Perhaps one of the most emotional dreams I’ve had in my life is this one. It had many layers; a dream within a dream. At the time I thought “this would make a great story,” but there’s no time for a book deal. There’s a heart to this issue. I have to address that first.
This was one of many dreams I’ve had about my marriage. Apparently, my perception of my place in this union is very different than I’ve let on. It has been suppressed into the subconscious mind, ignored…masked. This dream story is loaded with insecurity. Everything in italics is the fiction of that insecurity.
My husband met his first wife in junior college. She was thin, naive, innocent and blessed with long, naturally blonde hair that brushed the middle of her back. Everyone thought they should get together, but neither of them thought it would happen…until it did. They fell madly in love with each other. It was the kind of love that breaks down doors. Every afternoon after class they would meet at the running track and play in the field, having picnics, holding hands timidly like children and they loved as children love. He felt happier than he could stand with her. There was never a moment he wasn’t happy. He knew he could never live a day without her. Her name was Sarah.
They got married only months after meeting and no one contested the decision. It was obvious they were matched impeccably. It was love that really, truly lasted forever and it has. Even today, as he lays next to ME in bed. He looks at me and his eyes say, “You’re not Sarah.” I know this well. She died only 2 years later. How? He hasn’t told me.
It wasn’t long after the grief had subsided that he found Alice—the mother of his 3 children. She wasn’t Sarah either, but she was Alice. Their love was stable, rational, gentle…not tormented by too much passion or ecstasy. They needed each other in order to set a foundation for their lives. They were a great team. They managed their money well, and raised the children without hassle. She handled arguments with God-like patience and submitted to her husband without much resistance. She was plainer in the face, but beautiful in her love for nature and their garden. She painted wildlife and landscapes on occasion, but not perfectly. He loved her dearly because she was more than a good wife; she was a loyal friend and dependable mother…a strong woman.
Their love was middle aged and not prone to much excitement, but it carried them without mishap across 20 years of marriage. I am not Alice. I know this well. Breast cancer stole her away quietly into the pine trees flanking their happy home. He didn’t grieve her the same, but he walks the worn paths between those trees often.
It was on one of these walks (that I was with him) where he shouted her name: “ALICE! It never rains, it never thunders,” he lamented. “There is no lightening, nor even a breeze to remind me of you!” And at this proclamation I knew once and for all that his soul was broken. I am not the one who can repair it.
I want him to love me, but our love is particular. It’s “Vegas” love, I’ve come to know. The kind that just happens accidentally for no real reason; the kind of love that starts off happily drunk at the casino and ends with a new wife in your bed you don’t remember marrying. The only evidence of it being that $35 picture the camera man took of Elvis laughing at the altar. Instant regret. No, we didn’t get married in Vegas, but we might as well have. So, here we are.
My head is propped up on my hand. I’m laying in bed with the sheet around my chest. He is naked beside me and I’m shy because we’ve been married about 2 years, but we barely know each other. His pain is my cross and I haven’t really asked about it. He needs the sex. He needs my company. But does he love me? More than anything, I believe he’s content to have something, but not particularly enraptured by it. He’s fond of me by now, I’m sure. But I can’t be a good wife. I want to force him to tell me I’m Sarah, I’m Alice. I want to shove the words in his mouth!
At this moment, he is telling me his story and I’m fighting back tears as I realize I’ll never be them. I’m not his Sarah. I’m not his Alice. Just Teresa.
I wake up from the dream. I look over to my husband and realize none of it is true. I am, again, his first and only wife. I am Camille and none others have existed before me. “Wow, this would make a great book!” I think to myself. I leap out of the bed and run to get my notebook. I start jotting down points in bullet form on page after page. My husband gets up. “What you doing, baby?” he asks. I tell him and he comes to help me write it down, except he is painting the words down with a paintbrush and blotting out everything and I can’t focus. I’m starting to forget…
I wake up again. This time, into the real world, in my real bed, next to my real husband who is snoozing away without a care. I try to lay my head on his shoulder, but at this very moment he turns over on his side with his back to me. I know good and well that he is deep in REM sleep and it was an involuntary movement, but I can’t help but take it personally.
I stared at the ceiling and cried. I knew what it meant. I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that I should really look into this dream and address the insecurities my subconscious had transformed into that Nicholas Sparks style bullshit dream that had set the tone for the rest of my day…possibly week! I’m an emotional wreck.
Later that day, I ended up dying my hair black…You’re not his Sarah. You’re not his Alice. You’re just Teresa. My own sleepy narration keeps repeating the haunting statement to me throughout the day, and my tears are like isolated thunderstorms. UGH!
Now, typing it all out, I remember times when I have filled the places of all three of these women. I am all of them. Our relationship has gone through the many phases of that love story, and as time and trials have weathered us, our love has changed. The only difference is, hypotheticals make it possible for Alice and Sarah to be resuscitated out of their early graves.
They aren’t truly dead. They can’t be. I’m still here.