I was saved by a dream. Literally.
This is no figure of speech. I rarely ever remember my dreams and maybe this is a good thing, considering what the fuck kinda shit dwells in my subconscious. However, there was one unforgotten dream about several years ago that has had a tremendous impact on my life. In fact, after that dream I was never the same person -- changed me completely. And, get this: I don’t even remember its details.
Nonsense, you say? Read on…
About ten or more years ago, my life was imploding. Everything that I had worked towards, or valued, seemed to be unraveling. My marriage was on the rocks. Actually, it was barely breathing, it was waiting for someone to mercifully shoot it. I was in my senior year of my undergraduate studies and I had become so burnt out that I couldn’t retain any more information. A straight A student, my grades were plummeting and I was having a hard time finding meaning in it all. In addition, I couldn’t get a job to save my life.
It was a strange time, looking back, because though I realized things were coming to a head on many fronts, it seemed as if I were just floating around there for a bit. As if it were all happening, and I was there witnessing all of this, but unable to do anything about it.
Eventually, I divorced, barely escaped my senior year, and had to leave graduate school for a job and that’s where it all started. I was working for an East Harlem non-profit as a life skills trainer, when I met this young lady at the job. She was half my age, and I really didn’t think she was interested, but eventually she let her feelings known. Actually, what she said was, “Don’t you ever get it?” during dinner once. No, I’m dense and sometimes I don’t “get it.”
So it happens that I’m dating this really young lady and at first, my attraction to her was minimal. I mean, she was very pretty, intelligent, and we shared many common interests. We spent a lot of time going to museums, discussing poetry, reading books together, taking walks, etc. Still, I never felt any overwhelming feelings of love.
But I digress, I need to make my point…
Well, one thing led to another and she let on that her feelings for me were more than casual. I think the “L” word was mentioned or implied, and though there were red flags screaming all over the place (too complicated to discuss here), I allowed myself to entertain the possibility that the feelings were mutual. This woman was 25 years old to my 43. While the tired cliché that age is only a number may be true, my priorities and frames of reference were a lot different from hers. To make a long story short, eventually, she “fell out” of love and I was stuck in it. I had talked myself into love. We split and I was taking it pretty bad. Looking back, I realize now that what I had was an obsession, not love, but knowing that didn’t help my heart, if you know what I mean. I didn’t do anything overly stupid like stalk her, or act out on my compulsions, but I was in a lot of pain and anytime I said or did something idiotic or awkward, it was like adding insult to injury.
Things progressed and I end up like so: there I am, it’s a cold, rainy Friday night and I go home, just wanting to lay down and pull the covers over my head and sleep forever. I'm bemoaning the fact that after so much inner work, insight, and (supposedly) growth, I was still stuck on a fucked up pattern of behavior.
And that’s when The Dream happens…
I’m in deep pain and I go to sleep. Maybe it wasn’t just this girl, but the accumulation of everything that had been happening: divorce, stalled education, not being there with my son everyday -- I felt like I was in a boxing match and losing big time. I went to sleep shrouded in a profound and intense sorrow.
I don’t remember the specifics of the dream, the content, but the feelings -- Oh my God! -- the feeling is what I remember totally. In the dream, there is a woman in my life, I don’t know or remember exactly what she looks like. I vaguely remember only her eyes and her smile. But that isn’t important. What’s important is that in this dream this woman loves me in a way I have never experienced in my life. The love is so palpable, so real that I feel it infusing my whole being with joy, washing away my sorrow as if it were mere dirt.
I get this very real feeling of being loved so completely, so totally that it seems as if my very being is transformed on a cellular level. In the dream, this woman knows everything about me: from my most insightful thoughts to the most pornographic. She knows it all, the good and the bad -- everything -- and yet she still loves completely, without condition.
It's a total, pure love.
In the dream, I remember hearing her voice because all I remember is that she was walking laughing with some of my friends. But I get the real sense that she loves me and I am filled with this utterly unconditional love and I’m ecstatic. I am joyful in a way I have never known before.
Then I wake up…
And here is the kicker: the feeling in the dream? That feeling of being loved? It’s still there! I’m filled with this incredible joy that seems to come from the very core of my being. It’s not an over-the-top “gee-I’m-so-happy” kumbaya-type feeling, but rather a calm presence at my center, washing away my fears and doubts. It’s as if the woman in my dream connected me to the very essence of love itself.
I never tried to analyze this dream, but without thinking about it in words, a part of me sensed that that woman in my dream wasn’t someone else, but an aspect of myself. Really. I didn’t get this by thinking about it; I sensed/ felt it in my body.
At least that was my experience.
Since that day, yes, I have experienced sadness, anger, disappointment -- the full catastrophe of life -- but nothing, not even death, has ever taken away this joy at the core of my being. It is an invincible joy.
Perhaps I was mistaken about the nature of this dream. Maybe it wasn’t an “aspect of myself” that loved me in this powerful way. What if the dream was pointing me to a path? What if the dream was directing me to the opening of my heart because the more I open, the more this presence grows in my life. When I close and contract, I lose contact; when I open, the connection becomes stronger. Maybe the dream wasn't about me in the usual sense that I experience myself. Perhaps the woman in my dream was dissolving the fake wall that separates me from you.
Whatever the case, she was certainly the woman of my dreams...
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…