Happy Nightmares

The Horror of Dreaming about Those who Hurt Me

I find myself sitting here typing, half fuzzy from sleep, because I know that the longer I let my consciousness seep in, the more my dreams will fade away.  My first feelings upon waking were contentment and peace, followed immediately by blinding hot rage at myself as reality hit me squarely in the face.  I began to cry.  Still in bed, wrapped in my comforter, I logged into facebook and messaged an old friend I’ve known for almost two decades and asked “What the HELL is wrong with me?”

To say that this dream threw me for a bit of a loop is like saying the Titanic had a minor sailing malfunction.  To make matters worse, I woke up feeling a sense of happiness, like my subconscious had amnesia and forgot everything I’ve been through.  I don’t think I can fully express my disgust until I explain the snippets of my dream that are still fresh in my mind:

In my dream, I ran into my ex.  I remember him having faded hickeys on his neck.  He smiled a playful smile and winked upon seeing me, but there was a sadness in his eyes.  For some reason, we began to talk.  He admitted to not being as happy as he thought he’d be with her and threw out there that he missed me.  Without a second thought, I told him to come home.

In my dream, I let him touch me again.  I let him make love to me and I kissed him back.  He wanted to come home.  He wanted me again.  I felt happy.

There were more details to the dream, other people around, other things going on, some completely obscure and nonsensical.  I began to discard those tidbits piece by piece as irrelevant, letting them fade into the wasteland random dreams go to to die.  Yet the fragments involving my ex sat freshly in my mind, leaving a horrible taste in my mouth and an ache in my heart.

That any part of me still held onto fond thoughts of him blew my mind.  While we did share some good times, this was the man I let in closer than anyone else only to have him shatter me so badly that I fear I will never completely recover.  He not only cheated again and again, crumbling what little self-esteem I had managed to muster over the years, but he also took advantage of my vulnerability, manipulating me into believing his actions were always my fault.  He made me an ongoing joke for his friends and his lovers, ultimately abandoning me for his newest conquest on the very day I came home from the hospital diagnosed with a myriad of serious health problems needing to be addressed, some serious enough that surgery was needed.  This was the man I spent eleven years with and gave all of myself to, only to be discarded like I was garbage.

Was I that lonely that a small part of myself wanted him back?  I truly miss having someone there, someone to snuggle and share my life with, the good times and the bad.  I had tried dipping my toe in the dating pool after he left.  I joined a dating site only to discover that the majority of men on there were only looking for casual hook ups.  I had found what I thought were a few diamonds in the rough, each either ultimately fizzling and fading away or misrepresenting themselves completely.  I had a couple long-term friends express an interest in me, as well, one even stealing a couple kisses – the first romantic kisses I had from anyone other than my ex in many years.  Nothing became of any of it.  I am still glaringly single.  However, I have trouble believing that any part of me would sincerely want to return to my ex no matter how lonely I feel. While admittedly I find dating right now intimidating,  I’m better off alone than I would be with him.

Was I that starved for intimacy that part of me desired him?  I’d be lying if I claimed my hormones weren’t all over the place these days.  There’s days I feel like an animal in heat.  Other than those two fateful kisses, though, I’ve not had anyone touch me since my ex.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about it because my hormones have been raging. They remained thoughts, though, never actions.  It isn’t that I’m a prude that doesn’t enjoy intimacy – I just want it to be something that is shared with someone that matters to me, rather than just anyone for the sake of having someone there.  Perhaps my mind is holding tightly to my intimate past with my ex because it is all I knew for so long – his touch was familiar and he knew my body well.  I refuse to believe, though, that any part of myself truly still desired his touch.  He has treated me again and again like I was worthless garbage.  Sharing myself with him at this point would be like agreeing he’s right.  As much as I crave intimacy, I deserve to have it be with someone who truly values me and adores me.

Was I that dysfunctional at heart that part of me desired to return to a relationship that toxic and unhealthy?  Was I that much of a masochist?  I grew up exposed to one dysfunctional relationship after another until I sincerely had no idea what normal was.  Even as a child, I believed people got married to argue.  At six, I had a play wedding in my backyard with a boy from down the street who I could not stand.  We fought the entire way down the aisle.  Could I be subconsciously clinging to the dysfunctional, codependent relationship I shared with my ex because unhealthy was all I knew?  This is not a case of the devil I know being better than the devil I don’t.  I’ve had enough hell for a lifetime.  No more devils for me, thank you.

My friend reminded me of psych 101 – that “…faces are meaningless in a dream, the subconscious mind will pull in familiar elements to fill in the gaps in a dream.. …it will take some time to cleanse your subconscious…”, suggesting that my mind chose to fill those gaps with my ex because he was what I knew and that I missed the safety of the relationship, not my ex himself.  My rational side wants to embrace that explanation yet it felt as if every supposed gap was filled completely by my ex: His mannerisms, his words, his touch, I knew them all well.  It’s largely why this dream made me so irate – that any part of me might think back tenderly and want him to come home feels completely ludicrous and absurd in the harsh light of day.

As my dream continues to fade farther and farther into that foggy, forgotten wasteland, that horrible taste remains heavy in my mouth.  My rage has begun to subside as I continue to reassure myself that, regardless of what my subconscious might consider, my fully conscious self would never welcome him, let alone allow him a place back in my heart or my life.  I know so many people put a lot of stock in dreams, whether believing them outright as omens to come true or looking for hidden meanings within.  Despite that momentary feeling of happiness as I first woke, this dream truly haunted me, leaving me feeling confused, fearful, angry and distraught.   I refuse to believe that this dream was anything beyond a nightmare meant to shake me to my core.

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