August 23, 2011

Mind Games

I have an over active imagination, a la Anne Shirley. And so, I have fairly graphic dreams on a regular basis—ones that I can’t get out of my head, that seem so real that I wake up believing they actually happened for a minute. Sometimes these dreams are wonderfully pleasant, others are horrifically not-so-pleasant—you know, those heart-pounding, wake up sweating with a scream on your lips, sort of alternate realities. I know I’m not the only one who has them. But out of all of those dreams, that we aptly name nightmares, there are two types that truly and deeply disturb me. The first, I assume, is a result of my affinity for crime/police shows. What my grandma refers to as the “put ‘em up/shoot ‘em up” shows. From which my subconscious harasses me in my restful state with running away from terrible killers, who usually wield axes, for some reason.
This is the most common nightmare I have, although there have been, on occasion, the even more disturbing cases, in which I am the crazed murderer. I think this cannot be a result of my instinctively violent nature, but rather a product of my admitted imagination. I cannot help but to look at situations from all points of view. From these unnerving episodes, I wake with a jolt, out of breath and scared out of my wits. Eventually, I realize that it was another nightmare, and, knowing my safety is secured, I try to go back to sleep. And for a time, maybe fifteen minutes, every time I try to close my eyes and sleep, all I can see is a blood covered ax and all I can hear are curdling screams. As a kid, I would think of open fields and wildflowers with the summer sun shining high in the sky when I had a nightmare. I still use that trick, although it takes awhile for my mind to beat out the bad. I always assumed that these types of nightmares were the worst I would experience.

However, when I got married, I started having occasional nightmares that, believe it or not, leave me more disturbed than these murderous blood baths. And that is . . . (wait for it) . . . the cheating dream. In these, I am always left with the same perspective, my own. And my husband always plays the same part—the cheater. I hate to admit this because I feel in some way it’s painting my marriage in a terrible light. Like these dreams could be perceived as some tell-tale heart beating beneath the floorboards, announcing that I’m insecure or unhappy, neither of which is true. Last night, I had a particularly awful one, where my DH had a secret girlfriend near his office who he would visit every week. At a work function, a co-worker of his let it slip, and I pretended like I already knew, which of course, I didn’t. So, when I confronted him about it later, he very nonchalantly confessed, like it was no big thing, and flatly refused to stop seeing her. This nightmare was so vivid and real, that as I woke up, I lay in bed for awhile, struggling with the idea that I was going to have to leave him when I really didn’t want to. I’ve woken up from these dreams crying, they seem that real.

Although the circumstances have been different (once he wanted to marry a friend of mine, that one was really awful), he always acts the same, like why can’t I understand and just get with the program? Like he’s not the one with the problem—I am. I wonder if this somehow stems from one of my English classes in high school where I learned that Percy Shelley believed that monogamy was repressive and when his pregnant wife wouldn’t entertain the idea of having an “open marriage” as it’s now called, he left her—said she betrayed him. He was hurt that she wanted to limit the love of which he was capable to give, some nonsense like that. And she was so overcome with grief that she jumped off a bridge into a river and killed herself. I remember being sort of disturbed by that story, and I can’t help but wonder if all these years later that story is what haunts me, rather than some latent fear that my marriage is not on sound footing.

What’s weird is that these dreams didn’t start until after I got married. Like my mind knew when to flip a switch that would really get to me. I mean, I dated, I had boyfriends—why didn’t I have cheating dreams then? Was I really just so convinced of my boyfriends’ devotion that my mind would never have thought of a cheating scenario? Or is it really that I’d never cared for someone as much as my husband. I’d never been in a relationship before where I really felt like life would not be worth living without him. Perhaps that was the trigger. Like my subconscious knew how much actually experiencing (well . . . in my head) that situation would devastate me. It’s funny too, because I never worry about my DH cheating. I seriously never do. So, it’s like my nightmares remind me that it’s possible. And if you look at it that way, then maybe my subconscious is really doing me a favor. Because after I wake up from this horrible, unthinkable situation, I am so relieved and thankful to realize that it’s not true. That instead, my DH is the exact opposite: loyal, devoted, loving, and coming home to me every night. Maybe in the end, it makes me appreciate him more, literally makes me remember what a great person he is, what a wonderful husband and father and friend he is. How’s that for a silver lining? So there—bring it on, mind, bring it on.

1 comment:

Britta said...

Cam, you're not alone! Except I take it to the next level and wake up infuriated at my husband. I can't even look at him either...I don't know why I get mad at him for something he didn't do in real life. It sounds so silly, but I can't help it!