I am so happy to have found this forum, because I've never understood what's been happening to me and it's taken strange turns lately. Please let me know if you think this is lucid dreaming or astral projection, and what you think it means. I apologize for the length, but this has been going on for my entire life and until I read some of the comments here on LD/AP I thought it was just a weird coincidence of dreams. It still might be, I suppose.
To begin, when I was in elementary school, I had my first dream of flying over a foggy nighttime landscape. I had separate, more normal dreams as I grew up, but even in these I could freeze time, "rewind" the dream, and change parts of the dream to ensure I escaped pursuers, etc. But the flying dream was the same: I felt happy, I knew it was a dream, and I would fly over huge, empty scenery, always at night with a little fog. I never met anyone or anything else during these flying dreams.
Long story very short (I'm in my 30s now), I lost the ability to change parts of normal dreams by my early 20s. For the flying dream, in my mid 20s I saw my first person in my flying dream other than me. I asked "What are you doing here?" (It was a friend) and then I woke up.
Around the same time I began being able to realize when I was in a nightmare, and concentrate on my body in the nightmare and float myself up and out of the situation and head off flying, again, into the usual foggy and nighttime scenery, aware all of this was a dream. The odd detail here is that I have to carefully focus on the concept of lightness in the beginning or I don't start floating, and if I lose focus I start drifting down again.
After "escaping" like this, I've been attacked on several occasions, sometimes by human-looking enemies, sometimes not. Both times I was able to fight off and destroy my attackers, once by choking and once by, for lack of a better word, "disintegrating" it by getting the random idea to concentrate on that happening. I have also been spoken to by kind-seeming non-aggressive humans(?) on two occasions who have asked me to stay and talk to them, which I don't do out of fear.
These flying dreams have gone from happy things to ones I dread, because now these flying dreams always begin with me "waking up" in my bed, just as if I were awake, to a horrible sense of dread or nightmarish things happening. When it's the dread and nothing's actively happened yet, the only definitive way I can tell if it's a dream (or AP?) is by pinching myself hard or looking carefully at details (sometimes the light switch will have two switches instead of one, etc.). It's gotten to the point that if I wake up in the middle of the night for any reason, the first thing I do is pinch myself.
When I have normal dreams, I have never had regular dreams in the sense they mirror reality closely, but these particular flying nightmares all start with near-perfect replications of the room I sleep in. The dread hits me as I realize I'm dreaming (or awful, frightening things start to happen), and I concentrate until I can fly up and out through the window or walls. I can then fly around until the dream fades. I now encounter someone or something almost every time, and it's 50/50% if they mean me harm or not.
The negative "others" I've been running into have been getting more and more aggressive and I'm concerned at this trend in the dreams in the last few years. The last dream I had, when I sat up in bed, a giant red eye was staring into my window, taking up almost the whole space of it, so in that case I didn't even get to LEAVE the room before I encountered something. I slipped past the eye and flew off, in that case, outrunning a person that started following me.
What does all this suggest to you? Is it just an odd series of normal dreams? Is it AP/lucid dreaming? Is there anything I can do to make these experiences positive again if it's AP? If it's just lucid dreaming, is this some unresolved thing in my life?
I spent a couple of hours reading related threads here on the forum, and some people suggest praying for protection, etc. before projecting but I'm not doing this consciously so I don't "gear up" before it all starts.
Again, my apologies for the extreme length, and I appreciate any help or thoughts anyone can give. Thank you very much for reading.