I dream about tornados.
I mean, I dream about other things too. Some of which I forget before I even wake up. But since my childhood, I've had recurring dreams. They are not always the same exact dream, but they revolve around the same theme.
In one of the recurring-themed dreams, I am walking in a familiar place, when I am suddenly face to face with a giant wild animal. And I don't mean like a stray cat. I mean a large grizzly bear or a lion. This animal is there, larger than life, totally free from restraint. I am completely taken off guard every time. But it's dangerous and there is no where that is safe to flee to or hide.
In another recurring dream, I am back in high school. I am walking the halls, and it suddenly occurs to me that I've missed one of my classes all year long. Like, I just completely forgot to go to it. The class is usually math, as it was my worst subject in high school. But this feeling of panic and dread washes over me as I realize I am completely going to fail this class. Immediately after that thought is the second realization that I have no idea 1) where my classroom is and 2) how to get to it. I head to the main office, where I explain I don't know my schedule and I need to find my class. They tell me generally where the classroom is, and I rush out to find out. The walls and halls begin to look less familiar, and I become lost. The dream usually starts to unravel at this point, as I cannot remember where any of my classes are.
Some of my most memorable recurring dreams involve tornados. We've established on this blog that I was a bit of a geek when I was a kid. Maybe a lot of a geek: Rock collections. Complete lack of anything resembling athletic ability. Bad haircut. No fashion sense. Always had my nose in a book. And I loved science. LOVED science. I still do. And one of my favorite general areas of science has always been Earth and Space science, particularly weather.
So, every week when our class had library time, I would spend the 30 minutes pulling every weather-related book I could find and pouring over the literature. If I could find books with fantastic pictures of destructive weather phenomenon (hurricanes, tornados, etc), even better. The pictures struck me with a sense of fear and awe. I was amazed that something as simple as cotton ball clouds had the ability to become ferocious and fatal. I was enamored with the beauty nature could create: the slender and graceful tower of spinning clouds; the purple, blue and green skys; the unique shapes; the solemn dance of lightening.
It was magical. And completely frightening. But magical all the same.
But it is never magical when I dream about tornados.
I think I've narrowed down that I dream about tornados when I am stressed or feeling chased and cornered by life circumstances. I guess most of those stressful dreams happen when I am feeling lost, overwhelmed or scared by life. But the tornado dreams happen most often and are the most prominent in my mind. They are vivid, and the dream always starts ominously. Just like in the movies (as I've never actually experienced a tornado in real life), my dream is eerily quiet and strangely devoid of people, as though everyone got a memo about getting the heck out of Dodge and I did not. I sense there is something about to happen, that something is coming, but I do not know what.
The colors stand out to me, even now thinking back on the dreams. The sky is always a sickening shade of green or blue, like a bruise. The clouds are bulbous and bloated. And the air is still. Silent. Sometimes I am in my house, completely distracted with a chore or a task when I realize that something is wrong. Other times I am out and about, perhaps driving or walking.
And then I see it. A thin funnel in the distance. The realization of what I am looking at takes a moment to sink in. But quickly panic washes over me. I am in danger. I am alone.
And I have no idea what I am supposed to do.
If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is being out of control. Out of control of my life. My circumstances. My schedule. My emotions. I struggle with it. I am aware of it. But as with all weaknesses, it is an uphill battle to overcome. I see how this attribute affects me in many areas of my life: my parenting, my marriage, my relationships, my own sense of peace (or, rather, anxiety). I wish I was one of those people who was laid-back, easy-going and flexible. I desperately want to be that person. I try to be that person. But, like I said.
We visited my Dad and stepmother a few weeks ago. We were dealing with a central air conditioner that broke the day before we were supposed to leave (in a heatwave, nonetheless), so we ended up having to stay at my moms before we left. Over the course of 5 days, I was completely out of my comfort zone: having the kids sleeping in unfamiliar places, schedules completely thrown off, fighting with our HVAC company while being out of town. Many people can say, C'est la vie, and go with the flow.
No, I start to seize up and panic and lose ability to function. I imagine worst-case scenarios: the children won't sleep well [which happened], the children will wake each other up because of paper thin walls [which happened], the kids will wake up early and schedules are thrown to the wind [which happened], kids will melt down a bit from being overstimulated and overtired [which happened], the air conditioner doesn't get fixed right away [which happened].
Those things all happened. And did we survive? Yes. Are we ok? Yes. Did life go on? Yes.
But I despise it just the same. Amidst the not-so-relaxing vacation, we were also pummeled by several unexpected expenses and bills that were completely out of our control. It feels a bit like we are drowning, and I just want to throw my hands up, look to the sky and demand, "SERIOUSLY?!"
Will life go on? Yes. Will we be ok? Most likely. Will we survive?
I hope so.
You'd think by now I would learn how to cope with life, with the unexpected, with difficulty. I've had my share of hard stuff to deal with in my life. And I deal, but not quite the way I wish I did. Because life is hard. And much like my dreams, we are taken off guard and given no place to turn and hide.
I have a long way to go until I am the parent who handles all situations with ease, the wife who can go with the flow, the girl who manages her relationships competently, the woman who does not look at life as one big predictable schedule.
But I am working on it.
And until then, I will most likely continue to dream about tornados.