In these nightmares, I can smell blood. The scent lingers when I awake. I am usually being attacked, falling or scared in the nightmares. I cry in my sleep and I feel like I am trapped in my dreams. You know the sensation of falling and you know you need to wake up before you hit? This is how it feels to be stuck in my dreams. Often, Bryan has to wake me up. He says I talk and cry but it takes him a while to snap me out of it. I don’t think I have ever talked about it before but I think this is probably a common issue for wives of wounded warriors.
I have several dreams each night and I remember almost all of them. I can see new military helicopters and vehicles that I am sure had never been invented. They are bombing me or we are rolling over IEDs. I have always been a vivid dreamer but never did I have nightmares several times a week. I also have nightmares about the battle’s aftermath. I dream about being stuck at the VA or Walter Reed. In my dreams I relive the agony of dressing Bryan’s wounds. It’s something I will never forget.
The nightmares stop me from ever falling into a deep, comfortable sleep. Instead, I am a light sleeper. When Bryan’s legs move all night because he is sore, I feel it. I wake up immediately if he is having a nightmare and I don’t go back to sleep.
Until recently, I required ten hours of sleep per night because I was so exhausted. But the nightmares began the day after I received the devastating call that Bryan was injured. That night, I dreamt that his soldiers were also injured.
I saw images of what it might have looked like when Bryan was first injured. I saw the terrorist’s face that did this to him. I didn’t sleep for days, haunted by these images. Four years have passed and I had hoped the nightmares would be gone. But here I am, still processing my trauma through nightmares.