Last night I had a strange dream. It was about a man I know. I had a dream that he had a quiet affection for me, and when nobody was looking, he kissed me on the side of the mouth. And I felt happy. But then he disappeared to another country with no communication, and everyone said, “I told you so.”
And I said that just because it ended, doesn’t mean I wish it had never happened. That I was glad and grateful for what was, and felt no regret. But then he came back… and I was very happy.
* * * * *
Of course, I woke up feeling very strange to have had a dream like that about someone other than my husband. I mean, the truth is, I don’t have to dream about my husband. I already know him so fully in my reality.
But instead of pushing my feelings away and deeming them “wrong,” I want to consider then for a moment. Because I think they may be profound.
I don’t think they are about him–the man I know, we’ll call him Nathan*. At least, not the reality of him. Because, in everything I know about Nathan, he’s not the person that appeared in my dream.
I remember the feelings, because those are always the strongest elements of my dreams. What I remember feeling from him in the dream was that he loved me in a quiet and sweet and romantic way. He was enamored with me.
The man in my dream, disguised as someone I know now, is really my first love–Patrick*. Or at least, who I thought Patrick was when I was with him.
I think my infatuation with Nathan (in real life, and probably the reason for him ending up in my dream) lies in the fact that he reminds me so much of Patrick. He exhibits so many similar behaviors in his interactions with me. And my memories of Patrick have such a strong pull because my relationship with him was the first time I truly felt wanted.
And so it gets confusing. Because of course what I have now is better. But I learned a wrong way when I was very young. A manipulative & dishonest way that looks perfect on the outside.
It was too good to be true because it wasn’t true. It was love with the promise of no imperfections. And I accepted it because I didn’t know any better. And it’s very hard to unlearn that.
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Another interesting part of the dream, of course, was that I said I didn’t regret being with Nathan (who is actually, probably Patrick) just because it ended. That feels profound to me.
I’ve had many loves in my life. I always discount a lot of them because we didn’t “officially date” or whatever. But we shared something. We shared a form of “love.” We shared mutual affection & caring & hopefulness for more…
It seems like it would be so freeing to embrace it all that way. To embrace the different “love” I shared with each of these people as part of my story, as love that I got to experience.
Each person on this earth is special. And it was an honor to be able to share an imperfect form of love with each of those men from my past. In each instance, we were both trying. Both hoping. Both being vulnerable and sharing our affection with the other. And that is beautiful.
I should not hate any of them or any of it.
* * * * *
And what now of the fact that I have chosen to only share romantic, intimate love with one person for the rest of my life?
That is beautiful too. In another way. We have taken what we know about life & each other, and have made the choice to invest in one another for the rest of our lives.
No one is making us do this. It is something we have chosen to do.
It’s the form of love we want. We could alternatively continue having many imperfect love experiences with other people. And I don’t know that I cherished that when I was going through it, because I was always worrying that I was doing something wrong. Or that I needed to hurry up and find my lifelong love.
Lifelong love is beautiful and fulfilling. But so are short-term loves, if only in a different way.
* * * * *
Every person you get to share any sort of love with, is an honor**. They are a unique person, and you have (or had) the privilege of getting to see their vulnerability, their self. Cherish it, and cherish them. Be grateful to them for any part of their self they chose to share with you. They did not owe you anything.
*Names are changed for obvious reasons
**Except in cases of abuse (aka, not love)