I think there are stages we go through when our world view is turned upside down.
We all have our anchor points. We have a map inside our head that tells us what's what.
But, one day there is no Santa Claus and the next we've replaced him with a deity.
Things you are told, and taught and instructed about stick to your bones. It isn't a light switch you can flick on and off. It is a kind of realistic miracle that any of us can suddenly "realize"'
we are WRONG about anything; much less break free from our dependance on it. The easiest thing we do is make an immediate REPLACEMENT. But, that's not easy. Ex-cigarette smokers might become heavy eaters or drinkers. Ex-husbands and wives might suddenly find themselves deep in a new relationship that mimmicks the old rotten one. We are creatures of habit.
We live in a world that can scare us unless we have our "blanky". The thunder and lightning send us under the covers. We retreat under the veil of "pretending" something won't hurt us.
Philosophy calls that PRIMACY of CONSCIOUSNESS, which is just a fancy term for a mystical pretense that we can make things happen or make things real just by BELIEVING them.
I went through years of a phase whereby I was not a Jehovah's Witness anymore; but, for all practical purposes I still had the roots of the weed growing inside my head. In other words, I still thought the same thought patterns! My world view didn't change at all just because I stopped believing! Scary? Yes. But, it was a habit of thinking. A habit that was hard to break.
I find many ex-JW's who just go on believing almost everything in the same patterns--but--without the Watchtower Society connected to it. They jump into another religion or become bullish on debunking the Witnessess or just reading tons of anything that can give them THE ANSWERS.
That is understandable; but worthless. Why? Our dependance on getting THE ANSWERS from others is what got us in trouble in the first place. My view is this: nobody has a secret pipeline to absolute knowledge about anything. They are all pretending and then convincing themselves they are certain. What causes the nightmares then?
Your subconscious mind knows there are no BIG answers and no supernatural anything. Once you really admit that you are apt to be terrified. Why? YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN! You have to become an adult. That is a tough path to take. You get to make your own world without hand-me-downs from well-meaning (but misguided) others.
I recently read a most enlightening book by Karen Armstrong. It concerns the Fundamentalist mentality in the three great monotheistic religions. She made something clear to me for the first time. Humans need a mythos (a story that connects them to a timeless sense of constancy).
Religion plays that role. The rituals and bonding give us a sense of belonging to a fixed system of measures we can wield to protect us from change and uncertainty.
But, real life is change; constant change. Fundamentalists are terrified of change. They cling to a mythic past. The golden age is always long ago. The future holds only the terrible Great War of God the Almighty. Religious mythology makes us weaklings who must cling and cower under the protective umbrella of orthodoxy: right practices.
To wean ourselves away from that primitive view we must create our own new (and healthy) rituals. We must belong to ourselves in freedom. We don't cling to groups or gurus or HUGE TRUTHS; because those crackpot notions are unhealthy and feckless.
The Nightmares are healthy; they are the monsters of the ID breaking free from all the mumbo jumbo you've been told all your life. Once they break out of their unconscious prison and run away they just don't ever come back. I find I'm not longer afraid of the dark and can't get scared in horror movies anymore! It is all nonsense now and not boogeymen demons spying on me!
It is wonderful to be free. Rejoice in it. Embrace the fleeing nightmares and kiss them goodbye.