Daily Prompts: When nightmares echo reality.

Daily Prompt: Nightmares

by michelle w. on February 19, 2013

Describe the last nightmare you remember having. What do you think it meant?

I have had the same nightmare for the last nearly 24 years. I have never written about this.  It  is distressing and not the kind of thing I felt I should share until today – maybe speaking about it will help.

In my nightmare, I am a few feet from a young boy, lying alone on the turf of the football pitch. His face is tinged blue, his eyes and mouth are open. I push past the people in front of me to the fence separating me from him, but it is too high. The exit gate is locked, I can’t get to him. I talk to him, but don’t know if he can hear me.

More stretchers arrive. More victims. I have to stand there, an unwilling observer of human suffering like the people around me. A man walks slowly down the pitch, trousers soaked with fear, tears running down his face. A drunken supporter screams abuse at injured people.  I hug a sobbing stranger on a step. Later, much later, we get on the bus home. The only sound was that of grown adults weeping.

I always wake up feeling that I have been punched in the stomach by the concentrated dose of human compassion, courage, grief, terror, anger, stupidity, cruelty and inadequacy I experienced that day. I awaken with the guilt of having survived, and the anger that 96 people died on the day they were supposed to enjoy a football match.

I know full well what this nightmare means. My brain has never processed the horror of seeing this happen in 1989, and my conscience cannot accept that I was incapable of doing anything to change the victims’ destinies. Time does nothing to take the memory away, and becoming a mother has made it more difficult.  I see the boy again and again, because I need to know if he survived. I never will.

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16 thoughts on “Daily Prompts: When nightmares echo reality.

    • Thank you. Who knows, it may help: I’ve kept it all very close to my chest as I always felt it would distress others. I have a feeling this is something that is going to stay with me; I’ve come round to the fact that you can’t erase things like that from your memory…

  1. Nightmares based on live experiences must be the hardest to budge. Perhaps they never go away. I suppose soldiers and the police face this issue too.

    Thankfully I don’t have a recurring nightmare, just the occasional one-off. They usually involve my ex-h. 🙂

  2. I can’t see how you could ever completely forget such an experience, MM, especially with the recurrent publicity even after so many years. I think writing it down, or talking to someone about it, can and does help, but memory can be very tenacious, particularly when sleep takes off our conscious restraints.

    • In a way, not forgetting means that I am always conscious that life can stop very quickly, and having seen so much pain makes me see every day in a different light than I did before. I also see humanity in a very different light, too. I escape from most of the UK media coverage as I live in France, but as you say, it’s not the kind of experience you forget.

  3. what a nightmare. Just seeing the images of that day on TV always make me cry. Cannot imagine what it was like being there MM. Hope you can put your nightmare into a box in your memory, where it does not hurt so much. Love

    • Thanks for the love and concern, much appreciated 🙂 I like the image of a box- these memories won’t shift for a reason, and I suppose that if you’ve got even a scrap of humanity you can’t ever forget seeing something like that. There were so many things that hit home in so little time, and the wide range of instinctive reactions I saw from other people, ranging from the heroic to the downright disgustingly evil, was one of the biggest shocks to the system I’ve ever had.

  4. After reading this a few days ago, I read some reports on the incident. What makes the whole thing even worse is that many of those deaths were preventable. Unexpected death tears at the fabric of our being, at our foundations. You mention disgustingly evil acts by others. That’s hard to have to bring into your sphere of daily knowledge about human nature. Love to you, MM.

    • You pinpoint the very things that I can’t accept about this experience. The crush in itself should never have happened, and so many people who were initially saved from the bedlam died afterwards simply because the help didn’t come fast enough. Seeing that some people could be so inhumane and incompassionate has affected me for ever – particulary the photographers, who were the coldest, most inhumane individuals I’ve seen in my life. Thank you for the love; right back atcha, Miss Cuttlefish 😉

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