October 15, 2021 3 min read

It’s saved me from worrying about nightmares before bed

Cherry and I hanging out at the beach (Source: Nikki Waterson)

Nightmares

I’ve talked before about the nightmares I have. All kinds. And some that I haven’t talked about:

The ones where I’m caring for little creatures and I end up hurting them. Like crushing a 4-week old foster puppy in my hands. Or accidentally running over someone’s cat I was asked to take care of.

Sometimes it’s not even an animal. It might be a tiny premature baby. Or one I vividly recall was an adult man, so disfigured from a car accident that he was just a head and a spinal cord.

He was suicidal and I was trying to stop him from rolling in front of trucks, or off cliffs.

I used to cry at around 6 pm every night because I knew what was coming. But unfortunately, I also knew that wouldn’t save me from my nightmares.

So at around 7 pm, I would drink wine and cry.

And after distracting myself with being productive, at around 8 pm, I would drink wine, cry, and play a game — Dead by Daylight.

The first game

In Dead by Daylight you have two gameplay choices.

Be the murderer, or the murdered.

Be the horror movie-themed killer, for example, Freddie Kruger, and attempt to murder four survivors. Actual people — random strangers trying to escape.

Or be one of those survivors.

Of course, I chose to be the murderer during that horror-themed period of my life. And in hindsight, I can see a fascinating correlation.

Whether I play Dead by Daylight as a murderer or survivor is a clear indicator of whether I am feeling comfortable with going to sleep at night.

And I am grateful to say that I currently wilfully get murdered when I do play.

The second game

Cherry contemplating the meaning of life (Source: Nikki Waterson)

But what really helped more than anything, was when I started fostering Cherry.

Cherry is anxious. She doesn’t like to go to bed alone, and so when I start getting ready for bed she sticks by my heels.

It’s almost as if she thinks at any moment I’ll race into my bedroom without her. Then slam the door closed before she can come in. And that I’m going to yell ‘haha! Be alone!’

So that’s how the game starts. We get ready for bed together and eventually comes the time that I do walk into the bedroom.

She races in with me. And stands, expectantly, next to the bed. Because I have a tall bed, and she is about 30cm in height, and 14 years old with some arthritis.

So I lift her onto the foot of the bed — my side of the bed. Because that’s where she stands every time. And she immediately settles and snuggles down into the quilt.

And I say “You know what’s going to happen…”

And she looks at me with those innocent little sheltie eyes like “I have no idea what you mean! We don’t do this every single night!”

And then I pull back the covers and get into bed — around her. I put my legs on either side of her stubborn little body. Something I’m sure many pet owners are familiar with doing so that we don’t disturb our fur babies.

And every single time. She stands up and looks at me like she is just so offended that I would put my feet there.

And then she takes the 5 steps (she has little legs and it’s a king-size bed) to the other half of the bed, and curls up with a huff. Back to me. Like I shat in her cornflakes.

That’s the game Cherry and I play. The one that makes me laugh every night. The one that reassures me that Cherry is going to be there when I wake up.

And sometimes she’ll wake me up. Walking back and forth over my feet. Because she wants breakfast. She’s a funny dog.

I love her so much.

Cherry the Sheltie sitting on a couch next to a white shadow box frame around a white canvas with a watercolour portrait of Cherry on the canvas
Cherry the Sheltie sitting on a couch next to a white shadow box frame around a white canvas with a watercolour portrait of Cherry on the canvas
Cherry sitting next to one of her custom pet portraits from Paws for Giving (Source: Nikki Waterson)
A white shadow box frame around a white canvas with a watercolour portrait of Cherry the Sheltie on the canvas, surrounded by plants
A white shadow box frame around a white canvas with a watercolour portrait of Cherry the Sheltie on the canvas, surrounded by plants
20x30cm framed portrait of your pet on canvas from Paws for Giving (Source: Nikki Waterson)

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