My favorite comedian, Mike Birbiglia, suffers from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder which means that he acts out his dreams instead of their just happening in his mind. It has to do with the neural pathways that paralyze the body during sleep malfunctioning. He shares about this in his comedy special Sleepwalk With Me as well as a book, a Broadway show, and biographical film. Some of these sleepwalking episodes resulted in injury and one almost killed him (defenestration: the struggle is real).
Just last night I dreamt that several Target employees and other shoppers kept pressuring me to us the Target delivery flatbed truck (which I’m pretty sure is not a thing) since they doubted my ability to fit everything I bought into my old Saturn SL1 sedan. Challenge accepted.
If I lived with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, I can imagine waking up this morning to discover the oven is meowing and it turns out that I managed to fit a shit ton of random items from all over the house in there along with our one remaining cat, Onyx, and I let him out and he walks off like nothing weird happened and I take a deep breath in relief that I wasn’t dreaming about cooking.
I don’t suffer from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, but I did have one episode that gives me a glimpse of what it is like for Mike.
Dabbling in domestic violence
I met my wife, Trish, in college. She was one of the many fine people I met when I started doing improv comedy and then added Theatre as a second major to English. One night, she and I were asleep in the tiny twin bed I had in an on-campus apartment. I had a dream about being bullied in high school, being held against a wall by two assholes while another (let’s call him Dick the dick) got ready to start punching me. In the dream, I snapped and head-butted Dick in the face, proud of myself for fighting back. Fuck that guy.
I woke almost immediately, as I almost fell out of bed, and saw Trish leaning on one elbow, facing me, her face covered in blood. It took a few seconds to realize what had happened. I’ve never been a good fighter. I’m still not. In this particular case, I had aimed a head-butt at Dick and hit Trish instead, which is just gushing with FAIL (and blood, since I had broken her nose).
Now that I think about it, if Trish had been wearing a helmet, she would have been fine. So, it’s just a little bit HER fault, right?
NOTE: This is a joke about how STUPID it is to blame victims of assault/abuse/violence. So, let’s knock that shit off, yeah?
When I went with Trish to the on-campus health clinic, the staff kept asking her if she was safe, suspecting she was the victim of an abusive boyfriend. Trish recounted to me later that it took her a while to convince them it wasn’t like that at all. You see, it was totally Dick’s fault.
Trish had to explain several times to the staff at the clinic that her boyfriend, Mark, was not abusing her. It was Dick the dick who was a dick to Mark, and Mark was finally fighting back against Dick the dick and Mark was asleep when he mistook Trish for Dick the dick and, thinking he was breaking Dick the dick’s nose in triumph, broke Trish’s nose instead by mistake. Could happen to anyone, really. I can’t imagine why they had trouble accepting this narrative.
Reactions from our friends hit Trish and me in different ways. You see, Trish, like all our friends, thought this entire situation was hilarious. They would make jokes and Trish would genuinely laugh while I retreated further and further into myself. I didn’t find any of it funny.
I had a really hard time forgiving myself for hurting Trish. Looking back, the dream had likely triggered some trauma from the high school bullying I endured from Dick and his friends. Combine that with having a terrible temper that I had worked so hard to gain some manner of control over and this entire incident was just a total shitshow for me. I still can’t laugh about it like Trish or anyone else can.
Food, folks, and fists
Meeting Trish’s family was harder for me than it otherwise may have been. I felt more pressure to make a good second impression since my first impression involved lots of blood. Trish’s paternal grandmother actually came up to me and touched my nose with her fist the first time I met her. Which, as I think about it, is pretty funny, actually.
If you follow this blog with rapt joy, you will have noticed that I typically wrap up with important connections and shit like that. I don’t have any for this one. My Depression has been super bad this past week and I needed to vent. I just wanted to write and share something. It helps me.