Monday, November 23, 2009
I'm not sure when my neurotic fear of snakes began to develop, but my earliest memories come from living back home on Paul's Way with our very woodsy backyard. I remember the day my dog Princess was fervently slinging her head back and forth, playing with a stick. I go to grab the stick out of her mouth to throw it for her, and low and behold, the "stick" wraps around my leg mid-sling. I proceed to head straight to the top of our old-school swingset, where I clung for dear life at the metal corner post screaming and crying at the top of my lungs for help because Princess, being the excellent dog she was, had decided to follow me to the swingset and was continuing to shake the snake to death right underneath me. My parents soon rescued me--I might have been five when this happened?--and to this day, I can still feel that snake wrap around my leg when I recall this story.
It seems like after that earliest memory, everthing snake, particulary black snakes began to creep me out. I remember looking out the back windows of our house at the blueberry bushes our neighbors grew next door and being petrified to go outside because they placed fake snakes in the top of the bushes to scare the birds away. It didn't help that when my littlest brother, Mark, became old enough to go through his snake-fetish phase that all boys must, he thought it was hilarious to place his black rubber snake under my pillow or in the bottom of my bed, so that I would inevitably scream and cry and try to beat him up. He was always a glutton for punishment. I finally got so mad one time, that I took the snake out to the garbage can and proceeded to cut it into itsy-bity rubber pieces while he cried and begged me to stop. Needless to say, I was fifteen when he started doing this and some permanent damage was done.
So when exactly the dreams began is hard to pinpoint. I'm almost certain they began in high school because I can remember nights where I woke up in cold sweats, scared to death staring at my bed from across the room, or my doorway, or from the top of my desk chair. I never remembered how I got there or why, but I do know it happened. It was only after I got married and that the stories began to emerge because now Joey was there first hand to experience them.
The first one occurred within our first or second week of marriage. I screamed bloody-murder in the middle of the night, ripped the sheets back off the bed, as I ran to hop on top of the nearby desk chair--all the while pointing back at the bed screaming, "Snake!" Joey is freaking out, ripping the covers off the bed at 3am before he comes to his senses and realizes I was dreaming. A little disturbed, we both crawl back in bed. I fall back fast asleep, while Joey spends the rest of the night staring at the ceiling due to his adrenaline rush.
Enter Chattanooga. These dreams seemed to happen more often for whatever reason while in Chattanooga. Maybe it was being by myself more often at night, maybe being in a strange new place for the first time in my life, I don't know, but I'm amazed our town-home neighbors who shared a wall withus never called the cops in three years because the screaming has to be disturbing.
Let's see...there was one night I ran screaming up and down, back and forth down my side of the bed in my long silk nightgown. Joey tried to grab me to stop me, but only succeeded when he wripped my nightgown all the way up to my arm pit before I woke up. Then the night I ran full speed toward my closet to hide from the snake, only in my dream the closet doors were open--not so in real life. Joey was able to grab me and drag me to the floor before I hit the doors at a full run. I'm sure the huge rug burns on my knees were much better than the head injury that could have been. But the one that takes the cake, is the one I remember most vividly. In my dream, I remember being carried by my dad and brother Matthew, one on each arm, toward a pit with a wooden lid. My whole family was there, standing around the pit singing happy birthday. They opened the wooden door only to reveal an anaconda size, slithering black snake, and they were trying to throw me in the pit with it!!! (Disclaimer: I LOVE my family. I have absolutely now grounds or ideas for why I dreamed they did this to me. I will leave that to a professional to psycho analyze.) Anyway...in real life, I had sat up in bed, stiff as a board (because my arms were being held), and I was screaming at the top of my lungs, I mean screaming like my last breath was about to be taken from me--I even remember being a little hoarse later on. Joey is now awake, trying to wake me up, and he says he literally took me by both arms and shook me so hard, he was afraid to hurt me, but I was not waking up, and by now, he was simply imitating what I thought was the feeling of trying to be shoved into this pit. I struggled big time, throwing elbows and trying to get away. So, I closed both my fists, reared back, and punched as hard as I could to escape, and Joey ended up with a black eye. I woke up when he let go and shouted, turned over and went back to sleep, while he once again seethed all night long. His eye looked bad the next morning and was unfortunately very noticeable to all his employees.
It didn't happen again until soon after we had moved into our current home. I woke up one night and began running down our hallway to get away. Joey was over it by this point in our marriage. He simply soccer checked me from behind, taking my legs out from under me before I fell down the stairs. I woke up on the floor in the middle of our hall in time to turn around and see him crawl back into bed. Guess I can't blame him. After that, it really hasn't happened for a long while. Sure there have been nights here and there where I jump out of bed scared and panting, but I don't make enough noise to wake Joey up, so he doesn't even know it's happened.
