One night last week, I awoke from a very real dream. It was not horrible or frightening. In fact, it was quite ordinary. It was a very accurate depiction of the everyday exchanges that commonly occurred in what was once my life. As dreams go, things were slightly out of place and somewhat strange, but I understood.
In the dream, it was a crisp October evening. I was dressed in jeans and a sweater. He was dressed in navy blue dress pants and a white shirt. The accoutrements were missing from the shirt, as they often were in reality. Why we were together, as he came from work, I have no idea.
I was younger in the dream, the age I was the day we met, but he was his current age. We were at the library in the town where I grew up. It was the library from my Story Time days and evening high school study groups, but it looked as it did then, not now . I went upstairs to gather a few books. He went downstairs to read magazines. We agreed to meet at the front doors at 7:00pm, allowing an hour of free time. At about seven o’clock, I approached the large stained glass doors. I waited….and waited.
Familiar territory: the land of insignificance and blame
Just before 7:30, I began my descent down the wide stone staircase in pursuit of a reason for the delay. I passed the children’s section, and headed to the room that housed the magazines. I was irritated that I had been kept waiting, but was willing to hear his explanation. Maybe he lost track of time. I tried to remain calm, but my insides were churning, knowing that blatant disregard was responsible for my wait and that my experience would remain void of explanation, apology, or any decent form of acknowledgement.
There he was. Sitting as if he had all the time in the world and was the only one who mattered, he casually thumbed through one of many magazines he had selected. I asked if he knew what time it was. He nodded in the affirmative, with his eyes glued to the periodical. No eye contact. I asked if he remembered that we were to re-connect at 7:00. Again, an almost undetectable shrug in the affirmative.
When I realized that he knew of the plan and had knowingly disregarded all that was supposed to be, I felt my breathing quicken. Sensing my upset, he slammed the magazine down, glared into my eyes, and blamed me for not coming to him sooner. The fact that he did not follow through with the plan he initiated, under the terms he agreed to, now became “my fault.”
Glimpses of the slipping mask
Angrily, he stood up. Glancing about, checking to insure that no one was nearby to witness his rage, he quietly, but forcefully pushed the chair in under the table. He directed me to move out, and through gritting teeth snarled, “Another night, ruined by Linda. Are you happy now, huh, huh?” I remained silent while in the library, but tears welled in my eyes. I felt alone. As I passed the fireplace, its warmth, coupled with the emotional storm brewing within, left me feeling scorched.
I felt as though I were walking through a spinning tunnel where only I existed. Everything was surreal. The sounds were muffled as I made my way to the doors, with the exception of the loud thumping sound of the date stamp machine (the library was not yet electronic.) Once outside, the rushing river and crisp fall scent brought me back. The fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet, as I made my way to the car. I blocked everything and everyone from my existence, until I slid into the cold, gray leather seats of the “work car,” the one that was ok to leave out in the elements for several days.
The quest for understanding and justice
Then, it began. My search for sense amongst madness began. “Why did you blame me for that? I was waiting for you. How did I ruin the night? I didn’t want to ruin the night. It was time to go. What did I do? What should I have done?” The insane “hamster on the wheel” feeling reigned supreme. I was surfing on a rotating sit and spin. This was the “push-pull” of what used to be.
I kept talking and asking. I, so badly, wanted an explanation and understanding. I also wanted things to be ok. My questions met with silence followed by rage at “my behavior.” I think by now I was crying, confused by the state of the goings on, while he had nothing to offer but misdirected anger. I was sitting next to complete emptiness, caught in a spinning vortex of rage.
Although younger in the dream than in reality, my soul felt experienced. I felt abused and beaten from years of things starting out normal and morphing into disasters. I was exhausted from replaying seemingly benign occurrences repeatedly in my mind, trying to figure out where I went wrong.
We rounded the corner from the library. As we crossed the train tracks and headed for the village’s downtown, he exploded. “You are such a…(insert mean, vulgar, and insulting expletive.”) He raised his hand to me, with his accusing index finger in my face, a breath shy of grazing my eyes.
Back to reality
With that I awoke. At first, I was shocked and a little upset. How had I allowed this person to enter my dreams? Then, I settled in, once again, content. I NEVER have to live through scenarios such as these again. Not with him or anyone else. The understanding set me free, regardless of any residual nonsense that may continue.
Words and blame must come to mean nothing. We must accept that their belief systems and the “codes” that they live by are not only flawed, but perverse. We must no longer seek explanations for things we did not do – from anyone – including those they have lied to us about. Time will tell those tales.
Although, I don’t really need to re-live a snap shots of the craziness, I ultimately saw it as a positive reminder of the journey. Was the dream symbolic? Perhaps. Maybe there is reason behind my presence on the upper level, while he headed to the basement. Maybe it’s nothing more than my preference for books over magazines. I’m going to try not to read more into this than necessary. The simple truth is that this experience, good or bad, is part of me. To expect that this would never surface would be unhealthy. Dreams help us do the work our conscious minds sometimes cannot and can help us bring us order and peace. When an occasional dream, replaces the living nightmare, we can’t go wrong!