Gulliver's Dream - The Chains of Sleep
Last night I became depressed again. This time it led to a terrible experience. I was discouraged with not being able to do some physics problems. I got disgusted, I was hot. I threw the papers and books down, cussed, closed the heat register, tore open the windows, pulled my shirt off, sat down at the desk, put my head in my arms, and let my eyes get moist. After a few minutes, I decided I'd take one of my short rests (which I knew would lead to falling asleep without getting any more work done - just like the other times, except once). I turned out the lights, pulled the pillow out from the bedspread and propped it up against the head of the bed, and sat on the bed, my back supported by the pillow. I started thinking. And, as usual, all my thoughts shortly turned to thoughts about Peggy. But I did think of other things, too. I began getting more and more depressed, and I eventually lay on my side, clutching at the sheet. I fell partly asleep - that type of sleep where I have some control over waking up, but I have continuous dreams. I dreamed about Peggy. I dreamed we were together in a room, having a ball. We were playing a type of game, where I'd pick her up and carry her in a certain way for a while, then put her down. I teased her, tickled her, and picked her up in a different way, carried her around, etc., both os us laughing all the time. I was allowed to "have" her every night, provided I paid for the use of her - just like a whore house, only it wasn't. I'd go to some place to pick her up - the room looked something like the ME Bldg. Lobby. I saw other guys doing the same thing, and I could see their motives in using the girls were sex. But Peg and I sort of looked at them with scorn, saying, "Let them have their fun in their way. We'll have a ball our own way." And we had a ball, laughing, teasing, carrying her. Then, while I was carrying her on my shoulders, I envisioned myself lying on the bed, dreaming all this. I could see myself lying there, in the dark, just waking up, just ready to fall off into a dead sleep - no dreams. I saw myself become terrified, knowing if I'd fall asleep, I'd never wake up again, and afraid of the judgement. I saw myself struggle to keep awake. I saw myself raise my arms perpendicularly above me with the hands clasped tightly together. The faint light coming in thru the windows made my arms look pure white - ghostly. Everything else was dark, and my pleading, hands-clapsed arms stood out glistening white against the blackness. I heard myself cry, "God, don't let me fall sleep." I pleaded again, with an affect in my voice, "God, don't let me fall asleep." Then, suddenly, I didn't see myself anymore, and I wasn't dreaming anymore. I had awakened from my half-sleep. Immediately, I was overwhelmingly tired and knew that I was falling asleep. And I became afraid - just like in the dream. Except that in the dream, I had strength to raise my arms above my head and pray. Here, in actuality, I had no strength to think. I just knew that in a split second I'd be asleep. I was afraid I'd not wake up in this world again. And I was afraid of God's judgement. So, in the split second I had, I desperately tried to force my muscles to move, knowing that that would prevent sleep. For the first time that I can remember, I experienced the feeling of complete relaxation - which I was trying to overcome. It was as though my muscles were stiff and unmovable. I tried to move my arms, but couldn't; my legs, but couldn't; my back, but couldn't. I felt the muscles grow tighter and tighter with sleep overcoming me. I'm sure this all took place in less than 2 seconds. Then, just as sleep almost had me overpowered (it felt as though there was only one tiny place in my whole body that wasn't overcome by sleep - that in my neck), I desperately forced my head to tilt by struggling to make my neck muscles move. And when the neck muscles moved, it released sleep's grip on a host of muscles in the area of the neck. Immediately I started those moving. Then I tried my right arm. It felt as if 99% of the muscles each had its own padlock. The other 1% I forced to move, and the padlocks, under force, gave way 1 or 2 or 3 at a time, and I raised my arm slowly, weakly, up. To keep the arm awake, I forced it over my head and grasped the round horizontal bar of the head rest above me and clutched it to keep the muscles active. Then I felt a release, gradually, of other muscles, and I squrimed and struggled. Finally, all my muscles were active, although they were very tired. I could move only weakly. Sometime during this happening, I said, "God help me," several times. Then I opened my eyes, and I was awake, thinking, "Thank God." Then I was ashamed of the necessity of the fear I had. I thought of my many sins, and how I'd neglected God, and how I'd been selfish, and hurt my friends. I lay there thinking of these things, and thinking how, at the last split second, I'd managed to move a muscle which had saved me from terrifying sleep. I rolled over on my side and prayed for forgiveness, over and over. After several minutes, I forced myself off the bed and walked weakly to the bureau, where I rested my hands on top and leaned on my arms. I was very weak, and had to concentrate to move my muscles well enough. From the light coming in through the windows, I could barely make out my image in the mirror. I looked down, tears moistened my eyes. I started again, "God forgive me," again and again. My legs weree weak, and I let myself down to my knees and doubled myself over.
I folded my hands. "God forgive me." I thought of the publican's prayer. "I have sinned. I have sinned against my parents. ... I have sinned against Peggy. ... I have sinned against my friends. ... I have sinned against Thee. ... My sins against Peggy are selfishness. I said I loved her yet was thinking of myself. God forgive me. ... My sins against my parents are not loving them as I should. I have let other things stand in the way of my love for them. ... My sins against my friends are many, for not returning or appreciating their acts of kindness, for disregarding their feelings so that I might regard only my feelings. My sins against Thee - against You have been numerous. I have been ashamed of Thee. ... God forgive me. I am sorry. God have mercy on me. For Christ's sake. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ." I kneeled there several minutes, not knowing what to do, except feel sorry for my iniquities.
Eventually I got up, undressed except for my underwear, got in bed, and thought about what I could do. "Lord, what will You have me to do."
- Lone Coyote Calls