I had a hell of a time falling asleep when I got sober three years ago. I blame it on all the GHB. Yes, I used to give myself the date-rape drug in order to pass out every night. Unfortunately nobody ever took advantage of me. At least not that I remember. In fact, I’ve always been a little incredulous at the date-rape stories, since GHB has such a nasty, putrid, abhorrent taste that I wonder how even a cocktail could mask the flavor. But I’ve never tried it, you see, because I was a smart drug addict; I never mixed GHB and alcohol. That would be dangerous. But I was willing to gulp it down nightly for a few months. Unfortunately it would wear off a few hours later, necessitating another dose. I even went so far as to keep a small cup on my bedside table, thereby allowing me to stay in bed while I swigged away. Normal people keep a glass of water at bedside, but let’s face it, that’s just boring.
Then I got sober, and lay awake for hours each night. My body’s chemistry was anxious and frustrated, and I wanted to be such a good boy that I swore off Tylenol P.M., which I had used often in the past to come down from crystal meth. That first year also featured a long, tedious journey through the cycles of three or four anti-depressants, each of which further upset the balance.
I tried warm milk. I tried calcium and zinc at bedtime. I refrained from reading in bed, heeding experts’ advice to keep the bed all about sleeping. I listened to my boyfriend’s peaceful snoring as he slumbered away. I thrashed about, forever twisting my pillow one way or another, searching for a cool spot I could press against my cheek. Staying asleep was never the problem, unfortunately. You see, once I did finally fall asleep my body wouldn’t settle for less than eight hours, and so each fitful, passing minute meant another minute I’d lose in the morning before work.
It took awhile, but eventually I found the right combination of anti-depressant and melatonin that would reliably bring me sleep. I even discovered that one 3mg tablet of melatonin left me too groggy the next day, so every few days I’d cut a handful of tablets in half, as if I was making lunch for the rest of the week. And like a child clutching his teddy bear I’ve stayed true to this combination, if only to ward off the memories of my insomnia.
Maybe it was the New Year, or just curiosity, but for the past week I stopped taking the melantonin. And now, all of a sudden, my dreams have returned. I didn’t even realize that they were missing, or muted, as the case may be. I just forgot that I was someone who used to remember his dreams.
I don’t know if I’ve always dreamed like this, or if my subconscious is throwing an after-hours party in celebration of melatonin’s departure. But my dreams are big, colorful, Fellini excursions into love, violence, and high anxiety. I dreamed that I fell madly in love, that we moved in together, and that I promptly lost the keys to the house. I dreamed that a very threatening man was dedicating his life to killing me, and that he tried numerous methods, each attempt more intense and destructive than the last. And like Lara Croft I kept coming back to life and trying increasingly desperate measures to escape, only to cross yet another tripwire connected to explosives. I dreamed of the main character of a novel I’m constructing in my head, following him on the subway, noting the loneliness he wore like a thin coat. I dreamed I sat on the shore of an enormous lake, and the sky was filled with brightly-colored aircraft of man-made design, each of them a wild sculpture of unlikely flight. And throughout each dream was a common atmosphere of fate; a life-or-death seriousness, where my emotions ran to extremes that feel unfamiliar when I’m awake.
I wake frequently between snatches of dreams, sometimes returning to the same story in my sleep, sometimes falling into an unrelated tale. I wake later each morning, not quite rested. And yet I don’t want to go back to the muted, heavy sleep. I never gave much weight to dreams, and I’m still unsure about their meaning, but lately I’m fascinated by them. It may be my friendship with Prometheus, who has introduced me to some of Jung’s work. It may just be that I am bored and looking for meaning in every available subconscious image. But it’s amazing, to me, that my head puts on such a show every night, all by itself. Now if I can just find those housekeys.