I woke sobbing this morning after a fitful sleep filled with nightmares. Not the kind where the monster with dripping fangs chases you like a scared rabbit through the set of a Hammer horror movie. Those are easily dealt with… wake, smile and turn over. Okay, possibly a quick glance under the bed, just in case… No, these were the nightmares of ‘what ifs’, the hidden fears and worries that seethe deviously below the surface of the mind until they find an outlet in dream.

I seldom have bad dreams these days. There was a time when the nightmare persisted, both in sleep and in the light of day, when reality itself was unrelieved by waking and the daily terror of opening my eyes brought worse fears than the night. It was a time followed by hope and worry, punctuated by flashbacks and questions to which each answer seemed more painful than the last. But those days have long ago slipped into the realm of memory and the rich well of experienced life, exorcised by achievement and laughter.

I could say I have no idea what caused the nightmares last night but I would be lying to myself. The trigger was my sons. Worry for one of them, who I dreamed was calling me in the middle of the night… a sure sign that something was wrong… and watching the other walk across a room at near normal speed… an astounding achievement in the face of the past eight years. Yet in spite of this, it opened the door of memory and resurrected old fears long dismissed but which left their scars on my heart and which, every so often, remind me of their presence.

Once the nightmare is in full gallop the vulnerability creeps in and all the other doubts and worries surface. All those what ifs that everyday reality holds. From the most mundane financial niggles, through the emotional fragilities to the health issues…. all the possibilities and unlikelihoods decide to play themselves out in a facsimile of reality on the cinema screen of dream.

It is the very plausibility of these nightmares that make them so heartrending and terrifying. In sleep we do not have the clarity of choice that we do when awake, nor do we have access to the strengths and experience that make us who we are. We are simply the victim of our own oft unspoken and unexamined fears and we wake in a fragile solitude, crying like a child in need of comfort.

But dreams, although they may dredge up and highlight the hidden agenda of our fears, are not the reality we face each day, nor are we as helpless when we are conscious as we are when caught in their toils. We can use those dreams and nightmares to find the roots of our fears…those deep-seated things from which we hide… and exorcise them, one by one. Even nightmares have their uses.

So in the cold light of day and over the third coffee, I call one son to make sure I was only dreaming and that he is okay. We talk for a while, because actually, he wasn’t… but he hadn’t called. Then I take out the nightmares and examine them.

With my whole being awake and aware I can see the flaws and inconsistencies in the dreams. I can turn and face those fears which have a foundation in reality and deal with them, admitting their presence and validity, admitting my own vulnerability, yet choosing to face them straight on, looking them in the eye so to speak, armed with a lifetime of experience and an arsenal of learned strength.

After all, what use is being awake if we choose to let the terrors of sleep rule our lives? The freedom of clarity can shine into the darkest corner of our fears and show that the monster lurking there was merely a shadow in the moonlight.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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46 Responses to Nightmares…

  1. I don’t have the fearful fanged nightmares I had when younger, but I have more of the anxiety nightmares. I think of them as worries transformed by sleep. You are very spot on in your analysis. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks for sharing sue …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Jones says:

    I’ve noticed I have recurring dreams when I am stressed, so it’s a sign to me that something is bothering me. I also have a city I visit regularly, I know my way around it so well. Those usually aren’t nightmares, though sometimes it’s scary. I agree that they are manifestations of our fears, and also perhaps something more. You heard your son calling, and it turned out he did need you… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand this piece and your fears completely, Sue. I have nightmares that I haven’t given Michael the correct medicine and that he might die during the night. I have been know to get up to go and try and work out what the omitted medicine is so that I can give it to him. ON these nights I invariably end up staggering back to my bed carrying my very hefty boy and keeping him with him so that I can be reassured he won’t die.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Adele Marie says:

    Well done, Sue. Hope you are feeling fine now. xxx


  6. KL Caley says:

    Wow, what an insightful dream Sue. I quite regularly suffer from nightmares, usually at more stressful times. I’m a great believer in what is meant to be is meant to be and clearly you were meant to call him. 🙂 Great Post, thanks for sharing your experience. KL ❤


  7. jenanita01 says:

    In the cold light of day we can fight our way out of the night’s fears, but I hate the feeling that lingers, that we might have missed something…


    • Sue Vincent says:

      The good thing about dreams is that we are working things out in our own minds… sometims, I think, with a little help…so even if our conscious minds do miss things, the seeds are still there, growing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Widdershins says:

    A certain small dog was right there for comforting cuddles. I have no doubt.


  9. That dream world is important. Often, I find myself resolving issues in dreams that I cannot handle in real life. Lessons to be learned.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I occasiionally have very vivid anxiety nightmares, and they are terrifying. It sounds as though you had some kind of instinct that your son needed you. Hope all is well xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It seems that we don’t know much about the science of dreams or ever will, and so they enter the realm of the mystical – a real force at work in our lives, however intangible. They do seem to be messengers, Sue, and are worthy of exploring for their bits of wisdom. I used to record my dreams in a notebook in the dark of night and read them in the morning. It was amazing how much I didn’t remember. It started to feel like I was living a double life at night 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      A dream diary is a standard part of magical practice to train that memory…and a very useful thing to do. They dissipate so quickly on waking unless they are captured straight away…and they always hold something of value to be learned.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I always find it helps when you can take some time to examine the potential meanings behind nightmares during waking hours.


  13. paulandruss says:

    My God Sue… I know this is a personal story and so much more affecting… but simply viewed as writing it is both wonderful and powerful…. The voice of the naked soul at it most raw and vulnerable reaches into each and everyone of us and resonates like the tolling of a great cathedral bell. As you said, it is not monster under the bed that truly terrifies us, it is the thought of loss and helplessness in the face of life’s apparent callous capriciousness. I always love your work but have been deeply moved by your recent posts.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Life is never callous nor capricious, in my view…though it certainly feels like it sometimes. All things have their purpose, even nightmares, real or dreamed. They all have something they can teach us if we are open to the lessons. x


  14. besonian says:

    Hi Sue – beautifully written, as always. I’m really sorry however that you have to go through things like this. I guess we all do at some time in our lives; however frightening they can be, nightmares are an aspect of living. And having said that, I think of your words – “Even nightmares have their uses”. I’d go further and say that the person experiencing nightmares is having a big amber light directed at them. The half-hidden fears they represent need to be brought right out into the open – as you’ve intimated – and closely examined in the cold light of day – even discussed with someone, if there’s someone to be trusted with such intimacies. The more we run from fear, the more power we hand to it. Turn and confront it, and it collapses into the chimera it really is; un-confronted, it distorts our everyday lives, impairing our judgement and our ability to be who we really are. Seen in that context, nightmares, despite their often frightening presentation, are benign warnings.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I agree with you on allpoints, Jeff. I would even say that, during the time when PTSD had me by the throat, being able to live out the terror in dreams may have saved my sanity and kept hope alive. Waing in the sure and certain knowledge that the night terrors were no more than my own fears made visible and drenched in enough gore for a Hammer movie, helped me keep the daily terors and vry real fears for my son in perspective.


  15. willowdot21 says:

    Often have nightmares, lately I am not sure which is worse the nightmares or being awake.💜🌹


  16. Jennie says:

    My goodness Sue, you wrote what most of us just shove under the carpet, or at least shove into the back of our minds. Misery loves company, for sure! Such a wonderful piece of writing. Thank you!


  17. Hugs. Been going through nightmares these past months, first with the car accident and now with storms.


  18. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Sue’s thoughts on nightmares.


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