The problem with these dreams is my reaction continues to take more and more of a toll on me physically and psychologically as I get older. The last instance occurred while I was in New York on our Girl's Trip. This time I was five months pregnant with Weston, and my sister-in-love, Emily, was the lucky one who had to stop me from running full throttle into my hotel door because I was simply running for the light in my dream, there was no door. She was able to stop me in the nick of time before I really hurt myself and Weston. This was the first time I woke up so terrified I thought I was going to be physically sick and vomit. Once I regained my stomach, I went to lay in bed and all I really wanted to do was sob uncontrollably, I was so freaked out. But I made myself stay calm because the adrenaline rush was causing me to have contractions, which scared me even more. An hour of slow deep breathing, and I was able to fall back to sleep. Unfortunately it was Emily who had the sleepless night this time.
So last night, it happened again! This time I was dreaming I was in a small tunnel, somewhere dark I couldn't stand up, and this huge head of a black snake was coming after me. Joey said I struggled for several minutes, tangled in the covers, so he couldn't get a hand on me before I began to dig and crawl on my hands and knees across him over the bed because remember in my dream, I couldn't stand up. He tried grabbing my arms, but the best he could do was try to keep my from face planting on the floor before I hit the ground and continued to crawl hysterically into the bathroom. By the time he turned the bathroom light on, I was awake, panting, disoriented and almost in tears on the bathroom floor. He left me there to go back to bed while I hesitantly slipped back under my covers, fighting off pictures in my head of the dream, hoping that when I closed my eyes again, I wouldn't be back in the same place. My arm throbbed so badly from my shoulder to my elbow--I mean it hurt to the point where I cried a little. Joey can only figure I must have landed on it wrong when I scrambled off his side of the bed. Needless to say....I think I need help.
I no longer can even set foot in the snake house at the zoo. Snakes on a Plane TV commercials give me the willies and can send me over the edge. Discovery channels must be carefully, quickly screened before I sit and watch them, and the idea of running across snakes in the woods petrifies me to the point where I'm almost afraid to go hiking anymore, and this is one of my all time favorite things to do! I want to get over this phobia, but I'm really not sure how. It won't be long before Weston enters his boyish snake-fetish phase, and I seriously don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want my children to inherit this same irrational fear, but I'm not sure I can stay composed in front of them in the presence of a snake. Any suggestions would be helpful and much appreciated, but in the meantime, maybe you at least enjoyed this snapshot into our lives. Fun times at the Durham house=)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Now, that being said, I am fortunate that God blessed me with a personality that enjoys setting and completing a goal. I hate to run, but I love the discipline of a training workout that slowly, ever so slowly, builds you up to race day. I hate the air of anticipation and nervousness on race day because I am probably the only one running (NOT racing) to simply finish. I am not there to beat the clock or someone else. When it comes to running, competition is NOT a driving force. The goal is to finish, and to finish strong, not begging for an oxygen tank or IV fluids at the end.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Home is watching my daughter kiss her baby brother on the head. Home is thrilling in Weston's little chubby cheeks as he smiles from ear to ear at recognizing my face. Home is curling up to watch your favorite TV shows in bed with one puppy curled behind your legs and the other curled up in the crook of your lap. Home is waking up at 6am in the morning only to roll over and spoon with the man you want to spend every morning with for the rest of your life.
Home is Christmas Eve or birthday parties or family vacation or anytime we can get all my brothers and sisters and cousins together to laugh our heads off at anything and everything. Home is relishing the warmth of my parents new home and watching Savannah's granddaddy chase her around their cozy house. Home is thanking the Lord that my children's great-grandparents are still around and capable of thoroughly enjoying them and spending time with them when possible. Home is feeling so comfortable with your aunts and uncles that you enjoy every word of a quiet conversation with them about anything at all. Home is the contentment that comes from watching Savannah absolutely love playing with her cousins on Joey's side of the family. Home is having parents-in-love that feel like your very own.
Home is holidays and catching up with second cousins and aunts and uncles you rarely see and hugging the necks of extended family you love not because you know them all that well, but because they are family, and that means something. Home is attending Bible studies, baby showers, and gatherings at the park with friends. Home is feeling wrapped in warmth when you sit through your Sunday morning church service even though you may not see a single face you know personally, but the air of community and fellowship you feel is the signpost of home.
Home is family. Nothing more and nothing less. I love my home.
Jamie's friend, Elizabeth, had the idea to do a "blog carnival" and got a group of friends together to write about HOME today. Check out her blog here, along with other posts (at the bottom) by others on what home means to them.