Nightmares & Shadows

“Your nightmares follow you like a shadow, forever. ”
― Aleksandar Hemon

I thought the sirens were never going to stop. Thankfully they stopped when I was too sleepy to stay awake any longer. Weather in Oklahoma is something I grew up with. We had a cellar and all the old ladies nearby came to wait out the storms inside it.

I know it was safe, but what a scary place. Dark and dank. Lanterns held high. Waiting out the ubiquitous storms that are always a part of spring here. Hoping the daddy long leg spiders would not walk across my legs.

Last night I read while the wind howled and thunder quaked and the rain came down in torrents.

In preparation, I surrounded the ceramic bird bath with big pots of plants, rolled my Japanese maple onto the back step under the overhang in case of hail, and took down my bamboo chimes. That was the full extent of my “battening down the hatches.”

This morning I looked out on the patio and not one thing was damaged. Disaster averted. Plants all looked fine.

Today it is gray outside and rain is expected. I don’t know if more bad weather will ensue.

I’ve become accustomed to my routine of getting all the chores done, supper eaten, pets fed, shower taken, and then settling down with a book for the evening. The only sound is the machine that sounds like rain next to my bed, Charlie snoring, and Ivy playing.

It amuses me that when we have rain or even an inch of snow, people out on the roads inch along like we’re in the midst of a blizzard. Yes, I drive an old 4 wheel drive SUV, but even if I didn’t, I am not afraid of a bit of rain. I don’t slow down to a snail’s pace because the road is wet.

Traffic piles up because people seem to be afraid of driving their vehicles in wet weather. In a city this size that can become a bit of a nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares, I had a doozy of a nightmare last night. I really don’t recall much about it this morning. What I remember is being afraid. Of course my ex was in it, because for the past few decades he has typically been the main lead in my nightmares.

The man is dead. There’s really no reason to be afraid of him anymore. I keep telling myself that. Chiding myself for giving him space in my head. But I guess he may drift through my dreams, a silent specter, a premonition, from here on out.

Because he loomed large in my life for such a long time. And because I let him in.

I look back and ask myself why. Why did I fall for all that no one will ever love you like I do garbage?

Well, because no one had ever given me that much attention. I was so open to being handed that generous display of supposedly forever love. And too vulnerable to understand that nothing is free.

I recall telling myself: Now look, self, this is really too good to be true.

But what hungry for attention and love woman can resist all that? It seemed like such a miracle to finally be noticed and coddled and supposedly cherished. I thought: This is my moment in the sun. Because he seemed to worship the very ground that I walked on.

What I didn’t understand is that there is love. And then there is obsession.

Love is good. Obsession is dangerous.


“My sleep wasn’t peaceful, though. I have the sense of emerging from a world of dark, haunted places where I traveled alone.”
― Suzanne Collins

Isn’t it amazing how fast you can immerse yourself in a situation where all the barriers come down and you find yourself trapped within?

He’s gone now, but the memories are not. Smells and sounds can take me to a place much like that cellar where daddy long legs lived. Where I thought the danger was outside that big heavy door as storms caused destruction.

I was once a little girl who waited out the storms among neighbors in a dark dank cellar. And feared that the daddy long legs might crawl right up my legs.

I was a little girl who vowed never to let anyone all the way in. To never trust anyone that much, because what you give they take. And then they can break you into a million pieces.


“Strange, I thought, how you can be living your dreams and your nightmares at the very same time.”
― Ransom Riggs

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28 Comments

  1. What you experienced is “normal”.in each of those situations. I had a dream about my husband last night. He died forty seven years ago. Since then I have lost two others. It is my first that I think and dream about. They are good dreams.

  2. So glad to hear you are safe and sound Brenda and I also gave a thought to your garden in the awful weather Oklahoma is having right now. Happy to hear that survived.

  3. OH BRENDA, I’M SO RELIEVED THAT YOU ARE OK……AND TO HAVE NO DAMAGE IS WONDERFUL!!!!

  4. As a child I would see the movie the Wizard of Oz and wonder what it must be like to hide from a storm. In NY we don’t experience storms like that and just stay inside during a blizzard when we use to get them. It’s hard to imagine the fear that must go with noises and banging and listening while down in a cellar. It would haunt me I am sure all my life so I am grateful I live where I do.

  5. Brenda,
    The more I read your blog, the more I relate to your experiences. I suppose many of your readers share your introspection and your sensitive nature too.
    Glad you are all safe.

  6. I agree with Carol, above. Your writing is splendid – it brings us “there.” I was right with you in that dank shelter, and then again in the safe coziness of your cute apartment with Charlie and Ivy. As long as you are nearby, they have no reason to fear the chaos outside the door!

  7. Could you blog about the drainage you are using in all of these metal containers?
    thanks. m

  8. I was so worried about you and your babies yesterday. I’m glad you at least prepped the patio and protected some of the plants. Better safe than sorry. Do you know the name of the bush in the first picture with the white flowers? I see them all over and want to buy one but need to make sure I’m buying the right thing.

