A fair warning: there's some real personal stuff in here. If you're uneasy with people getting sort of "emotionally naked," then you might just wanna stop reading now and move on to something else.
It's been awhile since I dreamed this dream. Anyhow, here's a summary from my previous entry about the major events of this dream:
I had this dream where Mom was coming to visit me for a week. She was coming down from Alabama with her mother & her sister. The first day she came, she and I reconnected in affectionate ways that are normal for mothers & their sons (and as was normal for us). I always enjoyed it when Mom scratched my head & played with my hair; so I would oftentimes lean against her shoulder & let her play with my hair. In this dream, Mom & I were doing this on our first day together. I didn't have an awareness of the strangeness of this encounter because of Mom's death; I was simply enjoying the rich, full amount of time we had together after recognizing that we had been apart for some time. The best way to describe this part of the dream was that Mom & I were reconnecting both physically and emotionally.
This was a very comforting experience for me. But what happened next was an emotional jolt of another kind.
Within the dream, the very next day, Mom surprised me with the news that she, her sister, and her mother were going to cut their visit with me short & head up to Atlanta, GA for some shopping. They had to go abruptly, seemingly after having planned to spend time with me for a week.
My immediate reaction? First shock (What?! Why? Why NOW?), and then anger. But it wasn't an enraged anger; it was a calm, thoughtful anger, if such a thing exists.
Before I describe what happened next, I have to provide some context. My Mom left our family in the middle of my Senior year in high school. She met another man who flattered her. She didn't have any improper relations with him while still with my Dad. But she felt that her relationship with Dad had grown cold, and she was eager to experience the warmth of love again.
This is going to sound odd -- because it was -- but Mom actually consulted me on her decision to leave us & move away to Alabama. I specifically remember how in early December 1998 Mom told me that she had rekindled a friendship with an old pal, she didn't know if it would ever become anything more, but that she felt trapped & wanted to be set free to pursue a better relationship with him or whoever else might come along. She asked me what I thought about that. So, I told her that I thought that was her choice. I calmly, rationally told her that I wanted her to stay with Dad, but I understood how she felt & appreciated her desire to be happy. I explained that I thought her decision wouldn't much affect me, because I would in just 9 months time be moving away for college. But I urged her to consider my sister, who was just entering adolescence.
Mom made the decision to go pretty quickly after that conversation. The month between that conversation & the day she left was one of the dreariest, depressing periods of my life. I kind of chuckle about it now, but I literally sat in my room and listened to Simon & Garfunkel that whole month. That's how sad *I* was! ;)
I didn't think Mom's leaving our family would affect me that much, but it did. I don't think I ever really expressed it to Mom, either, because part of her decision to leave was based on me saying, "I think I'll be alright."
So back to the dream. Mom has up & decided she's going to cut her visit (and MY time) short to go off on some flighty, selfish shopping journey. And so I tried to rationally explain to Mom why I didn't appreciate it. I started to explain how she wasn't considering me, and how this was hurting my feelings. I remember saying repetitively, "Mom... ... You KNOW why I'm upset about this." With this line of conversation, I was connecting her cutting her visit short with her leaving the family a decade ago. I was turning the screws to try to get her to stay. And she'd act dumb, and I'd interrupt saying, "MOM -- I know you KNOW why I'm upset."
And that was it. That's when I woke up. So comforting, and yet so disturbing.
For the first time, I think, I've realized how much Mom's departure from my family actually did affect me. Like the stereotypical "hero child," I wanted to pretend that I was above mere feelings -- that I was an impregnable fortress that couldn't be touched by pain or hurt. And yet I was still feeling it all. And here I am NOW -- almost TEN years later -- STILL feeling it because I never really dealt with it.
You wanna know what song I listened to most during that dreadful "Simon & Garfunkel" period? It's called "I Am a Rock." Until just a few weeks ago, right after I dreamed this dream, I hadn't realized how much this song conditioned my response to those events in my life until I randomly heard this song on the radio -- the first time I'd given it a listen almost TEN years.
The first & last lines are so revealing...
"A winter's day
In a deep & dark December
I am alone..."
"...And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries."
Dreams can shake us up because sometimes they make us deal with emotional issues that we've tried to sweep under the rug. For me, my response to the intense emotional turmoil in my life at that time was to retreat into myself & shut others out of my life. To this day, my personality still resonates with figures & characters who can be strong, self-reliant people without the need of supporting friends or family.
Listen to something I wrote but never published on the blog when I was trying to clear my mind about an infatuation with a particular girl a couple of years ago. I was pontificating about my own romance with being like a cowboy:
Cowboys don't need girls -- it's just them, their horse, & the frontier. It's what I love about the movie "Jeremiah Johnson."
And yet still he learned to settle down with his wife & adopted boy.
So part of me likes the independence of singleness. The cowboy-esque "I'm satisfied on my own" attitude that doesn't need anyone else.
You know, it didn't take long for God to figure out in Scripture that "it is not good for man to be alone." We were not created to be Christian Cowboys wild & roaming the frontier all by ourselves. I wasn't created for that. I, and we all, were created for community.
I suppose I'm writing this for the benefit of my friends, or for anyone who might stumble across this while doing a Google Search. In life, there are going to be unique times where we face intense grief or disappointment. It's not a matter of if, but when. When you do, I encourage you to do the courageous thing and face your grief or disappointment head-on. You will not be able to put it off forever. Someday your feelings will find you; perhaps long after it's too late to deal with the person who helped produce those feelings.