The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli (1781)

Have you ever had a dream that ordinarily wouldn’t be scary but it actually did scare the bejesus out of you and shouting wasn’t an option, waking was? I literally just woke up from a dream like this.

Growing up in our household was once a beautiful thing. I remember getting belly-blows from my dad, playing and building forts in the living room. He’d take us out to a fancy restaurant for fine dining or to a pizza place for dinner and it was the best time in the world. I didn’t remember these events until I started writing this and I wonder why that memory is suppressed. Are good memories suppressed? I’ll have to ask my therapist today.

Anyway, dad got very busy that the number of outings slowly dwindled. He would come home at about 2 am when we’d all gone to bed. I was old enough at this point to see the cracks in my parents’ marriage as events unfolded. As the days and months went by, the shouting contests grew louder, my dad stayed home even less and my mum slowly started becoming bitter.

A day I would never forget is one fateful day when I heard them shouting but this time it was about a woman and a perfume. I recall my mum asking me the day before if I thought the perfume my dad got her was nice and I replied affirmatively saying how I thought it was so romantic. She went on to tell me how he’d gotten two sets of the exact same gifts on his trip to England and was going to give his girlfriend the second set. I remember feeling so disappointed and heartbroken. Something happened on the day of the screaming contest that made everything I believed in come crashing before my eyes. I was 9 years old at the time and I think that’s when this particular nightmare started or at least one of the many versions of it.

Fast-forward to when I was a 21 year-old who’d just graduated from University with the confidence of a million giants, the conviction that the world is my oyster and the naïveté of a teenager . My ex-boyfriend and I had just broken up but were still “friends”. I went to visit him in London and decided to see my cousin’s friend who I’d been friends with for about 5 years but we’d never met in-person. He had reached out to me right before graduation and we decided to finally meet up. I went to spend the night at his apartment but I guess we didn’t have the same idea of what a sleepover is.

His friends were supposed to be there but I wasn’t alarmed when I noticed we didn’t go to his apartment in Central London but had to take another train out to his other apartment which was apparently closer to his school. Hello, confident much! Long story short, he came on to me and just as I deflected, everything went to shit because he went on a violent rant about why I thought I was so special and when I’d try to say, “Akpan*, please calm down” he would threaten to beat the shit out of me for calling him by his actual name and then have a gulp of his Ciroc vodka (Yup, I remember that bottle with the blue bottom like it was yesterday because he offered me some). He said only his mother calls him by his actual name but I think he forgot that he introduced himself to me five years prior with his actual name. I couldn’t leave because I didn’t know where I was, no taxi service and my train back to Birmingham was not until later that evening. Once again, I was helpless and stuck in a room with a man who went from lovely and calm to violent and angry as fuck!

The nightmare I had last night was about this guy who I’d either just met or we were dating but everyone thought he was this amazing person even though I was lowkey scared of him for some reason. This mystery man concealed his jailbird tattoos including a teardrop on his face that even I couldn’t see it. He talked very passionately about business ventures which I liked a lot because anyone who knows me knows that’s all I talk about. Everything was deceptively great in my dream until shit hit the fan and he locked me in a room and asked me to finish a bottle of Cognac and even though I saw this coming, I was still scared shitless. I think he realised I didn’t feel the same way about him because I didn’t care about his money and actually saw through his bullshit.

I have a version of this nightmare once in a while and I don’t even know what triggers it. I thought my greatest fear was being in a loveless marriage but I think it’s evident that my greatest fear is being with a man who seems great on the exterior but turns into this violent beast who has no self control and grip on his anger regardless of whether he gets physical or not. Or maybe it’s a combination of both fears. I think this may be the reason why I go for blunt guys who have no problem with communicating their emotions in a calm manner albeit hurtful or not. I go for the men who tell me from the beginning that they aren’t interested in something serious because, well, “….at least they aren’t feigning interest or trying to create the perfect persona with me”. I like these men because they seem more “real” to me; no false airs or fake personalities because by being blunt, they are honest to a fault. I’m allowing my greatest fears dictate the course of my life, my actions. I’m essentially being controlled by my fears and I think this needs to stop. I’m tired of both the recurring nightmares and the manifestation in reality.

Product Manager at Alta Labs. Budding UI/UX Designer. Aspiring Afrominimalist. I feel as I exist. I write as it transpires. I learn as I experience.

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