  9. I remember a few times, both as a child and as an adult, when tornados were forecast or sighted in my area. It is a scary feeling anticipating one of those twisters touching down. When I had my dog, Tavi, he would not go down the basement stairs, so in the event of a storm warning we just huddled together in the hallway in the middle of my house. I said I’d stay with him, no matter what. Especially since he was so frightened of thunder or loud storm sounds. That only happened a couple of times and the storm always passed leaving us safe and sound. I’m glad that your storm didn’t do damage to you or your little house and also your beautiful plants.

    My heart aches for you having had such an abusive relationship and the subsequent fearful nightmares. I have had a few scary dreams in my life but nothing like what you describe. I have sad, heart-wrenching dreams more than those where I am terrorized. Interestingly, though, as I was reading the part of today’s post where you talk about your ex-husband’s initial adoration and professions of loving you better than anyone else ever could, I was reminded of how my ex-husband was somewhat like that in the beginning of our relationship–very doting and solicitous of my well-being. It didn’t last. How could it? It unbalances a relationship and if not dealt with and changed I think the relationship cannot last in a healthy way. Anyway, just an interesting insight regarding some of the negative aspects of the relationship. It should have been a red flag, but I was too needy to realize it’s significance. Now, it’s just hindsight–too late to have changed anything.

    Take care, Brenda. Hope you have some lovely, calm and sunny weather the rest of the week.

  10. Seems bad weather is a lot of places..glad you and your babies are safe and all your beautiful patio is intact. You are a powerful writer…… Thank you for sharing, as we all have our childhood memories to bear…and some are pleasant..but probably most all have some that are not….please know you are not alone. Peace be with you….

  11. Loved everything you wrote today. Very thought provoking. I was wondering if you ever hear from the nurse that was getting away from her husband? I’m sorry I don’t remember her name, but she was in dire straits for awhile. She did move away and got a job so I was just wondering if you had any updates. You helped her out a lot so I hope she is doing well. Thanks so much for all you do.

    1. She’s actually commented on this post. But I am not going to out her because I spoke of her with a made up name and she deserves anonymity.

  12. How were your pets during the storm? Frazier gets absolutely frantic if there’s thunder. I like a storm, it’s cozy as long as there’s no damage or injuries or worse. As far as those nightmares – just like you can feel the sting of a failed romance from many years ago and it comes back to you in dreams, the same and maybe even more so of the abuse. What a relief it must be to know he can never truly come back to hurt you again.

  13. Glad you and everyone else in your complex is safe along with all the flowers! My routine is exactly like yours and I look forward to the evening when I can read! lol

  14. I thought about you last night when I checked the radar and saw what it looked like over Tulsa. Glad to hear you came through it okay! Also, I’m still searching for some of those ruffled purple petunias here. They are just gorgeous!

    Sherry in Little Rock

  15. So thankful you and the fur babies are safe and you had no damage! According to the morning news, Oklahoma was hit hard. Your flowers are gorgeous! I especially like the yellow petunias with the touch of dark purple.

  16. Your writing is amazing! What a gift! You really know how to take the reader “there”.

  17. Powerful feelings here, Brenda. It is good to get them out and, hopefully, let them go. I have a couple of recurring “bad dreams”,too, where I am searching for something in a dark, scary place. Weirds me out every time.
    Have a wonderful night. xo Diana

  18. Glad you are safe! I don’t comment here much, but I love how you write and the things you say. You make such a difference in this world. I hope you know that!

  19. Give you folks a lot of credit for keeping it together in the threat of those storms,I’d be a panicked,shaky good for nothing,heck,our thunderstorms up here upset me,hubs used to say I made the doggos nervous.
    I lost my dad at 14 and the years following were tumultuous,I married a man 17 years older, very controlling,always needed to be right…he’s been gone now,13 years and I know I had put him on a pedestal,given much time to look backwards,it was hardly the happy union I convinced myself it was.
    Good to hear you and the furkids were safe and sound!

  20. I’m so glad you came through the storm with no damage ~ I immediately thought of you when I saw the forecast y’day morning, and again watching the flood rescues this AM.
    Did your babies react to it?

  21. Fear is a powerful memory. I have a haunting feeling sometimes. Once I actually smelled him near me, though he was dead and had been for a long time. He made so many threats to me that I dream sometimes he’s right there to carry them out. Mostly, when I dream of him, It is the good times, before the terror began. He was a Gemini and I am a Taurus, prescription for disaster. I am glad you came through the storm with no damage. We, here in Florida understand the fear of the wind. We face hurricanes plus tornadoes that spin off of them. I pray we all stay safe from the wind this spring and summer storm season.

  22. Grateful You were sheltered from the storm, God is great.
    Prayers for the families that lost loved ones & those injured,
    Be mesmerized with your beautiful
    flowers and thank you for sharing
    them with us?

  23. when I heard about the storms, I prayed for you, Charlie, Ivy, Nathan, & et al ~ grateful to read that all is ok! … and as for the other storms you wrote about – Brenda, you are stating my truth, also! Yet another page that I have pinned!

  24. Glad all is well and not damaged. It seems that when I prepare then nothing happens! It’s when I don’t that things get messed up a bit. Crazy isn’t it?! I too, get carried back to the past where I was an ‘obsession’ and not loved. I do not know where he is now but am glad he is out of my life. I love your pics. I love reading your blog. Blessings

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