Love, Mental Health, and A Nightmare or Two

Have you ever cried so heavily and so hard that your nose got stuffy, not from allergies or cold symptoms, but just from crying?  At 1:30 in the morning?  Because of a dream?

Me too.

I had a dream that I was working at a mental health facility in an arbitrary location somewhere on planet earth.  I have no idea what my position entailed, but I assume it was something kind of like my previous job as a caseworker.  I was married to my lovely wife, who was actually my lovely wife, and we had kids I think.  For some reason, she came into my place of work to answer some sort of survey, and it seemed to be about herself.  She became visibly nervous while answering the questions, and starting picking at her wrists.  Not scratching them, picking at them, like a crazy person would.

I asked her if she was okay, and forced her to look me in the eye.  I needed to break her concentration on the questions in order to help her see that she was picking at her wrists.  She assured me she was fine, but there was a slight lost-ness in her eyes.  She wasn’t all there, and I knew it.  From here, the details get a little cloudier, but at the climax of the dream, right before I awoke, she was on the floor of a waiting room at the facility, flopping and flailing around.  There was a woman in the waiting room cowering in her chair, trying to avoid the crazy woman losing her mind on the floor.  I was so embarrassed and terrified at the same time.  My wife was yelling, “Stop biting me, it hurts!” over and over again at the cowering woman.

I shot up out my sleep and believed absolutely everything that I had seen in my head.  I believed it was possible that my wife might be slowly losing her mind.  I believed that she could end up crazy.  I had to wake her up.  I had to tell her that I love her before it was too late, before she loses her mind.  I nudged Jessey and told her I had a terrible dream, at which point I lost it.  The emotions flooding my eyeballs and nostrils were as follows: fear, love, shame, sadness, fear, terror, death, loneliness, fear again, loss, and love.  I couldn’t control it.  I had lost my mind.

I asked Jessey to talk to me for a little bit, but she was incapable of doing so.  She, after all, was in some sort of sleep heaven compared to my hell slumber I just awoke from.  She had no way of understanding what was going on.  That was 1:30 this morning.  My brain works in such a way that I can enter a dream where I left off, like I just paused a movie.  And this was not a movie I wanted to continue watching.  Knowing this about myself, I checked my Facebook, my blog, my email, and tried to distract my mind.

But, there was something more true about this dream.  Something more possible.  Something that, deep down, I knew I was actually afraid of.  I think I have a very subconscious fear that my wife is not always going to have all of her faculties.  That she might possibly lose her mind.  That she might, someday, just be a shell of the person that I fell in love with.  I see no signs of this, at all, actually, but I think I am afraid of it.  I’m afraid of the medications that she takes to regulate the chemicals, of their side effects, of what they could do to her long-term.  I’m afraid of doing this life alone.  I’m terrified by the thought of parenting alone.

This afternoon, my wife experienced the same feelings of loss, loneliness, and fear while she was awake.  Her phone wasn’t working, and I wasn’t home from helping my friend Nick move out of his house.  The plan was that I was going to ride my bike home from Nick’s house, and in her mind, I should have been home by the time she was arriving.  Knowing that her phone was not working, she started daydreaming that I had been hit by a car and was dead somewhere, and she was unable to be reached, or worse: that I had a flat tire and she couldn’t help me.  In reality, I was still helping Nick move, and I never rode my bike today.  But in her reality, just like in my dream, something bad had happened.  She faced, however briefly, the prospect of doing life alone.  She was almost in tears when I got home this afternoon.

It’s interesting how attached we can become to the one’s we love.  Even more interesting is how we can allow our brains to play out doomsday scenarios in which we are stuck on this planet without them.  I’m not sure if it’s our own way of preparing for the inevitability of loss.  I’m not really sure what that’s all about.  But I do know that love is a mighty powerful thing not to be taken for granted.

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