Had a strong dream last night about someone I used to be powerfully in love with. My love was not returned, although we did have a friendship for a few years. D. was a fellow AA I met in central London, when I first stopped drinking (again) in 2006.
I dreamt that I was staying in a house that was sort of like a communal Air B & B. There was some kind of social event going on with people milling about. I had a copy of Grazia which had a page size picture of D. in that I tore out and showed to him. This picture was is some way precious to me, and I showed it to him. He didn’t have much to say about it. I then lost this image and spent a good part of my dream looking for it and feeling dismay that I no longer had it in my possession.
D. was at this social gathering with his fiancé, a woman I do not recognise from real life. At one point D. and I start kissing, and he doesn’t seem too worried about his fiancé, who I later run into at the party. She doesn’t realize what is going on and I feel a bit uncomfortable. I also feel worried about my social status as someone in receipt of state benefits, and when I am going to be ‘found out’, and judged accordingly.
I woke up feeling rather perplexed by my dream and wondering what it was all about. I recently Googled D., for some unaccountable reason, and his Facebook profile had a picture of him and his fiancé in his profile picture, and his status marked ‘engaged’.
After doing this (Googling) I didn’t feel too good about myself, and wondered why I had done it — it seemed a good idea at the time. I wasn’t especially upset to see that he was taken. I had vaguely considered contacting him and saying hello but that was before I saw the picture. Afterwards I decided it would definetly not be a good idea. This illustrates that my idea probably had an ulterior motive, even if I wasn’t being honest with myself about it.
But why would I dream about him now? I honestly have no answer to that. I’ve never had a particularly powerful interest in my dreams. Not to say no interest at all; I have gone through phases of writing them down, but as I have never been able to decipher any sort of meaning in my dream-life, it’s not a practice I have ever engaged with. That said, sometimes, in retrospect, I have read through old dreams and thought: Oh, that makes sense. Like dreams do really sketch in something from my unconscious that I am never cognisant of when the dream strikes.
Maybe, somewhere down the line, I will think; Oh, that is why I had that dream. But today, as it is no doubt foregrounding an aspect of myself that is currently under wraps, I honestly haven’t a clue.
Nevertheless, I have thought about D. since undertaking my detective work. He looked older, of course, but he also must have changed considerably if he is getting married. During the time I knew him, he never had a serious relationship to speak of, which is part of the reason it was impossible for me to bury my hopes he might one day change his mind about falling for me.
D. was an incredibly charismatic person and I was utterly smitten for years. During this time, the intensity of my feelings for him made it impossible for me to ever consider getting involved with someone else. Eight years of wasted time.
Recently, I have looked back on this duration with heart-wrenching dismay: How could I have been so wilful and stupid? But if he could come back to me last night with such clarity and intensity of feeling, perhaps it was more understandable than I have allowed.
The whole episode with D. was incredibly painful for me. I was on a constant roller coaster of despair and self-loathing. The way he treated me was always ambiguous in the extreme. Sometimes he was unbelievable charming and lovely, and at other times he made me feel really hated. It was so confusing.
I also felt incredibly guilty that I had done something that cast me in an incredibly bad light in AA terms: I researched him online and found out all sorts of things about him that the meetings didn’t necessarily give me access to. Communication was not my forte at that time, and for a long time I lacked the courage to try and get to know him in a more orthodox manner. That said, we did eventually get to know each other better, and in reality I could have asked him anything I wanted. But I still lacked courage and confidence and carried a severe guilt about my surreptitious behaviour. That guilt gave him considerable power over me, and I think was the reason I allowed the whole thing to go on for so long. Feeling that I owed him something meant that I never allowed myself the luxury of getting angry and frustrated that he treated me so strangely. I felt it was no more than I deserved.
News of his engagement woke me up. It made me feel bad. If only I had seen a picture like that years ago, so much fantasy and hope would have been nipped in the bud. Had I contacted him recently, I’m sure he would have ignored my message. We didn’t exactly part on good terms.
Still, there must be a part of me that is still attached to him, as my Googling, and dream illustrate. Maybe it would be worth exploring in my forthcoming therapy. I haven’t seen a therapist for a while, but am due to start up sessions again in a couple of weeks. If I am feeling depressed, and I am, perhaps this past experience with someone that went so wrong, and for so long, could be affecting me in ways I am not aware of.
It certainly caused my self-esteem to plummet to lows I could not have dreamed of when I met him. Although, having said that, previously I had been subject to another powerful unrequited affection that lasted for many years, and made me feel almost worse than my associations with D. In that instance, I barely knew the man. With D. things were different.
I think these experiences issued from the very negative experiences with my mother, that also went on for many years, but got significantly worse in my twenties. At that point it was clear that my mother, who I really did love, clearly hated me. Although that state of affairs took a while to sink in and left me constantly baffled, in a similar way to my association with D. I think that dynamic got repeated over and over again; it was so familiar to me and engrained that in many ways felt entirely natural.
I do hope D. is happy and that this marriage of his works out for him, even as I recognise that perhaps I am not really as totally over him as I had assumed I was; largely because I rarely think of him. Or certainly not as often as I used to — he was a near constant obsession for a great many years. Maybe an experience like that, even if it does have its roots in bad family relationships, leaves a mark on a person. Perhaps I was naive to think that simply because I never see him anymore I have entirely gotten over it.