When Your Dreams Chase You

nightmares, divorce, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherI’ve been having trouble sleeping again, Modern Philosophers.  Some of it has to do with the weather, the stress brought about by the pandemic and turmoil in our country, and a fear that things might only get worse after Election Day.

But I’m putting a lot of the blame on the return of my recurring nightmare.  This is the dream that I cannot shake after fifteen years, and it just keeps returning far too often albeit in a slightly different form.

As always, it was about J announcing that she was leaving me, and my predictable reaction of total panic as I desperately try to win her back.

Again, I will remind you that I’ve been divorced for over fifteen years.  It’s been so long that I don’t even remember the exact year it happened.  I never see my ex-wife, we never talk, and I in no way pine for her or wish to reconcile.

For some reason, however, I keep having nightmares about her.

This time, I was in an airport in Chicago.  We’d just gotten off a plane, and I couldn’t find J anywhere.  My jacket and luggage were also nowhere to be found.  I ran through the airport searching for her, but to no avail.

When I finally thought to call her, I got a voicemail that announced she was leaving me, she would be staying with her mother in Chicago, and I needed to figure out how to get back to New York.  In addition, she had my jacket and luggage, so if I wanted them, I’d have to drive to her mother’s to get them.

nightmares, divorce, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherOf course, my reaction was to totally freak out.  I didn’t want my marriage to end, I was lost without J, and I had no idea how to get to New York on my own.  Even though I was in an airport, it never occurred to me to book a flight home.  My only option seemed to be to drive, and there was no way I could drive from Chicago to New York given all my anxiety related to driving.

I’ve mentioned some variation of this nightmare several times previously on the blog.  I don’t understand why I dream about someone who is never on my mind, but can only guess that my subconscious is telling me it’s my fault I’m alone.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Girl Who Went Away.  Now she is someone I miss, wish I could get back in my life, and consider “The One Who Got Away”.

So why the Hell don’t I dream about her?

She should be in my residual thoughts when I drift off to Dreamland.  That relationship’s failure continues to gnaw at me all these years later.

Freddy Krueger, nightmares, divorce, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherI’d welcome being haunted by the brown eyed brunette with the adorable dimple, but instead, my personal Freddy Krueger is an angry blue eyed blonde, who keeps coming up with new ways to abandon me and make me feel like I can’t live without her.

Even though I’ve proven I can.

When I woke up from my recent nightmare, my heart was beating so hard.  I had the hardest time falling back asleep because I was afraid of drifting back to that airport, where I’d still be trying to figure out how to win back J and get to New York.

I’ve considered hanging a dreamcatcher over my bed to prevent the dream, but I’m terrified that I’ll wake up one morning to find J tangled in it.

I’d really like for this nightmare to end.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Should I try to track down J and have some sort of conversation in hopes of getting closure?  Or maybe ask her if she could remove the curse she clearly put on me when we got divorced?

It would be really nice to sleep again, so I’m open to any ideas…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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15 Responses to When Your Dreams Chase You

  1. John Bray says:

    I can’t claim that my experience is the same but around 20 years ago, a girlfriend of 3 years broke up with me abruptly and started seeing a friend of mine within a week (I suspect that in reality it was sooner).

    It was a huge U turn from where I thought we were in our relationship and it sent me on a strange journey for a couple of years (our friend-group overlapped so I could hardly avoid the new ‘happy couple’).

    Fast forward to now I’m happily married with two kids and haven’t spoken to that ex in years. However, I have noticed her creep into my dreams in that darker, foreboding form that you describe with yours.

    What’s odd is that I’ve come to notice that it often coincides with times when my sense of agency is rattled (e.g. when I lost a job, failed a postgraduate assessment, and when one of my books didn’t launch well).

    Basically whenever life reminds me that I’m not always in control of my own destiny there she is to dump me in my dreams. Can’t help but wonder if you’re experiencing something similar.

    Not sure how much that helps. Either way, hope you manage to get away from the airport and go somewhere good next time your nightmare resurfaces.

    All the best, John 🙂

    • Austin says:

      Thanks, John. Sorry you had to experience that uncomfortable break up.

      I get that my subconscious is trying to send me messages, but I just question why it uses that relationship as the setting. The more recent one with Rachel would just seem a more logical choice as that’s the one that still rattles me…

  2. John Bray says:

    That is a head scratcher. Hope it doesn’t recur too badly though and that you get a good sleep tonight 🙂

  3. beth says:

    john’s explanation above seems to make sense to me, and maybe j pops up, because you were younger and less experienced, and it really threw you off. when r came along, it was still sad and traumatic, but you had dealt with loss before? not sure, but I hope you sleep peacefully again soon

  4. markbialczak says:

    Oh, Austin. Maybe you should take a pen and paper and write a letter to J, let every last issue about the relationship spill out of that heart, soul and brain of yours, and then crumple up the letter and throw it in the trash. At least you would have complete closure. There, I am done with playing therapist on WordPress.

  5. Pingback: The week gone by — Aug. 30 – A Silly Place

  6. sbwheeler says:

    Much of what happens in dreams is symbolic, rather than rational. But when we try to analyse such dreams, we are often using a rational framework. We try to apply the wrong kind of “sense”. In the non-rational part of our mind, things are linked by similarity of significance – so, for example, a bird taking flight might symbolise something lost, or perhaps a new opportunity. And even both at the same time. But the rational and the non-rational can touch each other within language. My suggestion to you would be to keep a notepad and pencil by your bed. If the dream recurs then, when you wake, write three words. Do it “randomly”, without over-thinking. Ideally without thinking at all. Then, later, see what symbols those three words evoke for you; what feelings and memories are attached to them. This dream won’t be about “J” – or about whatever she, or you, did; those will just be “points of similarity” to something else that is not yet resolved.

  7. Do not eat or drink anything at least three hours before bedtime. Do a 10 minute meditation before bed and drink a cup of plain Chamomile tea. Don’t use any cell phone, computer or iPad before bedtime or during. This works like a charm for me hope it does the same for you.

  8. thedonn87 says:

    Hi I’ve been having deams lately that I’ve been seen my dead nan a lot and then I’m waking up confused for like a good hour weather or not she really is gone. Don’t know what this means x

    • Austin says:

      I imagine it means she’s trying to cross over from the other side to deliver a very important message to you. You might want to break out the Ouja board. 🙂

      I had a dream last night that my ex-wife decided to move to Maine without telling me (we were still married in the dream). she broke the news by taking me to India and telling her she wasn’t going back to America.

      So weird…

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