Opening the creaky door to let you into my sleepy psyche…
I’m writing this, with eyes half closed, after having awakened from a humorously disturbing dream—one of those dreams that won’t let me go back to sleep until I express it.
A chaotic conglomeration of thoughts—a montage of images. They included a gun being shot in the air when the normally pacifist person, who went off the deep end while dealing with a crisis in his life, hands it over to a woman who would be hard pressed ever to hold a weapon, let alone use it.
He told her to choose someone in the room to shoot, and a fictional character from Northern Exposure—wise man, innocent child and shaman—Ed Chigliak volunteered. She pointed the gun in his direction but intentionally missed. I was next to him and felt a sense of relief. He implied that he knew he wouldn’t die.
It involved another friend in mourning, wearing a suit—far more formal than I have ever seen him garbed—as he was preparing to attend a funeral. The dream then took me to a bar where I was following a female friend whose brain I wanted to pick, on a topic that I can’t recall at the moment. I was carrying my briefcase as I entered the establishment. She saw me, but ignored me. I was puzzled at her seeming rejection when she is always glad to see me.
I know that dream symbols are reflections of aspects of the dreamer, so I was already analyzing them while in the midst. Many of these experiences are out of my comfort zone—guns scare the crap out of me, and I don’t want to be around them. I don’t frequent bars, being a teetotaler with many friends in recovery. Those scenes involving death, grief and mental health crises are very much parts of my paradigm, having been a therapist for three decades.
What came next tied the dream symbols all together…
It was a gender neutral voice which told me that the purpose of a relationship was to stand before someone who mirrored and reflected all that we are. The shadowy and sunny. The bold and the chicken shit. The pacifism that I have embraced and the rage I have buried. The total acceptance of all that is and the judgment of that which pushes my buttons. The bitchy and the beautiful. The mundane and the miraculous. The tedious and the transcendent. The yin/yang of existence. A panoply of experiences.
Although I have desired a partnership, off and on, since being widowed in 1998—most of the interceding years have had me dancing alone or with occasional improv dance partners, making it all up as we went along, without pre-planning of what it all was to mean or how we were to swirl and sway together.
Somehow safer that way, since to commit to one might mean to close out other options. Although I have, at times, experienced polyamorous relationships, it feels too complicated for me to sustain that choice for the long term. I have room in my heart for a lot of people, but not time in my schedule.
I am a public person—not shy and certainly not waiting around for “The One” to come a-calling. I engage in life, and I’m quite visible and vocal. I meet countless people every day. There was a time when I would be face to face with someone with whom there was immediate resonance, cosmic coincidence and serendipitous overlapping experiences and I would wonder if they were life partner material. I would come to recognize that there were other reasons why we came together that had nothing to do with romance.
I still question with embarrassment—what’s wrong with this picture, that I am still alone? On a conscious, cognitive level, I hear that the answer is “nothing,” since I know many accomplished, loving people who are still in single-hood.
I have fiercely shielded my hard won independence after a marriage that tested every belief I had ever had about relationships—what love is and what it is not. I have re-created myself from the inside out—peeling away the layers of protection that I convinced myself would keep my heart safe from hurt. I have feared that I would need to give up what I had worked so hard to create.
I have observed other people’s relationships, as would any anthropologist, pondering how they made it work while each had grown into the people they are now. I wonder if they have the same fears that I have harbored? Being single has come to feel as natural as being in relationship used to seem. There are times when I am in “longing for a lifetime lover” mode and other moments when I am gratefully relieved to be a “party of one.”
I ask myself and you (whoever you are):
Can I be me and still be part of a we?
Can I see my own beauty reflected in your eyes, since I am sometimes blind to it?
Can I grow myself with you, not in competition, or at odds with you?
Can I put aside my fears of being swallowed up and consumed in a relationship?
Can I release my idealized version of who I think you are, and who we might be together, in favor of who we truly are?
Can we walk side by side, without a need to lead or be led?
Can we support each other’s dreams and visions?
Can we complement each others’ strengths and abilities, rather than feeling we need to complete each other?
Can we recognize that our wounds don’t define us and that our broken boo-boo places are those where we are broken open instead?
Can we boldly go where we have not ventured in relationship territory before?
Can we sing together with enthusiasm even if we are riotously off key at times?
Can we be a greater force for good together than either can be alone?
Can we experience transcendent sex and still be grounded enough to pay the bills and do the dishes?
Can all that each of us has experienced until this point strengthen a union, rather than sabotage it?
Can I trust my emotional safety with you?
Can we nourish and not starve the relationship?
Can we trust ourselves and each other?
Can we bring out the shadow sides of each other and then consign them to the light?
Can we bring out the highest in each other and celebrate it to the fullest?
Can we hold each other’s hearts sacred?
I desire to know the real you in me and the real me in you—not just in my vivid imagination.