04 February 2011

All Figured Out

In my dream tonight (the early morning of 4 Feb 2011) I found myself walking into a large church building, more like a corporate-style building than a church, really, like one of the Institutes of Religion. I sat down in the back of a large Elders' Quorum meeting next to several male friends from my past and present. There were probably a hundred or so men in the meeting, and I felt both at home and like a visitor. The discussion felt empty, organized but devoid of the meaning it once held. They joked about how good the lesson was and tried to relay it to me, since I'd missed it, but I didn't really care to be caught up. It sounded like it had been very canned with a few typical sports analogies and pop culture references to make it funny/relatable but without any real depth.

I knew there was a likelihood [he] would be there, probably towards the front, but I didn't look for him or hope he'd find me in the second-to-last row. I didn't hide, either. I just was there. I realized this was not home, nor was he any longer, and it was OK: I was just visiting.

I found myself wondering if he'd received my extremely long e-mail message in which I laid out what I'd been through emotionally/mentally before and after the break-up and inviting some clarity from him if he was willing, or at the very least leaving the door open to some kind of future friendship when/if possible, or whether it had gone into his Spam mail because he'd marked my e-mail address as Spam when we said goodbye.

The meeting adjourned, and everyone was to head downstairs for a huge ward meal. They called the downstairs the 'restaurant,' which I thought was funny. Even ward meals had taken on a corporate aspect. A female friend walked into the cultural hall, where the Elders' Quorum meeting had been held, and asked if I would be joining them for the meal. I both was uninterested and figured that just in case [he] was there, I'd encroached quite long enough, and I informed her I wouldn't, that I was heading out right now. And that's when I saw what I knew was the back of his head. My friend and I said good-bye, and I made my way out of the nearest door of the cultural hall. And I heard faint footsteps approaching behind me.

I thought it might be him. I didn't want to look like a pathetic lurker who had hoped to be spotted, so I tried to quickly but casually make my way outside of the building. But as I exited the cultural hall into the foyer, my legs went rubbery, kind of like when you're being chased by a madman with a gun or by a monster (something I haven't experienced in many years). There was no terror or dread, just rubber legs whose uselessness I cursed as the footsteps drew nearer. By the time the footsteps reached me, I was scooting along an interior wall towards the doors on my rubbery knees, legs flopping as I tried to stand on them. It was quite a sight. Then the footsteps passed me, and their owner walked on by. It was him. He didn't stop. He was on his way to a drinking fountain. I thought I should probably be sad, disappointed, or hurt that he didn't even bother to say anything or didn't notice me, but I was OK with it. I didn't want to force contact, anyway.

My legs recovered their strength, and I open the doors to step outside just as he came back around the corner. I looked forward so he wouldn't feel obligated to stop, not knowing I'd seen him, but he spotted me and followed me out. Now, his hair was clean-cut, and his face and features more slender or delicate than in reality. He was actually more "my type" in the dream. He looked at me with a fairly blank expression and held out his hand with arm fully extended for a handshake. I was not surprised, and I was not hurt that I could see that he genuinely didn't want a hug, that he was not fighting any desire for one. I shrugged inside and gave him a quick handshake and kept making my way to the staircase down to the parking lot. He walked beside me, keeping a distance, with his hands in his pockets, very businesslike, very composed, very plastic. Other than that, he seemed like his usual, kind self. He just seemed more 'together', more 'mature' in that phony 'quiet dignity' kind of way which I am never quite convinced by, but it was OK. He seemed well, and that was good to see. And I could see that he wasn't angry and apparently hadn't thought I was trying to win him back, which was good. Then he simply said, "You really wanna get everything figured out, don't you?"

I gritted my teeth as I knew the subtext behind that statement, the assumptions and the belief that I was trying to "control" my emotions or the situation. I replied, "I don't have any illusions about figuring everything out, but yes, I like to figure out what I can. Most things, I may not ever know. But it's not just about knowing it all: I believe in communicating my thoughts and feelings, tentative though they may be, and giving others the opportunity to help clarify or add their perspective to fill in the picture for understanding if they're willing. I believe you can learn and improve from things like that. I believe in trying to lay out the pieces and try to put them together in a way that makes the most sense rather than trying to make the pieces fit into a canned answer, even if that would be easiest for me emotionally."

