By K. Hecht, P. Berman, & A. Hosack
I hurt my Davy again. I hurt him bad. There is blood everywhere. How could I do it?
Claire had come upstairs from her part-time job at the grocery store. She was covered in sweat and exhausted from putting food on the shelves. What did she find, when she just wanted to strip and take a cold shower? Davy cutting up her new diploma from Dental Hygiene School. She was supposed to hang this on her wall at work! This was her proof she was really a hygienist. What was she supposed to do now? Davy was smiling, he had stuck the school seal from her diploma on his nose. He started laughing and pulling back on the remains of her diploma as she tried to save some of it; it ripped in half.
Davy is going to pay for this! Claire dragged him to his feet and shoved him down the stairs ahead of her. He had stopped laughing and was now kicking and screaming as he tried to get away from her. She had him tight by the back of the shirt and they were alone in the house; there was no one to rush out and save him. At the turn off to the living room, Davy tried again to get away. She dragged him back to the basement door and kept him quick marching down to the bottom of the stairs. She flung him down in the usual spot, grabbed her discipline belt from where it was hidden behind the wood stack and raised it high above her head. She would teach him; she began to slam the belt down. Davy started screaming even before the belt touched him. This only made her whip the belt down harder on his back.
He had finally gotten the point. Things were quiet. Blessed quiet. She gave him one more swat for good measure!
Davy showed no sign of movement. No whimper of sound. At peace, Claire leaned down to pull him to his feet. He was a dead weight. She yelled at him to stand up and then looked down at her hands; they were covered in blood. Suddenly screams began again – her screams.
“Claire, Claire wake up. You are all right. Claire, you are scaring Davy, please wake up,” Mrs. Carson was standing by the head of Claire’s bed. She was holding Davy by the hand. Claire’s eyes could see now. She could tell Davy was alright – there was no sign of blood, but he was as white as the sheet pooled at her feet.
I am terrified. Not worried. Not scared. My feelings are out-of-control! I need help! !
Claire suddenly remembered she could help herself. She glued her eyes to her fish. He was swimming around calmly as usual.
It’s not working. It’s not working! Why not? Why not?
Claire sees her feeling chart laying down on her desk. She remembered that she needed to rate her level of fear. The higher the fear, the more steps she would need to control this more intense emotion.
Terror is a 10 – the top of the scale. The fish works when I am around six. I must do more. I’ll try exercise.
Davy watches curiously as his mom does sit-ups. He then sees her doing some strange type of breathing. Now, he sees her watching her fish; he sits next to her and watches it with her.
I can feel my heart beat. Everything inside me feels quiet.
Claire looks down at Davy and sees that he still looks worried. “My Davy, how kind of you to come give me a hug after my nightmare?” Davy immediately folds her into his arms, and she covers the top of his head with kisses. “I am so sorry Davy, I dreamed I was being eaten by a purple dinosaur.” “Mommy, that’s silly, all my dinosaurs are brown and black.” “Your dinosaurs would never eat me Davy, it was this strange purple dinosaur with big teeth.” Davy open his mouth wide- “Yes, just like your big teeth, help, help save me Mrs. Carson.” Davy was laughing now and hiding behind Mrs. Carson.
Claire looked up at her clock. It was 6 a.m. She said to Davy, “It is a little early to have breakfast now. Would you like me to snuggle you in my bed till 7 a.m.?” “Yeah,” shrieked Davy. Sleeping with his mom was a rare treat. Claire looked up to see Mrs. Carson smiling at her. Claire got into bed, Davy snuggled in and Mrs. Carson covered them both with the quilt. Davy fell asleep almost immediately.
My Davy can sleep peacefully. I have done something right.
Do Claire’s nightmares seem “normal to you?” Have you ever wondered if she might be having night terrors? According to the National Institute of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493222/
Most people with night terrors are between the ages of 3-7. Someone having a night terror might scream and thrash around. Their eyes might be open, but they still wouldn’t be seeing what was happening in the room; they would be deep asleep. It is very difficult to wake someone who is having a night terror. It is hard to comfort them as they appear unaware of anything out-side their dream. A night terror might last from 10-20 minutes. Once it is over, the person who had it might fall back to sleep suddenly and would be unlikely to remember what happened.
Claire could be having a night terror but at her age, it would be unusual. Is Claire dissociating from reality? According to the Mental Health America website:
“Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Dissociation seems to fall on a continuum of severity. Mild dissociation would be like daydreaming, getting “lost” in a book, or when you are driving down a familiar stretch of road and realize that you do not remember the last several miles. A severe and more chronic form of dissociation is seen in the disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called Multiple Personality Disorder, and other Dissociative Disorders.”
To read more about what dissociation means go to: