When I was a kid I had this recurring dream every single night for a while. I was terrified to go to sleep every night because I knew I would have the dream. I dreamed that I was walking through the front door of my house at night, then I would look to my right where my dads office was. I would see a shadow man sitting in my dads chair wearing a hat with a brim. I was immediately paralyzed with fear. I would try to run, but I’d just fall on the ground. I’d try to scream, but nothing would come out. Then he would stand up from the chair and I would wake up. One night I had the same dream but when I got to the part where I couldn’t scream I realized I was dreaming and I said to myself “just breathe”. In my dream I closed my eyes, relaxed by body, drew in a deep breath, then let out a scream. My grandma (in my dream) came running down the stairs and saved me. After that I no longer had the dream.

I had a lot of strange things happen to me when I was a kid. I would play in my room, but always had my back to the wall because I felt like someone was behind me. I heard voices saying my name. I saw things at night outside my door. I slept with my back to the wall and always slept with a dog. I was religious and would pray every night as a child that these things would go away and that I would be left alone. As I got older the activity started to go away.

Fast forward to my 20’s. I hadn’t dreamt about the hat man for a very long time and I am not sure if this series of dreams is even related to the same thing. I had left my church and considered myself atheist for a while, but when I was 25 I started stepping back into spirituality, but not through the church this time. I was rediscovering my own spirituality and was looking back on my childhood experiences again that I had refused to think about for a long time.

I had this series of dreams over the span of a couple months that went like this. I came across this old house and when I went inside I became stuck in there. The hat man took me into the basement. The basement was an entire community of people. The air was thick and heavy, muting all the sounds and forcing you to move in slow motion – Almost like I was under water. When I walked, it was like I was pushing against some sort of resistance that slowed me down. When I talked it sounded like someone had their hands over my ears. The hat man never spoke to me, but without speaking he told me I couldn’t leave. Then he just left and let me wander around. All of these people were stuck down here with me and the hat man had brought them there. Sometimes the hat man would take me into this room where there was a desk and he would sit behind the desk. I would sit in a chair in front of him (looked very similar to my dream as a kid). When I entered this room, the air was no longer heavy and I felt like I could breathe again. I could move freely and It was like a break from the thickness outside. I would sit in the chair and look out a large window. Outside the window was a dark stormy ocean with massive crashing waves. It was unsettling, but I preferred to be in that room, out of the thickness. Long story short, one day I finally escaped the basement and I ran back home (to my old house where I first dreamed about him). I ran to my dad and told him that I had been kidnapped and I had just escaped. I told him to come with me so I could show him where I had been held for what felt like months. He followed me to a house down the street and the hat man stood outside. I pointed and told my dad that was the man who had kidnapped me. My dad walked up to the man and started pleasantly talking with him like he was an old friend – like he knew him and they were just catching up. I was furious because this man had just kidnapped me so I walked up to them to say something. The hat man turned to me and looked at my forehead. I had a symbol on my forehead and he touched it, erasing the symbol, then said “you can never come back”. I haven’t been back since.

This dream took place over the period of a couple months. During that period I tried to paint something to capture what I had been dreaming. I still don’t know what to make of it.