Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Affect of Dreams

I’m not usually the sort of person who lets his nightly dreams bother him much, but every once in a while there is a dream so vivid, so realistic, and so profound that it just weighs on me and can cause me to adjust my behaviors or attitudes. Last night, I had one of those dreams. To put it more accurately, I had a nightmare.

It started off with my brother and me on a trip, driving through the country and into some small town in the hills. We got lost and ended up on a little road leading out into some woods. We found that the road dead-ended in a circle leading back out. There was another family parked just ahead. As we got out of the car to stretch our legs and look at the map, a couple of men came out of the woods and began harassing the other family. My brother and I approached to see if we could help. That’s when some guns were shown and all of us were marched off. The dream got a bit blurry at this point and began again with me at a younger age (maybe twelve or thirteen), as well as the rest of my family, being held up by gunpoint by a few other men and at least one woman in the home we used to live in. We were all in the living room, and mom suggested I go to the laundry room to get my clean clothes out (she suggested this with gestures insinuating that would be my opportunity to slip out of the house and get away for help). So, I went off to the laundry room. One of the men followed me though. He stopped outside of the room and I went in, quickly thinking about how to get away. After a minute or so, the man walked in behind me and closed the door. I was nervous and panicked about what he wanted. He looked me over and began telling me how attractive he thought I was. He wore an arrogant smile as he looked at me. He then turned me toward the washer and dryer and began pulling at my clothes. I protested in a quiet, scared, nervousness—which basically means I felt powerless to put up much of a fight. At this time, my dad was in the other room trying to get in to find out what was happening. I was ashamed for him to see and yelled for him to stay away. But it wasn’t just that I was ashamed. I didn’t want him to interrupt the attention I was getting from this good looking guy. The man then began raping me. I didn’t want him to, but at the same time I was enjoying it and didn’t really want him to stop either. When he’d finished, he turned me around. A woman friend of his was standing next to him. They were both smiling at me and talking curiously about me to each other. The man then told me to get down on my knees (for what purpose you should know). As I did, I saw his genitals for the first time. I stopped and just looked. He was covered with bumps. He laughed and told me, “Don’t you like what you see?” I felt disgusted and horrified, but also confused. I looked up at him and he told me he had herpes, and that he’d just given it to me. At this point I felt horrified. I just looked up at him and asked, “You gave me herpes on purpose?” He just laughed again, along with the woman, and they began talking about how stupid I was. I just sat there on the floor, on my knees, totally appalled, feeling completely assaulted and taken advantage of, crying. And then the dream ended. I woke up, at 4:00am, scared and panicky in my dark room. I was literally shaking. I got up and turned on the light in my closet (it was nearest) and I just stood there for a moment trying to catch my breath and realize that it was only a dream. It was, in every sense, a nightmare though. It was just so real.

I tell you this dream, and in full, because, as I said at the start, some dreams do have an impact on me. This was one of them. I know why I had this dream. The last few days I’ve been trying very hard not to masturbate. I’m on day five now, which I hope to continue, and which I will give full credit to God. But as if the lack of sexual release over the last few days wasn’t enough to promote such a dream, it was only advanced by the fact that I binged for a couple of hours yesterday looking at pornography. I tried to resist, but my resolve and willingness was admittedly not enough—I was feeling kind of down about it being Valentine’s Day and just honestly didn’t feel much like trying. Like yesterday, today, I wasn’t called in to work, and so I prayed and promised to God that with his help I’d make today what yesterday should have been. So far, I’ve kept that promise and I intend to keep it the whole day through and hopefully beyond just this day. I told you the dream I had because it was in having this dream that helped push me closer to God, to try harder for him, to seek out his guidance more, and to rely more on his help. This sort of thing happens every once and a while. And maybe God allowed such a dream to take root knowing that it would have such an impact on me. Regardless of the how and why of the dream, I know that I do not want to look at pornography at all today. I want to put forward the strongest resistance possible. And, likewise, I want to continue resisting any urges to masturbate.

Even though I’m sure none of us really ever like having a bad dream, I suppose a story like mine can prove that some good can come of them. God can reach us for His and our benefit in a variety (and sometimes even very unpleasant) of ways.


naturgesetz said...

I think you've reacted very well to this dream.

How our waking thoughts affect our dreaming is unclear, but it seems to me that there can be some connection, especially with thoughts that dominate our thinking. But of course that does not make us responsible for the content of our dreams.

The ambivalence you felt in the laundry room is probably realistic. When I was in college, a priest in theology class told that someone came to him and confessed fornication and indicated that he was repentant, but then added, "But Father, I liked it." He responded, "Of course you did. You're human, and sex is pleasurable." It is part of our fallen nature that we can feel divided — tempted when we want to avoid sin, feeling pleasure even when we know it is wrong. The important thing is that we don't give up the struggle to cooperate with God's grace, and to repent if we do sin.

It sounds to me as if you are doing well. From what I've read, it can be very difficult to avoid masturbation, especially if it has become habitual. Some people can backslide in a moment of weakness. That is when it is especially important not to become discouraged, but to pick yourself up, ask for forgiveness, and resume the battle. Same goes for porno.

I'm not saying that it's inevitable that you will backslide. With God all things are possible, and I pray that you will have the strength to remain free of these sins. Do not grow weary or become discouraged. I'm sure that the attractions to those things will weaken as you go along living virtuously, even though we are always subject to being tempted as long as we live.

Brandon said...

Thanks for commenting and praying for me, N.

I know most dreams I have are just a bunch of randomness usually, and I quickly forget what they were even about. But then a lot of times when I'm stressed or bothered about something, a dream like this one can just sort of mirror certain things going on. Of course, the content of what's happening in the dream is not anything I can control. I just know that it probably wouldn't have happened had I not looked up a bunch of pornography before going to sleep last night.

Good news though! Still no pornography or masturbation today. In fact, it's been a good day with a great deal more time spent with the Lord than usual.