I glanced over and saw that his face showed he maybe hadn't thought of it quite that way because he had tried to fit what I was doing into preconceived molds he had, but that he was still quietly, confidently self-assured about his own perspective. I was fine with that; I'd expected it. And I knew that I was likely making just as many assumptions about his perspective by 'expecting' a certain response from him, which had been one thing I wanted to clarify about my email: that while I was concerned that he might be thinking certain things, I recognized that those concerns might be completely misdirected or off-target...and I decided it doesn't matter at this point. So I let go of the irritation at that having been the only thing he said to me.

I felt like I was walking with a shell of an old friend for whom I had no more romantic desire and towards whom I now felt something like indifference, with whom I now had some clearly irreconcilable differences, and it was OK. I didn't need to figure it out or resolve anything anymore. I had shared my thoughts and feelings, and that was enough. As I continued descending the stairs, I realized he was gone. He had simply faded away as we walked. And I wasn't relieved or sad. I just kept walking home, at peace.

As I awoke prematurely, a bit puzzled by the whole scene, I thought, "How strange that this is my first-ever dream of him."


jimf said...

> In my dream tonight. . . I saw what I knew was the back
> of his head. . . I heard faint footsteps approaching
> behind me. . . It was him. He didn't stop. . .
> I thought, "How strange that this is my first-ever dream
> of him."

This isn't strange at all in my experience. My dreams of
an LO have always begun in earnest after a final rejection
by that person. (The only thing I find strange in your
story is the amount of detail and consistency in your
dream -- mine are never that coherent, plot-wise, though
they are often quite coherent in emotional tone.)

My dreams have historically followed a similar theme.
I'll be at a party, moving from room to room, and the LO
will always have left the room just before I arrived.
Or I'll be walking down streets, seeing (or feeling)
him in the distance, but the quasi-phantom will always have
disappeared around a corner long before I catch up.
Or I'll be in a house (the house will often be based on
the house of my earliest memories, my paternal grandparents',
but the guests in the house might include people from
any era of my life), and LO will be among the guests,
but he'll always be just out of sight, upstairs, behind a
closed bedroom door, or out in the yard -- a felt rather
than seen (or heard) presence, or maybe just distantly glimpsed.
Or I'll be at work (again, a composite of workplaces
from all eras of my life, or one based on a job
from decades ago), and I'll be aware that LO is
down the hall, or in the office next door, or even at
the next desk, but he won't quite ever be in sight
(though I might have an anticipatory feeling that he might
show up at any moment, and I'll have an attitude of
surreptitiousness, an anxiousness not to be seen or
noticed by him). Or I'll have a plan to corner LO for lunch,
to talk things out, but I won't be able to contact him
to make the appointment, or he'll stand me up.
In a dream from the more recent past, I was on a vacation
(perhaps to a house like the one described above), and
I had driven there with LO, but we were no longer speaking,
and I learned he was leaving early, and somebody (one of my
aunts?) was asking "Aren't you going back together?",
and then I watched from an upstairs window as he
disappeared into a crowd on the street below on a
corner waiting for the bus.

In my own experience, these dreams are never one-time
events, they repeat over and over in various (similar enough)
guises, with gradually diminishing frequency as time
passes after a rejection, but liable to recur anytime, even
years later. Sometimes the phantom in them will be my
most recent LO, and sometimes one from the past, or
a composite of LOs from different eras.

The emotional hangover from such a dream is very intense --
I've woken up in tears. The aftertaste is of grief
and loss.

Original Mohomie said...

Interesting. As for me, I didn't have much "emotional hangover" at all from that one. I've dreamed of him once since then, and he was trying to make out with me, and I kept trying to get him to back off so we could talk. When I woke up, I just smirked and shrugged. :-)