i’ve been dreaming about my ex husband lately–at least 3x over the past week and once the week before.
these aren’t like the dreams i used to have of him, before. when we were still legally married, and toxically enmeshed, but the veneer of our relationship had finally shattered. those dreams woke me up in a panic. they made me sick. they made me cry.
i assume that right now, as then, my subconscious is working through something. but unlike what happened before, this time i’m not sure what’s going on.
these dreams have been pleasant.
in one, we sat down and had a conversation when i came to pick up the kids. in another, i don’t remember many details but there was a brief moment of us talking and laughing as we reminisced about something or other from our days in college. it felt…peaceful. and if there’s one thing i can say about my dealings with the man i used to be married to, it’s that things have rarely been peaceful.
maybe my subconscious is wishing that things could be that way in waking. wishing we could be friendly. wishing that we could be the people who come out of a divorce and put the past behind us, becoming a team with the singleminded goal of helping each other do the best possible job at raising the kids we made, together.
barring a literal, miraculous act of God i don’t think that will ever be a possibility for us. i don’t think it’s possible for him, or who he is as a person.
maybe my subconscious is working through that knowledge.
one day, maybe, i’ll pour out the story of my divorce. it was, for me, unwanted. painful. traumatizing. it was also, despite my efforts at stopping it, the absolute best thing that could have happened for myself and my kids.
my relationship with my ex was dysfunctional. it was toxic. it was, and i say this with no melodrama or exaggeration, a tragedy waiting to happen. i couldn’t see that, when i was in it. i couldn’t see that everything about us together was twisted. a perverse and sordid representation of what love is. it was everything that love isn’t. full of secrets. and darkness. it was so, so unhealthy in so, so many ways.
but it was also all i knew about love, and keeping it seemed a much better alternative to…well, figuring out my life without it.
i’ve learned so many lessons–hard fought lessons–since the end of my marriage. lessons about who i am, and why i’ve made decisions i’ve made. lessons about why i’m attracted to a certain type of man, and what that says about my own level (or lack thereof) of emotional and mental health. lessons about what i want my life to look like–and what i don’t want it to look like.
i’ve learned that i am still, and will perpetually be, learning. that this life is all just a preparation for what’s to come next. eternally. it’s taken me a long time–much longer, i think, than maybe other people in similar situations to mine. and i’ve learned that even that’s ok. because my journey is 100% my own, and God is with me even in a wilderness that’s partially of my own making.
i’ve learned that there really is a certain beauty in brokenness. i wish i’d been quicker to embrace that lesson. and i’ve learned (ok, i’m still learning!) to listen to the people that say the hardest things to me, in the softest, most lovingly kind and beautiful ways.
i’ve learned that abuse isn’t always bruises and yelling and cuss words. sometimes it’s far more subtle and insidious. and i’ve learned that when that still, small voice is telling me that something (or someone) isn’t right it’s in my best interest to listen to it because eventually, doubt and fear and complacency will be much louder than that voice and i’ll have to relearn how to hear it.
i’ve learned that i’m far too much for some people. and that’s perfectly ok for them and for me. my only concern is learning to be the very best version of me–and i’m letting God lead me in that one.
i’ve also learned that forgiveness, for me, was a step in the direction of healing. different people have different ideas about what forgiveness is, and what it isn’t. and what it means, and what it doesn’t. but i realized that so long as i withheld forgiveness, i also held on to all of the most poisonous, damnable things about my relationship with my ex. and unwittingly, i let him hold on to his power over me. when i started to walk through forgiveness (and believe me, it’s a long, arduous walk) i became capable of setting healthy and necessary boundaries. and i learned how to not react to his crazy-making tactics. oddly enough, or maybe not too odd, i was able to forgive myself–for not knowing better. for not doing better. for digging in my heels, and closing my eyes, and for flat out ignoring all of the warnings that were blaringflashingyelling right in front of me.
so these dreams. maybe my subconscious is making peace with the memories of my life with my ex.
interacting with my ex used to cause me physical pain in the form of stress headaches and stomaches. the thought of having to see him had me literally shaking and having panic attacks. maybe my subconscious is showing me, by way of these pleasant interactions with that person, that i have moved on from all of that. that all of the pain, and all of the tears, and all of the anger and hurt and rage, that all of the time has brought me here. to this place of healing.
and while i can think of endless things i’d rather dream about than my ex-husband, if these are indicative of how far i’ve come in my journey…well, i guess i can count it all joy.