I used to dream all the time.
Ever since I was an infant, my life was full of bad experiences.
Repeated and heavy abuse and abandonment had left me heavily immature and always feeling confused, worthless, and angry. The immaturity and feelings and problems snowballed, getting worse until I approached 20 and staying strong until I approached 30. I won’t go into details about all of it.
All these years I would dream heavily and strongly, when I was in emotional turmoil and things were unpredictable. Even sleeping at a strange time or in a strange position would almost guarantee a dream.
I would dream vividly, and remember the themes and events, even from a very early age. I would dream about control and escape and abandonment and anger and inadequacy and validation.
I was so proud of my dreams. I would tell people about them, and tell people what they meant to me, and what I learned from them, and how others could understand their own dreams.
Recently the turmoil began to die down, though I never stopped being me, or having these thoughts, or feeling so broken. Things became predictable.
I don’t dream anymore.
I used to draw and write.
From a very young age I would draw and write my feelings in the form of fiction. I would create a fictional baby or toddler, and that character would be me. There would be action and adventure, swords and oppressive kings, spaceships and cyborgs. And “baby me” would find a place in the middle of that world. I would be hurt and abandoned by it, and I would be rescued and loved and cared for.
The last time I ever saw my adoptive mother (who was the third person to be my legal guardian), I was about 18. I showed her some of my then current “graphic novel”, a work about a child (and later teen) angel whose father had killed his mother and then abused and abandoned him. He was rescued from a highway ditch by a woman stranger, who later adopted him. The teen– for some reason or another– had to fight his father with his angel powers.
I was never a very subtle person.
She commented about how it was good that I liked to draw, but wondered why my characters “had to be so ugly”. I finally stopped drawing then.
This adoptive mother would destroy all my creative works and punish me for drawing “unchristian” things such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Lilo & Stitch and The Legend of Zelda. She was very emotionally abusive and eventually abandoned me at a reform school when I was 15, and had no intentions of taking me back.
But I said I wouldn’t go into details about my life; and if I did, I’d be here all day.
I would think about drawing since then, fairly often. I began writing a novel, which has transformed into a new work half a dozen times– because I couldn’t get it to have all the themes I needed and still make sense. I wrote a lot of beautiful and powerful music for it, which I practice occasionally on piano. But I never drew again.
The writing though? A still-in-planning work that eventually became known as “The Solemn Dream”. It used to be a work about an adult who dreamed a super-lucid dream in which he was physically a toddler, and he renamed himself “Solemn”. He had been abused and abandoned all his life, and his new form and this new dream was his way to escape. To find family. To be loved and cared for. To learn how to cope with his existence, and how to heal– at least, as much as is possible given the circumstances. But he was a fighter, and he used powers and kung fu to fight off an undecided-upon science-fantasy evil.
“The Solemn Dream” would explore how dreams worked, what happened in them, and what they meant. It stated that you could understand your dreams to understand your feelings– and that you could use that understanding to better yourself.
I could never figure out how to make it all cohesive. To make it all make sense enough. It needed Solemn to be a baby, it needed action and villains, and it needed the world to work. I could never figure it out, and I was all alone in my efforts.
So I had to give up on that too– even though I keep coming back to it. That work of fiction is the truest part of me, and I feel obligated to make it happen– though I don’t know how.
Last night was Easter, and my biological brother was over. For the first time in a decade, I said grace in public. In a world full of uncertainties and undefeatable human failure, I gave God my respect. I’m never going to be totally sure God is even there. And then– because my family was over– I gave up on sleep so they could have a bed. I didn’t go to bed until they were awake at nine.
And so I didn’t sleep. And then I slept in until 3:00. My mind didn’t adjust well to this. It was once again a strange situation, and once again I dreamed.
I dreamed about drawings I had stored away in a folder on my PC. Fully-colored comics.
Each one of them featured a “baby me” again, something that looked like Solemn. It was clearly supposed to be a purer, more childish version. Two or three years old, in diapers and everything.
The comics were really good, better than I ever thought I could do. There was almost no text to read. It gave the idea through the images alone. Some of them were funny, some were very touching. It was very clear that each comic was about a child who had been hurt and was looking to connect to someone.
My dream reminded me that I have it in me to be that clever and to cut like a knife; but when I am awake I think too much, and that talent leaves me.
I want so much to be able to do in real life what I was able to do there. I know I could reach people that way. I know that if I had the talent and the clear head to do it, it would work.
But also in that dream, I was always looking over my shoulder. I was afraid of my housemate and others seeing my desktop. I was– I am– afraid of opening up full-scale. I’m afraid of people judging me for my immaturity, my vulnerability. I’m also a male, so I’m also afraid of people seeing my obsession with returning to early childhood– as well as seeing a collection of reference images so I can learn to draw “baby me”– as me being a pedophile. I worry enough as it is what people think of me.
I RP in Final Fantasy XIV. My character is a toddler there too, with some adult cognitive ability, and plans to allow him to engage in combat a little in the future. He had a rough life and he doesn’t age. People don’t understand me or him. I get denied membership in most groups. People judge first, and usually before even so much as speaking to me. It was the same for D&D, as I would try to play a very similar character. Some people tell me I should just play an adult, but those people don’t understand who I am and why I do what I do.
But I digress.
I don’t draw anymore.
I’m afraid I can’t devote the time to learning how to draw well, and that I can’t be talented enough to capture the complexity and emotion of my thoughts.
I don’t know if I have the answer. I don’t know if I could just start drawing again today. I can’t seem to find suitable resources to learn to draw better, and I don’t know if I could devote the time.
But I’m seriously thinking about it now.
I fear dying. I’m afraid all these thoughts and feelings and experiences will die with me. That I will never feel adequate, never have reached people, and never have connected.
I’m 30 in a few months. I think, maybe, that if I don’t find a way to share all of these things now, I never will.
If you’ve gotten to this point in this “story”, thank you. I feel like I talk too much and that a lot of the stuff I say is pretentious or poorly-stated. Maybe I’ve connected with someone today.
With that said, I don’t know what else to say. I don’t have the answers. I just needed to share this, to put it down somewhere so I would never forget.
May you find your way to a happiness and a sincerity that can be passed on to others. Happy existence to you all.