I come from a family of dreamers. And no, that’s not a cute thing.
We’re literally dreamers. We have weird, psychologically deep, physically exhausting dreams.
My mom was the first one. She dreams in sagas. And they’re just true enough to be disturbing. When I was a teenager she dreamt someone had cut off one of our chickens’ heads and was running around the house with it in some pagan ritual dance. This was just around the time Grandpa had come over to butcher some roosters (a disturbing event in its own right) and so bloody, still-moving chickens were on all our minds. Add that to the Biblical idea that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” and Mom was concerned. I was concerned. I’m sure her dream had some kind of sequel, because all her dreams do, but I don’t want to know what it was.
And then there’s my husband. My dear husband, who fights wars and monsters and once jumped out the window in his sleep. At least once a week I’ll greet him with a “good morning! Wanna know what you said to me in your sleep last night?” I used to worry he’d think I was an enemy and try to lop me off, but he recognizes me in his sleep. So while he’s screaming and cursing and thrashing and waving through the air trying to fight attackers, he’s doing it to protect me. And I think that’s sweet.
I have recurring dreams. They play like video games, in which I know what will happen because it did last time, and it’s just a matter of being prepared this time. Then the volcano erupts or the demon attacks before its supposed to, and I grow irate. “You weren’t supposed to do that for another five minutes!”
One recurring theme in my dreams is choosing between two people I love. For years now I’ve regularly dreamed that I have to choose between Alex and another suitor. And all throughout the dream I’m conflicted: they’re both so endearing. I made a commitment to Alex, yeah, but this other guy is so dreamy (pun) and so nice and has many of the qualities Alex has too. Then I wake up and realize: BOTH THE MEN WERE ALEX.
This week I had the same dream, but about someone else. I dreamt that I had to pick between my best friend and a new friend, and it was a rush against the clock because I knew if I didn’t choose which friend to keep, my best friend would choose, and I just knew she wouldn’t choose me. I’d be friendless. It was the silly, childish thing where you can only have one friend, and it was reject or be rejected. Then I woke up and realized: BOTH THE CHICKS WERE MY BEST FRIEND.
This interesting variation on the love triangle dream set me thinking. (I’m becoming my own dream psychiatrist.) In both the love triangle and the friend triangle I’m afraid. I’m trying to hedge my bets, trying to make sure I won’t be stuck with someone who won’t love me forever. I’ve felt this very same thing in real life, in both making friends and getting married. Putting people in your life and committing to them is a terrifying gamble. There are so many sides to a person, so many sides to yourself, and some days they’re more happy with you than others, and vice versa. And there is nothing keeping anyone in your life but sheer will. Nothing keeping anyone in your life but sheer love. I can’t think about it too often. It’s terrifying.
But apparently my brain thinks about it even when I don’t. It dreams about it. It stresses me out for hours a night, until I wake up and realize there never had to be a choice in the first place. Both the men were Alex and both the friends were my best friend. On both bad days and good days, it’s still the same Alex, and on bad days and good days, it’s still the same friend. And the choice is not which side of the person to love, but to love all sides equally. Just as I want to be loved for the many sides of myself.
I got Alex some dream dictionaries, mostly for laughs. “Now we can figure your brain out,” I told him. But since he hasn’t jumped out of any windows recently, perhaps he doesn’t need the books. Perhaps I should start reading them for myself.