My nightmare was bad, but then this happened

What I’m Too Afraid to Write

I woke in the middle of the night with a realisation about my worst fears.

Photo by Anderson Rian on Unsplash

I have always had a problem watching war films. When I went to see Hotel Rwanda, I started to sob and it wouldn’t stop. My whole body convulsed with the horror of it. It was noisy and nasty and disturbing everyone else. In the end I had to leave the cinema in order to regain some control.

I managed to sit through the film 1917 and enjoy it, but once the credits rolled the tears started. They came wet and fast. I had to sit and wait until the storm passed before I could get up and leave. Talking or thinking about the film would open the flood gates again.

One of my favourite books is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It took me a year to read this book. It is a fairly lengthy book at over 700 pages, but I read reasonably fast, and that wasn’t why it took so long. Once I reached a certain point in the book I couldn’t read more than a chapter without bursting into tears.

What do they all have in common? People abusing other people. A disregard for the hurt and harm caused. Dehumanising others in order to harm or kill them.

A soldier in a past life

I formulated a theory, half joking, that I must have seen war in a past life. That I have been the victim of some terrible injustice and this is seeded deep in my unconscious. When I see a war film or read about someone being abused then it triggers those past-life memories.

For my husband it is zombies. He can’t watch anything related to them without having nightmares. In fact it is worse than that, he has daymares. He watched Shaun of the Dead, surely an innocuous movie. Funny. Not scary. Afterwards he struggled to have a shower without thinking there is a zombie lurking behind the curtain.

I joked with him that he must have been a zombie in a past death.


The ultimate expression of my fear is torture. I cannot watch anything related to one human deliberately causing pain to another. There is something in me that reacts to this.

Last night I woke thinking about this.

I have had a fairly easy life. No one has ever tied me to a chair and tried to extract information. I haven’t been forced to fight for my country. So why do these situations create such a powerful reaction in me? Could I really be experiencing memories from a past-life? I don’t really believe in reincarnation.

And then a thought struck me that was far worse. Despite being under the warm quilt, I went cold.

What if in a past life I wasn’t the victim.

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