Abuse-Nightmares and Sleep Disturbances (Tornados, Elevators and Sharks)



Do you have abuse-nightmares?

Whenever I would begin painting a new painting dealing with my abuse, it would never fail, I would wake up with nightmares about tornados, broken elevators or sharks.

A typical tornado dream for me would be: Me, living alone with my two cats. I would be running around my house, looking out the windows, seeing a tornado out every window.

The house would be shaking and the tornado would be coming straight for my house! I would be trying to catch my cats to keep them safe but they would run away from me. Every room I would run into would have a tornado outside the window getting closer and closer..the house would rock and start to pitch..and then I would wake up in a sweat!!

I would laugh and tell my friends I was having one of my "tornado" abuse-nightmares again. My friend would jokingly say "Oh, so your painting again huh!"

My elevator abuse-nightmares would be: Me getting on an elevator at a shopping center or hotel and all of a sudden, the elevator would break. We would be hanging suspended in the air, about 200feet off of the ground with just a small rail to hold on to..then again, I would wake up in a sweat.

Lastly, my shark Nightmares. These would vary...sometimes I would be in a boat on the ocean and I couldn't see in the water but I could see shark fins all around me..knowing that there were hundreds of sharks there and I couldn't get away.

Sometimes, I would actually see part of the sharks below the surface.

Later in my recovery, I would see all of the sharks, but sometimes I could get away and sometimes I couldn't. It was a crapshoot. I never knew when I would or wouldn't get away. Yes, you guessed it, another sweat filled night of little sleep.

Many women start to have sleep disturbances when they begin art-therapy., as in any kind of therapy that starts an emotional process.

It is common to have dreams or abuse-nightmares that deal with loss of control, as is seen in all of my scenerios. The dreams may or may not directly on the surface have anything to do with your abuse..but under the surface, you bet they do!

Some women have nightmares where they feel suffocated or are chased or are being abused all over again. I certainly have had my share of "being chased" dreams!

I believe that you can use your dreams to your benefit. If you wake up in the middle of the night, as I did, write down what your dream was about before you go back to sleep. If you are able to sleep til morning, then write it down then.

I would then, rather than analyzing what the dream is all about, write down the overall feeling that you have from the dream. Do you feel weak? sad? afraid? Whatever the feeling, write it down. Don't worry if you are unable to remember the content of your dreams., the feeling you feel when you wake up is most important.

What I noticed, was a change in my dreams and a change in my overall wake up feeling as I worked through feelings about paintings. My dreams changed and my feelings changed.

If you have difficulty falling asleep, try some relaxation techniques or meditation as we discussed earlier in the "Meditation" section. Try cutting out the caffeine early in the evening or afternoon. Take a warm, relaxing bath prior to bedtime. Use your Sacred Space to relax.

If your dreams have made you afraid or upset, leave a small light on for awhile if you need it. Get a stuffed animal and sleep with it. Comfort your little abused girl. Play some soft music as you go to sleep. Listen to Delilah! (I did that for awhile to fall asleep.)

Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable and safe. Safety is the key. If you are not feeling safe inside, you will not sleep soundly.

When I lived alone, I made sure my friends knew where I was all of the time for my own safety. When I felt safe, I could sleep better. All of us share the abuse issue of safety.

Insomnia is also possible when dealing with abuse. There is a fear of going to sleep for fear of remembering the abuse. If you are at a stage where you are feeling a lot of pain and you are afraid of going deeper. This is understandable. Again, safety is the key. Sleep is a necessary part of life. Our bodies need it to survive and if we don't get it, we react in all sorts of strange ways. We can even have hallucinations from not sleeping. That is why there is a need to sleep.

A sleep aid,such as an herb or medication may be necessary temporarily if you can't sleep. See your physician if this is necessary. Just remember, things will get better. Recovery is a process and it is always changing. You will make it through. Many of your sisters have gone before and so will you!

Nightmares are not real.

You made it through the real abuse.

Keep that in mind my friend.

God bless you and sleep well.

From Nightrmares page return to Art-Therapy page.

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Go to Meditation page from abuse-nightmares page.