I’m a dreamer. Disney always lets us believe that dreams come true. Cinderella, my first favorite princess, said “they can’t stop me from dreaming,” and she sang “a dream is a wish your heart makes.” In Pinocchio, we are taught that “when you wish upon a star your dreams come true.”
So, when I woke up on a recent morning, upset by an actual dream I’d had, I began to wonder about dreams. Are they a reflection of what I wish for? Are they the resurfacing of bad memories I only convinced myself that I had happily put in the recesses of my brain? Maybe both?
Truth be told, I rarely remember my dreams. I do know that at times, when I’m having a bad dream, in the dream I tell myself to wake up. When I awoke from this particular dream, I remembered a lot of details. In this dream I revisited a lot of the issues that arose during my 16-year relationship with Ben. I again experienced the anger and aggravation that I did during our more challenging times. During the dream, I saw Ben curled up and crying with apologies and regrets. I calmly talked through the issues with him and comforted him. I talked to him honestly and openly and he listened and really heard me. In this dream, I got to a point where I could express that I accepted our entire relationship, good and bad, and I told Ben that I loved him, which was something he always knew anyway. I left the dream with him reassuring me of how much he loves me.
It bothered me that Ben was so upset. It also bothered me to revisit the difficult issues. Was my heart wishing for this dream? I couldn’t imagine how. It’s been gnawing at me and it has had me in tears.
I suppose that every relationship has its imperfections. However, when Ben was in the hospital and he knew his time in this world was limited, we had a special opportunity to resolve a great deal of the rough feelings. We even said our vows on the morning that he departed. I am not as naïve as my love of Disney would imply to some. I believe that I have a realistic memory and perspective of our relationship and, although I choose to focus on the wonderful aspects of my time with Ben, I also acknowledge the aspects that were difficult. After all, if I can’t do that, I am not doing justice to our time together and the love that lasted in good and bad times. But, why was I revisiting the bad times, seeing Ben so distraught and full of regret? Why was I talking through everything with him without just placating him? I felt like this dream must have been sending a message.
In my dream, Ben’s children ignored and dismissed me as they did throughout our relationship and his battle with ALS. For many months, I have been troubled by the only one of his daughters with whom I had a brief good connection at the end and for the first two years after Ben died, because, without any explanation or any kind of falling out, she began to ignore me and not respond to my texts. I have been feeling hurt and confused, because we had spent milestone events together, such as his birthday, the anniversary of his passing. I tried to be supportive and arrange activities that would honor Ben and that we could enjoy as we remembered him. Actually, for most of the time that Ben was ill, we did not have a strong relationship, so I suppose things just returned to their original status. In my dream, I matter-of-factly said good-bye and confidently walked away from her.
Dreams are such a matter of interpretation. In this case, I have come up with an interpretation that works for me. I recently marked three and a half years since Ben left this world. Those kinds of milestones always bring back a lot of memories- the good times and the illness, and, of course, his last day. While I get caught up in those memories, I have also stepped back into the land of the living. I am even trying to find love again. Interacting with people online, and writing dating profiles allows the opportunity to look at the beautiful and not so beautiful aspects of my relationship with Ben. I feel like I know what I am looking for and that I am ready to be in a relationship. Maybe this dream was showing me that indeed, I am able to look back honestly at my relationship with Ben, and to know that those issues are resolved. I can enter into another loving relationship and work through any issues that arise.
I do believe that Ben is with me. I have gone to a medium who has confirmed that. I realize that many people do not believe this as I do. Maybe Ben entered my dream so that we could talk through things and he would know that I still love him and am connected to him but can also move to a new relationship with an open and loving heart. Maybe we worked through things so he could peacefully let me step forward. Maybe my heart wished for the opportunity to talk with him about our relationship to reinforce in my heart and mind that we will always have a relationship, but it is now different.
As for the daughter who has cut off communication with me, in my dream, Ben watched as I confidently walked away from her. It made me feel like I have his support. This dream allowed me to let go of the anger, confusion and frustration that I have been feeling, knowing in my heart that I did everything that Ben would have wanted me to do, serving as the connection that she herself said she needed and wanted because her immediate family was not expressing much in the way of grieving Ben’s passing. This dream has empowered me to stop worrying and wondering and to sever the notion that I ever actually had any relationship with his immediate family. I gave and they took. For the most part, Ben had the same relationship with them.
Maybe it was just a dream conjured by the many memories swirling in my conscious and subconscious around the anniversary of his passing. On the other hand, although it upset me, maybe this dream was the wish that my heart has been making to talk to Ben, let go of the difficult times, feel heard and listened to, feel his love and permission to find love again and know that I am able and willing to once again enter into a healthy and happy relationship. Cinderella did say, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.” No wonder she remains my favorite princess.