I have always had very vivid dreams. Most often, these dreams are either strange and disconcerting, or entirely horrifying. I’ve had dreams of being on fire, of having my fingers cut off, of being shot dead over and over again. My anxieties come to technicolor, visceral life in my dreams. Every once in awhile, I have quiet dreams. Dreams that seem so normal, and so real, I am disoriented upon waking. Yet even these dreams often are horrible in their own way, because I sometimes dream about things that make me feel like a horrible, selfish, evil person when I wake up.
Case in point: N– is one of my two best friends. He is one of the great constants in my life. We dated for a year, and then I broke up with him when I realized after a year that I was still incapable of saying “I love you.” I decided we would work much better as friends, and after a brief time when he needed some distance from me, we DID work much better as friends. Now he is happily married to a wonderful woman, and we are best friends.
But on more than one occasion, I have a dream that is some variation on this theme: N–‘s wife has died in a car accident, or from cancer, or some other tragic “no one could do anything to stop it” event. Sometimes they have a child, sometimes they don’t. But I am there. The helper, the support, the good friend, who eventually becomes something more once again, until all of a sudden, N– and I are dating, or living together, or married, and I am taking care of his child/children.
And every single time I wake up, and realize I am a horrible, horrible person. A person whose subconscious apparently regrets breaking up with N– all those years ago, who wonders what it would be like if I had made a different choice, who imagines a life in which his lovely, wonderful wife (whom I am friends with now!) is no longer in the picture. What kind of person does that make me?
Other nights, I dream that my mother has died, and though I am sad and heartbroken, I also feel surprisingly free and released into the world. On one occasion, I dreamed of my brother’s body parts strewn in a pieces in the basement of a house I lived in as a child.
What kind of person dreams these things? And on a semi-regular basis? Sometimes I think my dreams are trying to warn me about myself, that I am truly messed up, that there is something fundamentally wrong with me (it’s not just my depression).