CN: gruesome murder
Yesterday, we had our C-PTSD triggered by an online encounter. At first we didn’t realize it had been triggered and thought we’d done really well with it, but as the day wore on, our reaction got worse and worse.
We took the last of our propranolol and took care of ourselves for the rest of the day.
But then, last night, we had one of the worst nightmares we can remember.
It was also one of the least plural feeling dreams we’ve had, though it’s clear several of us experienced it while crofronting as we can remember it very clearly no matter how much we switch this morning.
Things in the dream started to take a sour turn when our mom deadnamed us. We corrected her, had mixed and complicated plural and genderfluid feelings about it, and moved on. The rest of the dream had nothing to do with that, though.
Eventually, we found ourselves visiting a gruesome art exhibit at an small, beloved, independent drama theater during a city wide gallery walk.
The conceit of the art show was that it was the work of a serial killer, incorporating the body parts of their victims into various furniture using resin. A number of our friends were part of the theater and there to appreciate the show, and one of our old highschool classmates was the artist.
We actually recognized everyone and could name them now, which made this dream even worse. In fact, part of what makes it so bad for us is that we know these “dream NPCs” are all system members, capable of fronting and all having their own dreams and motives as individual people. Which makes it confusing as to why any of us were participating in this dream, with what happened next.
The artist explained that they had actually murdered people and used their bodies as part of the show.
“Ah! Authenticity!” was the exclamation from almost everyone there.
And the theater turned gallery became all abuzz with cheerful excitement.
But before we, the frontrunners representing our system in the dream, could object or leave, the lights went out.
And when they came back on, there was new furniture, with several patrons and the original artist murdered and now part of the exhibit.
This only made our remaining friends excited about how it was interactive and participatory.
As the crowd began to talk about who the new murderer might be and speculate there might be several, this happened about three more times. Each time, there were fewer of our friends living and more furniture. New exhibit patrons would walk in the door and become part of the show.
Worried that we would be next, we finally left the building, confused and disgusted and horrified and genuinely feeling like our actual friends were killing each other for this art exhibit.
And then we woke up.
As we’ve been shakily going about our morning routines, near sobbing tears, we’ve been quietly processing this and trying to figure it out.
Historically, serial killer dreams haven’t been this viciously personal or deeply triggering, and seem to have proven to be a kind of kink dream for those who are not fronting. Those of us who front in such a dream who are terrorized by it are not there consensually. Maybe one system member sharing the front is, which brought us into the dream, but the rest of us got dragged along and must protest.
We’ve started reacting to those dreams by calling a halt to them abruptly and discussing consent with everyone involved, saying, “you can keep having these scenes while inworld, but you have to make sure everyone has given consent to participate. And practice good after care!”
We’ve had fewer and fewer such nightmares as a result!
This one felt very much like it was following a similar model. We felt some of the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd as if it was our own, and were horrified by it as well. This indicates one of our cofronters was into the dream.
We also sort of feel like the structure of the dream was reminiscent of our reactions to infighting we have seen in nearly every group of people we’ve been a part of or have observed. This infighting almost always stems from group politics, like it’s some sort of inevitable ritual that people end up taking too seriously. Maybe it comes from genuine personal motives and conflicts to begin with, but it always feels silly, pointless, performative, and tragic to us as we watch it unfold.
And it’s pretty clear to us that yesterday’s trigger event is related to that. It came from infighting from a group we’re part of, and invoked some similar feelings.
The brain works primarily by association. So, even independent actors within the psyche also behave and participate via systems of association. We all found ourselves part of the dream because the trigger reminded us of each other and all the other elements of the dream.
Even the deadnaming even was related, because the triggering event was on of invalidation.
The problem is that this dream was not therapeutic. All it feels like it did was perpetuate the triggered emotions.
But writing about it now has been good. It even allows us to talk about the general subject of group infighting without naming and describing the events of the trigger itself, which we don’t want to do publicly just yet.
Suffice it to say, though, fuuuuuuck.