You ever think about someone, but no memories pop into your head? You don't want to remember. Instead, you get that tight feeling in your chest. Like you’re holding on to every bit of air in your lungs until you realize you can finally breathe? That you're safe? That is until you sleep. It's been years, six to be exact. Six years from the last time I let him in, but somehow, he always ends up at our meeting place. It's funny because even in my dreams, he makes me feel chaotic. As though I have no control over who I am or who I'm becoming. The room is white, just white. There's nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, and I'm surrounded by people too busy living their lives to notice that I'm naked. I don't care that I'm exposed, so long as he sees me. But as sure as the sun rises and night falls, he doesn't. I don't know why it didn't occur to me when he was clothed himself that he could never love me in my skin. Finally, a chance to escape this nightmare appears before me, but then he walks my way. There are people around, but they don't matter, and neither does me escaping. I want to scream, cry, laugh, and hug him all at the same time. But all we can do is look into each other's eyes, and words no longer do any justice. He reaches out for my hand, but I pull it away, and I wake up.
"And what do you think this dream is trying to tell you?" says Dr. Mora.
I don't care. The point is I'm happy, and I've moved on. What happened between us was a mistake, and if I could, I would have never met up for drinks that night. My relationship isn't perfect, but he didn't deserve that, and neither did I.
"If you're so happy, why do you keep visiting this other guy in your dreams?"
"That's what I'm hoping you can figure out."
"We're out of time for today, but I want to give you an assignment. Tonight, when you visit each other, let yourself breathe. We'll unpack more next week."
There it goes, that tightness again. This time it feels like a punch to the gut. I can't breathe, I can't think, and I don't want to feel. Because everything I try to escape from, my soul recognizes, even if my heart isn't ready to accept it yet. We're at our meeting place again, but it's different this time. My husband is here with me. Part of me feels guilty and scared, but there's another that needs closure. There are more people than before, clothed from head to toe. It's interesting how with my husband I'm fully clothed, but with him, I can't wait to be naked. I'm the only one here who's naked, but no one bats an eye. Not even he notices though he's standing right beside me. I breathe. One deep breath after another, and now I'm screaming and yelling and doing everything in my power to speak my truth, but he doesn't see me, and whispers for me to keep my voice down. I'm dancing and shouting, and the room starts spinning, and suddenly I realize I've lost all control. I want to kiss him. I want him to kiss me. It's all I can think about, which I don't know why when he pays me no mind and I have someone who loves me right beside me. Now the room is empty. I'm not sure when the people left, but I find comfort in being alone. I take another breath. A tall mirror appears before me, but when I look through the looking glass, it's no longer my reflection staring back but a distorted image. And you're right. I'm not sure of the last time I was even happy. I see the bruises on my arm and know I'm not happy. And in another breath, I feel the anger from when he scolded me for the millionth time because, in his eyes, I will never be his ex.
The memories I have with each of them pop up, one by one, like puzzle pieces that don't fit. I breathe some more, and I feel less guilty.
I'm sitting again in our meeting place when a woman I don't recognize approaches me. Her aura is warm and welcoming. So, I took the invitation. There was a silence between us that was comfortable. I didn't anxiously feel the need to fill the air with meaningless conversation. I had clothes on this time. I never felt so sexy. Not because my heels were high or I had my face painted up in the way they both liked, but by the love in her eyes when she looked at me. I saw us through the rear-view, cuddled up and laughing, and couldn't think back to when I ever felt this comfortable. This safe, with someone else. In a place where time wasn't the test of what we felt that night, but the intimacy in those moments of nothingness that let me know she was the one.
We didn't have sex if you're wondering, although I wouldn't have said no if she tried. What we experienced was something you only read about in fairytales or see in cheesy old-time movies. From sunset to sunrise in her arms, we shared our hopes, our dreams, fears, and wishes, and for the first time in a long time, I was breathing easy. The tightness was gone, there was no punch to the gut, but that feeling they call butterflies. I never felt that with him or him. If I'm honest with them I hardly felt anything. But, with her, a total stranger I met, at that little dive bar, and a lifetime flashing before our eyes later, I felt everything.
"What a vivid dream, you had. And do you think you can figure out what the symbolism was this time?"
"That's the thing. She wasn't part of the dream. And now I know all this time, I’ve spent asleep."
"This is my worst nightmare."