Sweet dreams are made of this

Daydreaming is not a very recognized activity. It is what losers do, those who only ever dream their lives and never live their dreams. People who talk like that, however, probably have a very unoriginal idea of what daydreams are. They think of middle-aged men who dream of being rock stars, or of the shy little wallflower who imagines one day a prince will come and pick her. Not any of the pretty, snotty rich girls. Her. The type of dreams that probably fall under the category “dreams of unlimited success, perfect romance…” The type of dreams that is attributed to narcissists. This connection, daydreams and narcissism alone, shows how much dreaming of stuff instead of doing it is looked down upon. Don´t dream your life, live your dreams, or else you are wasting your life.

What of dreams, though, in which I am kidnapped and tortured until one day I somehow manage to escape, just to be exploited by the media, hunted by paparazzi, and I always have to fear for my life because my abductors are still looking for me? Should I go live that dream, too?

And don´t tell me I´m sick. Kids make up stories like these all the time. When I was little, my girlfriends and I regularly played that we were being held captive by imaginary bad guys who wanted to destroy the world. They withheld food and water from us and left us in the cold and tortured us with electric shocks if we didn´t do what they wanted, but we bravely resisted until we almost died. And until my best friend hit the early stages of puberty, because then, all of a sudden, she decided that the bad guys´ leader would fall in love with her, she had to marry him and turned against me. Starving to death on your own is a tad boring, so this pretty much put an end to our games. Not to me making up stories like that, though. Really, masochism is just my excuse. I simply love to play the martyr.

Seriously, if my daydreams were sexual I wouldn´t feel this emotionally deranged. It is still somewhat acceptable to have reprehensible sexual fantasies. At least that way you can separate your sexual persona from your normal self – image. It is a typical case of “yes I can fantasy from reality”. You have your orgasm, and, wham, you are back to normal. You might be extremely grossed out by what you´ve just been thinking about, but what the hey, it´s just sex.

I, however, do not enjoy my wild west stories in a sexual way. I enjoy them in a narcissistic way. I enjoy seeing myself in a hopeless, painful, humiliating situation. It makes me feel pretty, special, important. Because even when I fail, when I´m spat at, lose, make a fool of myself, I´m still the hero. And then I work out how this could still result in a likely, believable happy end.  I have had deep philosophical debates with nihilistic spree killers while they held a gun to my head pondering whether to shoot me or not, I have negotiated with imaginary captors about what they will do to me for trying to run away, I have even slipped into the role of a shrink who tries to reach an unreachable patient. I don´t feel like I´m simply dreaming up a perfect life. I am solving problems – but just on a very theoretical level. Anybody who´s really been in a situation like this would probably despise me for even daring to assume I can imagine it – leave alone resolve the situation. Which is certainly not a comfortable place to be in. It might be one of the reasons for my constant, lingering guilt and shame. Why am I so fascinated, obsessed, absorbed with horrible things I know knowing about? For a while, I thought sexual deviation was the answer, but it seems to be a little more complicated.

I feel like I am far more deranged than people who dream about lying on the beach with a drink, showing off their perfect bodies, and suddenly their ideal partner comes along and they have hot, steamy sex all night. At least they don´t need to imagine anybody is dying or doing miserably in order to feel good about themselves. When I have to imagine that countless people are being brutally slaughtered just so I can stand up and play the hero…

Dunno. Maybe I´m expecting too much of mankind here, but I cannot shake the prejudice that the thought of bloodshed, murder and tragedy should scare you and make you miserable. A good, healthy human being would suppress those thoughts and return to the sunny day at the beach. I know how ridiculous this idea is, I mean, why do people watch horror movies, CSI, and even Rosamunde Pilcher?  Tragedy and murder has always been part of entertainment. Yeah, they might claim they want to see the good people having a happy end and the bad guys being punished, they want some kind of justice. Or they like to see people overcoming hardship and growing as persons. So their suffering is just a means to an end. Our enlightenment. Creepy.

I guess many people get around this dilemma because they say: “Uh, what the fuck, I can separate fantasy and reality. These are just stories. Told by actors. Nobody is really suffering.”

Yes.

True.

But what would we get out of it if we didn´t forget for a moment that it is not real?  

Hm…let me guess. Fuck all?

We do tend to get emotionally involved into stuff we watch on TV, read, or dream about, don´t we? It´s not just me, is it? We shout at characters in horror movies when they come up with the evergreen of dumb ideas, “let´s split up”, we start to act “super cool” after watching James Bond, and when we watch the end of Dead Poets´ Society we try very hard not to cry because it is soooo embarrassing to cry over a cheesy ending.

So even though we accept that the stories we get involved in are fictional, we do have feelings about them; and while the stories may say nothing much about what the world is really like, the feelings we have about them might say something about us. And here we go again. What does it say about me that I love fantasies of destruction, chaos and violence, about being the victim, the hero, the martyr? What does it say about me that I get excited (not sexually) at the thought of seeing a house fire (as long as it´s not my own house that´s burning) or a plane crash (as long as it doesn´t affect anyone I know)? Am I an abomination – or is everybody like that, somewhere deep down? Is all of mankind an abomination?^^

Either way…how do I/we deal with being like this? When you enjoy something bad happening (even if you are not enjoying it because you want the people to whom it happens to suffer, like, if you are just fascinated by plane crashes and still don´t actively want anyone to die) -uh, yeah, when you enjoy bad things happening as long as they don´t happen to you, that is, you know fully well that these things are bad – then you probably first feel guilty and then get scared that these things might actually happen to you. Irony of Fate! Would serve you kinda right, wouldn´t it?

Nice self-image you get from that. “I´m so fucked up I would absolutely deserve it if my house burnt down and my girlfriend died in a plane crash.”  Of course this is the same flawed self-centered logic, for what kind of an asshole is Fate if it makes others suffer in order to hurt you! Doesn´t seem right, and if I live in a world that is governed by such a reckless, immoral higher power then I refuse to feel guilty for having somewhat reprehensible fantasies. And if I don´t live in such a world…well, then what is there to fear? The complete randomness that comes with an absence of fate or higher powers. My house might burn down, my girlfriend might die in a plane crash, I might end up in a wheel chair, whether I deserve it or not. Being the messed up person I am, I would feel like I deserve it, though, which would make me very prone to rage, embitterment, shame, guilt and depression. The only comfort in this is that I´m pretty much that kind of person already. Rage. Embitterment. Shame. Guilt. Depression. Hearing scornful voices in my head whenever I´m already down.  Perceiving everything bad as a punishment for being an emotionally deranged, twisted drama queen craving for sensation. And so on.

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