I don’t have “normal” nightmares (whatever normal is). I’m never chased by drooling monsters or ogres. I don’t end up in a cannibalistic tribe at lunch hour. My nightmares, at least for the past three years, have been memories of things that have actually happened or realistic experiences creating the same feelings to arise as actual events that have happened.
Last night, I had one of these nightmares–not of one specific event that has actually happened, but more of a combination of several events and feelings I have had. I was at a sleepover. Of course. (If you haven’t read all my posts, I haven’t had a generally good experience with sleepovers–at least not until three months ago.) I was my current age–fourteen–but with the logic and reasoning of my ten-year-old self. Everything was going well at first. As time wore on, however, I began sensing that something was not quite right. Why was there so much hushed giggling? Why were the girls not interacting with me? How come every time I said something, all the guests would exchange glances and stifle laughter?
I knew, when I walked into the kitchen, that everything I’d feared was true. Two of the guests were whispering. “I know, right? It’s like, she’s such a freak. Nothing she does makes sense. Nobody cares about her.” Something broke in me at that moment. I whirled around, instantly in tears, and began screaming between gasps and sobs. “I was finally starting to accept sleepovers, but you ruined everything! How could you do this to me?!”
I’m not really sure how to explain it. There’s a certain feeling–like anger and hurt and fear all mixed into one–that makes you cry, scream, and tremble all at the same time. It’s the sort of cry that makes you drop to your knees right where you are and bury your face in your hands, afraid all your internal organs will spill out with the intensity of emotion being felt.
The more I cried, the happier the girls were–or, seemed. They laughed and gave me the “look.” I know that look so well. It’s a smile, but not really–not genuine or kind. It’s a smile that says “you are so stupid, it’s entertaining.” It’s a smile that mocks and lessens and diminishes confidence.
I turned around, hoping that somebody, anybody, would come to my side and fight for me. Nobody did. The other guests sat on their sleeping bags, wordlessly watching my pain unfold. I turned around and grabbed my bags, heading for the door. I could feel everyone’s eyes upon me, the silent waves of judgement, the laughter behind me that I could not face.
And that’s where the dream ended.
I must have cried in my sleep, because both my face and heart stung. I had a sense that I’d had a nightmare, but couldn’t remember it. Later, while I was staring at a wall, I remembered the entire dream out of nowhere. (Remembering things causes me to stare absently at a wall. If you see me staring at something for an extended period of time, I’m probably remembering something.)
Okay, I know this is a bit of a tangent, but please let me make something clear: you do not have to stay a party where people are hurting you. I’ve been to birthday parties where all the guests have laughed at me, used me, and rejected me, but I felt that it would be rude to leave. To this day, I wish I had just left. There is no reason to stay at a party where you are being bullied or pressured into doing anything. Please, call someone who will take you home. And if, for some reason, you can’t get a hold of anyone, remove yourself from the party. Go into another room. Play with the host’s younger brother. Do anything to disengage. It is not rude. It is not showing a lack of respect. You came to the party for your friend, but if she is mistreating you or failing to stick up for you when other guests are mistreating you, you have all rights to leave.
I just wanted to make that clear to everyone. I don’t want anyone to to go through any bad sleepovers and then have nightmares about them four years later.