I’ve had a couple of very vivid dreams in the past few days. I’m certain they’re trying to tell me something; I just don’t know what. I figure that maybe writing about them will help me make sense of them somehow.
In one of the dreams, I decided to move to Seattle alone. I didn’t get a sense of whether it was past me or future me, but I definitely sensed that it wasn’t me in the present. While I was there, I became passionate about swimming. I’ve never been a swimmer per se, though I do know how to swim. But I have always felt an affinity for the water.
I was really happy there, which is not to say that I’m unhappy here. Quite the opposite, actually. But I was at least as happy there as I am here. The unusual thing was that it was Seattle specifically that made me happy. I’ve always ruled it out based on two reasons alone: it’s expensive and the number of cloudy days is similar to my hometown in Michigan. Cloudy days really get me down. So I don’t know if a prophetic dream about my future (I get those sometimes) or if it’s just random about exploring other places I’ve ruled out.
The other dream was that my husband took my car for some reason and my car started automatically playing this song “Walking on a Wire” by The Get Up Kids. When he came home from taking my car wherever he did, he said he really liked that song.
I found that surprising because he typically thinks a lot of my music taste is just okay, kinda meh. We have a lot of overlapping musical interests but a lot of what I listen to is outside that range where our interests meet. I’d definitely put The Get Up Kids in that category.
The weird thing about that particular song: it quite often pops up at random in my iTunes, especially when my Bluetooth in my car auto-connects to it. I actually think this song has been trying to send me a message for a long time.
It wasn’t until I read the lyrics while listening to the song that I put together the meaning for me (since music, like all art, is interpretive.) I had that dream the night after a therapy session in which, among other things, we talked about the definition of verbal abuse.
My husband has said that I was verbally abusive earlier in our marriage, but declined to give examples because it would be unnecessarily dredging up the past and I’m doing so much better now. But I did give an example of something a friend said to her husband about taking out the trash and he said it was definitely verbally abusive. But my therapist agreed with my definition of verbal abuse as name-calling or belittling and said it didn’t sound like, at least according to that example, that it counted as verbal abuse.
I also mentioned to her the last time I remembered being really over-the-top angry, complete with tons of swearing: the first day of my new job in downtown Dallas. We were taking the train due to my husband’s strong preference (as he worked where I did) even though I really didn’t want to. The train wasn’t running at our usual station so we had to walk a little over a mile in the Texas heat to a different station. Yet even that was an acceptable reaction to anger, according to my therapist.
Still, there’s no question that I used to have more of a temper than I do now, and I often didn’t make him feel respected in the early years. But I’ve been carrying around this heavy burden of guilt that I’d ever had a supposedly out-of-control temper, especially because I really didn’t see myself that way. I don’t see myself as having belittled him or resorted to name-calling. Yet if the one who loves me most did see me that way, doesn’t that mean it was true?
And that’s when I put together what the dream was telling me: I identify with the singer of those lyrics. I’ve been walking on a wire, trying to make sure I never experience or express any anger.
Now, granted, I don’t feel anger very often anymore, especially since my husband’s cancer diagnosis. On the one hand, I can say that’s a good thing, as we’re trying to make the most of our time together. Yet on the other hand, I can also say that it’s created this environment in which I feel anger is never an appropriate reaction to anything. The more I can master my reactions and squelch my anger, the more satisfied he is with me.
The trick is learning how to see myself as I really am and have been, which is quite different from how he sees me (especially the me of the past.) How can I believe that I have been overall good if he sees me as a past verbal abuser? How can I keep walking on eggshells indefinitely to avoid ever appearing angry?
Anger is an appropriate emotion to feel sometimes. He says there’s an appropriate way to express it, but it doesn’t really feel like there is. Stuffing it down so I can keep the peace between us doesn’t seem healthy long-term, yet I feel like it’s something I have to do. I think he’d rather have peace at all costs and no conflict between us ever, which just doesn’t seem realistic.