’m extremely introverted. I can only deal with one person at a time! I’m also jobless, irresponsible and have bipolar disorder. I’m so reliant on my beautiful mother who cares for me. In India, the stigma is deep, and nobody wants me around. So, I just take one day at a time, I guess. It’s all I can do.


    2. Sean D. Layton

      Well, Nitin, I checked and Spam is empty. Weird, I’m not sure what happened to your comment as you are an approved commenter. Damn you, WordPress!


      1. Yes, damn you WP indeed. One of my plugins made my site crash today! It was annoying as hell trying to rectify the damn thing. I don’t know coding! I finally just disabled the plugin


    3. Sean D. Layton

      Somehow I missed one of your comments. Yes, I suffer from anxiety which has definitely complicated my life (there may be other stuff, but who knows), but you’ve got a heavy burden you carry, my friend. I’m sorry you live in a culture that still stigmatizes mental health issues. Don’t get me wrong, American culture still stigmatizes it depending on who you deal with, but it’s gotten a lot better of the years, but still, care for the mentally ill is terrible and our streets are littered with broken souls.


  2. Normally I’m not big on dream analysis, but there’s a ton of deep shit in this one. Or it could just be the mind hitting rewind and reset and you just caught glimpses of the tape…


  3. Sean D. Layton

    Yeah, not quite sure what was going on with this one. I prefer the one I had a few months ago where a giant guinea pig named Rupert was running amok like a bull in a china shop.


  4. Lisa Porter Cordovana

    This one made me cry. You’re a fantastic writer, Sean. It reminded me of something I saw recently. Marijuana, alcohol, opiates are not gateway drugs. Depression, anxiety, bad childhood experiences are the gateway drugs. I agree.


    1. Sean D. Layton

      Thanks, Lisa. I would agree that often people self-medicate with those drugs to deal with other underlying issues that are never treated.


  5. Sometimes dreams suck. Sometimes I see someone I’ve lost touch with, and when I wake up and realize they’re not there it feels bad. Or I have these anxiety dreams where I have to do something fast and it doesn’t work and I’m running out of time.

    Other times I had some useful dreams though, where I found an answer to a question. These are really great.


    1. Sean D. Layton

      I love useful dreams. Or sometimes I think they’re useful, like for a great storyline, but I forget the details before I can write them down (so maybe not so useful!)


      1. I have the same problem with dreams that could be story material — I forget them. But the dreams that answer a question are a different sort. Once I was looking for a word to use in a translation. It’s obsolete, so no wonder I couldn’t remember it. That night I saw I was in a library, opening books. In one of them I found the word I was looking for. That was great!


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