Rudy Sleeping

Rudy is afraid of sleeping in his room.

“I want to sleep in your bed Mama, I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared!”

With every declaration of “I’m scared!” an extra exclamation point is thrown in, an extra hard squeezing of the hands and tensing of the body muscles, and eventually, jumping up and down higher and faster with each rising crescendo of the fear thought.

“Shhh, you’re scaring yourself Rudy. Just look, you’re scaring your own self. Just come here. I’ll lie down with you.”

We laid down in bed and I just held him. A minute later he said, “Mama, aren’t you going to tell me something?”

“Tell you something? Like what?”

“You know, how you usually tell me things.”

“No, this time let’s just breathe deeply, and let’s feel our tummy’s moving in and out as we breathe.”

He put his hand on my tummy and I put my hand on his.

“I can feel it!” he said.

“Yes, take a deep breath in and a deep breath out and notice how your tummy goes in and out.” We giggled a little.

“Mama, look how far I am from the wall” – Indeed each night he sleeps at the very edge of his bed, away from the wall which as a child I always slept so close to for comfort, away from the feared unknown space at edge of the other side.

“Why are you afraid of that wall?”

“Because of the monsters that might come from there,” he said.

“First of all, there are no such things as monsters, but if there were, this is a wall – walls are made to keep things out. How can they get through a wall?”

“Because they’re monsters, you know, they have magic powers and things that can get them through”.

“Oh I see. Well, look Daddy is there on that wall protecting you. You have nothing to worry about. Look how he’s holding his boy.”

“Mama…”

“Yes?”

“That’s just a picture” – (Duh)

“Oh, well…still. Anyway, why haven’t the monsters ever come before?”

“Because” he said (taking me aback a little), they’re not real.”

We were silent again for a while. I tried to recall how I felt on all those sleepless nights I had as a child his age and older. Nightmare after nightmare would wake me from sleep screaming and crying, and night after night I would dread the moment the lights were turned out and my mother left my room. As far as I can remember I also didn’t believe in monsters – not rationally at least. But that didn’t seem to put a dent in the night terrors both before and after my eyes finally closed.

“Rudy, things aren’t really what you think they are. Actually, they’re not what I think they are either.”

He looked at me curiously, so I decided to go on. It wasn’t often that I found the calm within which created fewer words with greater clarity, weight, and meaning…at least to one who was receptive, and we both were – receptive and relatively still (inside).

“I mean, we’re both here in the same place right? And we’re both surrounded by the same stuff right? But you think that this wall is scary because it may have monsters behind it, whereas I think this wall is protective because it’s a wall and things don’t come through walls. So which thought is right?”

“Yours!” he declared quickly with a big smile.

“Really?  Why?”

Silence…with a smile – I could see the gears working…

“What’s the difference between my thought and your thought?”

“We’re different people!” he said not realizing how wise he really is.

“Well, our bodies might be different sizes and shapes, but they don’t see things differently…it’s our thoughts that make us different right? But why are my thoughts right and yours wrong?”

“I don’t know…but I can guess.”

“Okay, guess.”

“Because you’re big, you’re a grown up.”

“But grown ups get scared too, they just get scared about different things that’s all. Just look, do you know what the difference is between an opinion and a fact?”

“No.”

“An opinion is what you think, a fact is the Truth, it’s what’s actually IS, just that. So I think the wall is going to keep monsters out and I feel safe, while you think it’s going to bring monsters in and you feel afraid. But these are just our thoughts, what is the fact? The fact is simply the wall. That’s all either of us really KNOW. Here is a wall. Simple.”

His smiled.

“Okay, how about that stuffed doggy over there. I think he looks angry. What do you think?”

“He doesn’t look angry to me.”

“So what’s the Truth? That he’s angry, or not angry, or is it just that he’s there, as he is? Isn’t that the only thing we can really both agree on?”

“So the Truth is what we both agree on?”

Hmmm….clever. My mistake.

“No…look at SpongeBob. He has a smile drawn on his face. We could both say “SpongeBob is happy”, but neither of us can KNOW that he is happy. How can we possibly know that? The only thing we can both actually KNOW for a fact is that there is a smile drawn on his face, that’s all. Simple.”

Another smile.

Okay, now I’m going to go to my room.

“Okay, but Mama remember I told you that the dream catcher isn’t working? You said you would look it up and find out how to fix it.”

Dreamcatcher (2)

I had placed a dream catcher just above his pillow – a thing which he so carefully centered over his head with his body at the very edge of the bed to ensure nice dreams, or (as I told him was better yet), no dreams at all.

I just looked at his face and caressed it with my hand. I really wasn’t worried about what to say. I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t think “what if I say the wrong thing?”

“Forget about the dream catcher Baby. Be your own dream catcher.”

The thoughts that we have during the day, like the one about the monsters behind the wall, do you know what that’s like?

“What?”

“It’s just like a dream, only it’s with your eyes open. But it’s the same because it’s not what’s real, it’s not what’s actually here now. If you are asleep and dream that monsters have come from the wall, soon you wake and you realize ‘oh it’s just a dream!’ Now you just have to realize the same thing but with your eyes open. But don’t try to push the thoughts out of your head, instead, just don’t believe them. Do you know how to not believe them?”

“How?”

“Just look very closely at what’s actually around you. That’s all you have to do, and then you’ll find that the thoughts go away.”

“I don’t understand Mama.”

“If you look at that wall don’t think about it, just see the wall because that’s all there is. If you start thinking about what MIGHT happen then you will start feeling afraid and worried even though nothing has happened, there’s still only a wall. Why would you make yourself afraid of a wall when you don’t have to? Besides, if monsters did come out of the wall, you would simply get up and come running to my room screaming “Monsters Mama! Get them!!” right then and there wouldn’t you? Why should you worry about it even a second before?”

He nodded with considerable excitement and a huge smile which made my heart melt.

“So, be your own dream catcher Baby. Don’t depend on anyone else. The act of catching a dream is the only real way of waking up to the Fact – and a Fact is something which can never cause fear. Goodnight my Love.”

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I walked out of his room remembering the one line he spoke which said so much when I asked him why monsters have not come out of the wall so far. His response, “because they’re not real,” is the dull agonizing thorn that sticks deep in my side, irremovable as long as my mind continues to press upon it – believe in it. I know I stuck it into myself, and I know I can take it out. But I don’t take it out. I tell myself that I don’t know how to take it out. I’m attached to that agonizing thorn. I’m attached to my fear. Who will I be without my pain and fear?

Baby, catching dreams is not a matter of talking. It’s a matter of walking.

 

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