Nightmares and bad dreams have always been a problem for me, ever since I was very young. I don’t really have what you would call normal “good” dreams there all just varying degrees of bad. The worst is this recurring dream I’ve had since I was seven years old and I believe the last time I had it was a couple years ago. I won’t go into detail but it takes place in a rock crater with a refinery in it, and there’s a short, fat man in a turban that takes bites out of whole, living cows. ….. I know: weird.
Many of my bad dreams run on loops and are mostly fueled by stress not fear. A common theme is being somewhere scary, escaping, running for ages, finding someone that offers to help only to have them return me to the place I escaped from and so on and so on. Of course it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what those dreams mean!
Growing up I thought that my dreams were normal. Not all of them woke me up screaming, some just left me feeling nervous and uneasy when I woke up in the morning. Every first grader has that problem though right?
As I got older the dreams got more vivid and more gruesome, darker, harder to brush off and by the time I started high school I was a border line insomniac. Why spend all night having terrible dreams and go to school tired when I can stay up all night playing on the computer and go to school tired. No sleep = no bad dreams. Problem solved!
Then in college I discovered that certain “beverages” and/or “products” could in fact give me a few hours of restful sleep from time to time. Some “products” came with the added bonus of not being in physical pain and discomfort all the time! (Rodeo can be a brutal sport.) A little further into college and I also discovered that sleeping next to someone sometimes calmed me down enough to get a decent nights sleep. That is; if the guy next to me didn’t have a panic attack when I woke up from a bad dream having a panic attack!
But as I’ve mentioned college didn’t go well for me and once the decision was made to clean up my act I was back to no sleep.
I figured out a few years ago that my stress level has a lot to do with my dreams and nightmares and very rarely am I not stressed about something.
Sometimes having a beer or a glass of whiskey before bed would relax me enough to get some sleep but other times it just made the nightmares weirder. Nothing really helped. If I had a boyfriend type person at the time having them sleeping next to me would help but I’m terrible at relationships so usually that relief didn’t last long.
Then my friend (the same friend that helped me realize what I was doing wrong with my life), after several experiences of me waking up from my nightmares, told me that when he was little one of his older brothers made him a dream catcher and it stopped his bad dreams.
After some thought and some research I decided it couldn’t hurt. Everyone else’s suggestions were usually “take sleeping pills” or “see a professional”. No thanks. So, I gathered up the materials, googled a set of directions, and 20 minutes later hung up my shiny, new dream catcher!
Now, I know that there’s a phase going around of “white girls” getting dream catcher tattoos (thank you Miley Cyrus) and associating them with chasing your dreams. As far as that goes it’s your tattoo you can make it mean whatever you want, but real dream catchers are not about chasing dreams and accomplishing goals.
Dream catchers are a Native American tradition. I am not Native nor do I have enough Native blood to even begin to do their traditions justice. What I do know is that dream catchers are hung over the sleeping place, usually of small children. Some of the legends and lore say that the night air is filled with many dreams, good and bad, and the dream catcher is used to protect the child from the bad. Good dreams and bad dreams flow through the dream catcher. The bad dreams become caught in the spiders web and are destroyed by the light of the sunrise but the good dreams are allowed to continue through the opening in the center and trickle down the string and feathers into the mind of the sleeping child.
Yes I’m a little superstitious (I knock on wood, don’t let your hat touch the bed, always set your cowboy hat crown down so the luck doesn’t fall out, etc.) and maybe the dream catcher is another of my superstitions or maybe it’s mind over matter, but it helped.
I’m not saying my bad dreams are completely gone and never to return! With the sheer amount of bad dreams floating through the air around my head I can’t expect the dream catcher to capture them all! lol But, it does help. I can sleep at night, my dreams don’t wake me up screaming,
I can go to bed at night and actually fall asleep, it’s marvelous. I LOVE SLEEP! I had no clue what I was missing out on!!!
You know what else? It’s worked for more than a year now. I’ve had it with me in three apartments and the house I live in now and it rode up front with me on my drive from Montana to Texas. You can bet it will follow me wherever my adventures take me!
One of the legends I read online went into detail about the parts that make up a dream catcher and the meaning behind them so I took some of the ideas and added some of my own.
- I used lime green string for the webbing because it’s my favorite color
- I used a purple bead to represent the spider that weaves the web because purple is Josie and I’s lucky color
- The hoop is made from the end of one of my old ropes because RODEO IS LIFE
- The webbing connects to the hoop at 13 points to represent the 13 phases of the moon because I’ve always had a fascination with the moon