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Wicked Dreams

See you in my dreams.

If only it was that easy.

I wish for a few things in life: Dinner with Elton, a lake cabin, to not dream at all during the night, and if I do dream, that I have some say in it.

If dreaming is the sign of an active mind, I’ve got the brain of Newton, Einstein, and Jobs all wrapped into one. If the situations my mind plunges me into at night are signs of my subconscious processing my conscious, I lead a very strange waking life.

I’m a big dreamer and I think I always have been (not to be confused with dreaming of becoming a lawyer or said dinner with Elton). I can say with some certainty, or maybe none at all, that it goes way back.

By the time I entered law school and my anxiety/stress levels were at dizzying heights, I dissented into the surreal and plain old weird each evening. And even though I’m now away from that stress, the nighttime mania continues. In the morning, I share a lot of my dreams with Sean and he always shakes his head. He falls into the saner camp of: I don’t dream much and if I do, I don’t remember.

Just last night, my old teacher’s daughter, whom I don’t even know and is probably fifteen years older than me, was married to a man I worked with in college at the Country Club, and they lived on a farm in Minneapolis. When she came to visit me at the Minneapolis hotel I was staying at, the Yankees were in town and quite a few of the team told me they were passing around my book. I think it got stranger after that … although I appreciated the Yankees reading Unwillable. I hope they at least have the good sense to share pictures of it on social media.

I hardly know that woman’s name and haven’t thought of my old coworker in years. And believe me, they’d be an odd couple. Why did they enter my subconscious? What was my brain trying to work out while I rested? And to be perfectly honest … I like the Red Sox. I’ve given up searching for meaning in what my brain does at night. Rather, I’ve acquiesced to a few things: I have a very active mind, day and night; I’m an anxious person; and I’m strange. If I believe all that, it’s easier to wake up and not think I belong in a circus. Or the hospital.

Speaking of a circus, a few nights after my Dad’s funeral, I dreamed about him. I’ve already seen him in my sleep four times and consider myself lucky. I know so many people long for their deceased, loved ones to visit them in those quiet, dark hours. Dad was standing on top of our barn at the farm, as a circus was going on below him, and he held up a #StebbinsStrong shirt towards me on the ground. I told him the shirts in the box were mine and I’d come and get them.

I was so glad to see him. And out of all the nonverbal things he could have said to me, it was Stebbins Strong.

I wish I could choose my dreams. About 98% of them fall into the “Jackie needs new medicine” category. But every now and then, I get a really happy one. One where I wake up and don’t question my inner thoughts. Where I feel like I don’t even know the border of that dream and reality. One that allows my day to start out in bliss.

About a month ago, I had one of those dreams.

My beloved Grandpa Allen visited me. He died in 2001 and I’ve had minimal encounters with him during all those years of sleep. But this time was really different. I was blending my conscious reality with the subconscious dream. And I awoke to one of the happiest feelings I’ve had in a long time.

A lot happened to me that month, so I’ve lost some of it, but not the ending. As Grandpa and I walked along down the road together, holding hands, he said, I’m so proud of you and all the work you’re doing now.

And I felt it. I felt the joy that statement and our time together brought me.

As we sauntered along in my dreaming state, I told him, I’m going to write a blog about this.

And we kept walking into the sunset, hand in hand. I was close beside him, but I can see us now as if I’m walking behind the moment.

Just as if I had said it aloud, I committed that statement to consciousness. I woke up, savored the chance encounter, and knew I’d write a blog about it.

For the longest time, I’ve felt deep pains of sadness from my loss of Grandpa and that he never got to see my work as an adult. In politics and the law.

Or maybe he has seen it.

And maybe there’s a reason my dreams choose me and not the other way around.

See you in my dreams.


“Don't disturb me if you dare Join me if you have the nerve I'll show you where the best of me has been Behind my eyes I'll wait for you Imagine just what we could do Come join me in my wicked dream

“Don't send me back to real life The daily grind just leaves me feeling numb Leave me in my wicked dream Where pressure cracks and beauty comes undone ~ Wicked Dreams by Elton John


/ / The JM Stebbins blog is an autoimmune encephalitis blog from former lawyer and autoimmune encephalitis survivor, Jackie M. Stebbins.

Jackie M. Stebbins is also the author of Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim my Brain, a book about autoimmune encephalitis, resilience, hope, and survival. / /


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