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Acting Out Dreams And Affects On Bed Partners

Discussion in 'Supporter Sufferers Symptoms' started by norsedork, Dec 21, 2010.

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  1. norsedork

    norsedork New Member

    Don't really know where to start, so here goes. Sorry it's so long, just a lot to explain.

    I am a gay female and my best friend is a straight male Combat veteran with PTSD. We have a very emotionally intimate friendship and I have been learning a lot about PTSD through the past year and a half or so of being close friends. Due to the amount of time we spend together, I am very aware the various symptoms he experiences and usually how to respond appropriately to them. One of his symptoms is nightmares/flashbacks during his sleep and acting out those nightmares (while laying prone in bed). Having shared hotel rooms and other living arrangements with him, I have seen this acting out of the dream occur and it doesn't scare or startle me because I know what it is. Unfortunately, an incident occured between us recently that neither of us have experience with and we are not quites sure how to handle.

    Recently, a snow storm resulted in my having to stay at his place for a few days and nights. Due to space limitations/options, we ended up sharing the bed at night. This initially was not a problem, as the bed is large enough for both of us to sleep comfortably and, while our relationship is platonic, we don't have a problem being in close quarters with each other. The first two nights were fine. He did talk in sleep and act out dreams, but if I gently moved him in another direction or stated his name a couple times, he was fine. The third night, however, I was awoken by him groping my breasts and whispering sexual things in my ear--all while he was sleeping. I was not able to wake or redirect him and since he is bigger and stronger than me, it was difficult to get out of the situation. I don't want to go into a lot of detail here, but a lot of groping and sexual touching occured before I was able to get out of his grasp and away from him for the rest of the night.

    We have always talked very openly about things in our friendship, so this was discussed immediately the next morning. He remembered nothing that actually happened between him and I during the night, but knew that he was reliving a specific day in his sleep, one which apparently included a sexual encounter with a woman he was seeing at the time. I am completely aware and accepting of the fact that he was sleeping and know that he would not do anything to harm me in any way were he awake. I do not hold any blame or contempt in my heart toward him over this. In this situation, I am able to separate his behavior from his character and the situation hasn't really changed things too much between us. In fact, now that he is more aware of how he may behave in his sleep, he is going to seek out treatment to help him with his symptoms.

    The issue now is that, since the incident, I have experienced "flashbacks" of a sort myself. I have had a couple dreams and sometimes when he and I are together, I will hear his voice in the back of my head whispering the things that were said that night during the incident. This is just a hard situation for us to navigate. We are used to discussing things like this openly, but I worry about talking about my feelings about the situation because he doesn't remember doing anything and can do nothing but apologize. I feel guilty bringing it up when I have feelings about it, because I know he has no knowledge of it. It actually feels like a completely different person was the one doing it to me.

    I don't know. The whole situation is just weird to navigate and I was wondering if anyone else had any similar experiences or insight. Thanks!
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  3. shadowchaser

    shadowchaser Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately I'm the weird sleeper in my situation. When my ex gets back I'll ask him if I ever made him uncomfortable at night and how he delt with it.
  4. Darkness Shines

    Darkness Shines Well-Known Member

    I had a similar experience, except it didn't involve sleeping, one of my male friends is bipolar and was so manic he wasn't clear on what has happening. He grabbed me and groped me in a very similar way to what your friend did. I shouted at him to stop and he did. It was definitely a little traumatizing for me, but we worked through it and now nearly two years later he remains my very best friend in the world. Oh, and he was beyond apologetic too. I think it was actually much more traumatizing for him than for me, because of the Guilt.

    Find someone to talk to about how you're feeling other than your friend. Another friend, a family member, someone here on this forum. Don't keep bringing it up to your friend. You're just going to make him feel guiltier and those of us with PTSD feel enough guilt as it is.

    And you were assaulted. Not by your friend, but by the PTSD. The same way I was assaulted by the bipolar disorder, not by Leo himself. So it's totally understandable that you're having some stress about it now.

    You should consider drawing a boundary with your friend as well, to prevent this from happening again, not just for your sake but for his as well. The boundary would probably be not sharing a bed. I did this with Leo, making a boundary of me not being alone with him when he's all the way manic. It's just safer for both of us this way. I'm sure your friend doesn't want you to get accidentally hurt again either, and will be accepting of that.

    I know that's not quite what you were asking, but I saw a major parallel and thought I might be able to help a little. I'll be here if you want to talk at all.
  5. shadowchaser

    shadowchaser Well-Known Member

    Well Darkness you actually answered it better then I could have. Talked to him and he said go to bed with armor on. Apparently all I do is punch and kick. He also told me that no matter what is anyone to get to close to me when they wake me up. I throw things.
  6. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt!
    Premium Member

    Sorry that happened to you. I really don't have much to add. Just wanted to say that I act out all of my dreams and nightmares. I've been known to get violent, sexual, sad, etc while sleeping. I have chased my son through the entire house before waking up! I also talk most of the night away. LOL. I warn anyone coming near my bed to wear body armor and never ever be close to me when I wake up! I'm famous for knocking people out when being woken up. I'm not sure how common it is amoung us sufferers but it doesn't seem that rare either.

  7. Mina

    Mina I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Perhaps it feels emotionally unsafe talking to HIM about it, but have you considered talking to a therapist or counselor about it instead? Someone who can help you work through your own feelings about what happened?
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