I had the dream, yet again, where my boyfriend from 13 years ago breaks up with me.
I rarely think of and never talk to this man, but I’m having this dream more frequently. It’s always in a different setting and we’re always in present time, having tried as adults to make things work again. As he drives away, I stand on the dusty, dirt path feeling the same emotions I felt at 19— I’m terrified to be alone. Where do I go? Who else is there?
It’s not that this ex-boyfriend means anything to me. As soon as he’s gone, my mind goes to my husband, and my fear skyrockets as I learn to assume that things haven’t worked out with him either. There’s no one left to turn to and I’m utterly alone.
The sheer terror of that realization launches me out of sleep. And as I wake in my warm, comfy bed, my husband instinctually reaches out to clutch my hand, sensing from my heavy breathing that I’m waking from a nightmare. He’s here and he has no idea what a great relief he is to me in this moment.
When people ask me, “What is your biggest fear?” I usually respond with, “My loved ones dying.” I think what I really mean is “abandonment and loneliness.” Being on my own for a weekend is one thing; knowing that I’ll be alone permanently is quite another. How much does this fear drive my decision making and my subconscious?
I mean, I am having reoccurring dreams about it.
Maybe the fear is more pronounced now that I’m bringing new life into the world. Raising a baby by myself terrifies me. I wouldn’t have elected to have a baby if it weren’t for the fact that I can raise said baby with my husband. Parenting is something I only want to do in a strong and healthy partnership. The dream reminds me that I may not always have that luxury.
Most of my friends are single in their 30’s. I wonder, do they fear loneliness? Perhaps. But there’s likely some benefit to navigating early adulthood without a partner. My friends know how to be alone without spiraling into desperation and depression. They don’t rely on another person for lasting happiness.
I wonder if one day the universe will decide that tackling my fear of loneliness would be a great lesson for me, and everyone I love will be taken away from me. My teacher would say that no matter how devastating this may feel in the moment, this fate would be a gift to my soul: an opportunity for great transformation and growth.
And I imagine this is why some people stop talking to the universe— because they’re afraid they’ll get what they most need. I feel there’s too much at stake now. But really, that’s just the fear talking. How many of us unknowingly let fear run the show? Fear is ego and it shows up in many unassuming forms. It tries to look innocent, like the victim, so we’ll always return to it for comfort and reassurance. I’d like to keep things the way they are because the alternative is unknown territory. Fear looks like the good guy and change looks like the enemy.
But everything changes. Change is necessary. Better to embrace change than avoid it because either way it’s going to happen. There will inevitably be a time in my life where I feel desperately lonely. When I sit with this reality and really let that feeling of fear permeate my body, it doesn’t seem quite as scary. It’s my intellect that creates doomsday scenarios, not my body. This is why it becomes necessary for me to get out of my head and into my heart on a regular basis— to remember what is true.
My present moment is real. My past is finished (even if it likes to creep into my dreams) and my future is entirely unknown. Today is beautiful, abundant and perfect. So why not live here?
Author: Megan Ridge Morris
Editor: Caroline Beaton