I don’t often remember dreams. When I do, they’re really bizarre and nonsensical, and they don’t usually mean anything. However, I have one very clear memory of having a dream and waking up with a clear sense of what the dream meant.
It was December 2011. In my dream, I came home to my parents’ house. From the time I moved away for school until 2006, whenever I would visit my parents, Mom would go find the remaining cats from my childhood that we still had, and she would bring them to me and say to them in a falsetto baby voice, “Look! Your big brother is home!” This practice stopped in 2006 because that was the year that Pee-Wee, the last cat from my childhood, passed away. Mom said once, and I’d have to say she’s probably right, that Pee-Wee was always my favorite of the many cats I grew up with. I said once that she was the closest I ever had to a little sister.
Back to the dream. (I wrote about this in a friends-only Facebook note back when it happened, and I’ve told this story many times, so this may sound familiar to my long-time friends.) I got home, and Mom went in the back yard to find Pee-Wee. She brought her out and said, “Look! Your big brother is home!” In real life, Pee-Wee had died five and a half years earlier, but in dreamland, she was still alive. I remember thinking she was really looking old, and I thought to myself, how old is she now? 18? 19? No, wow, she’s 23! That’s old for a cat! (Leave it to me to do math correctly in my dream; she actually would have been 23 had she been alive on the day I had this dream.) I noticed (here’s where it gets dream-level weird) that her skin was falling off, and I could see bones and internal organs in one spot. Then Pee-Wee ambled out into the street. A car approached, and she moved so slowly in her old age that she barely got out of the way in time. She went to sniff something in a bush, and more of her skin came off, and I could see her brain. Then I woke up.
As I’ve mentioned before, I had a was in a long distance relationship at the time that just wasn’t working, with a woman who I’ve called Acrux. In a few weeks, the week between Christmas and New Year’s, she would be visiting her old housemates up here. I sat there thinking about the dream, about how letting go of the past can be really sad, but often quite necessary. Not everything is meant to last forever, and sometimes holding on for too long can just cause more pain. I’ve never been a fan of euthanasia in pets or humans (and I’m not interested in getting into a political discussion right now), but in the situation I dreamed about, Pee-Wee was in a lot of pain holding on to this life. And that’s when it hit me, that this dream wasn’t really about Pee-Wee. It was about Acrux all along. She wasn’t going to change; the events of the previous few months had shown me her true colors. Holding on to this relationship, trying to salvage a combination of what we had in the beginning and what I always thought a relationship should be like, when she was clearly unwilling to do so, was just causing more hurt and nothing else. If I stayed with her, things wouldn’t be the same as my idealized memories of what things were like in the beginning. I knew at that moment that I had to bring this up when she came for a visit a few weeks later, and I knew at that moment that our relationship would not survive to the end of her visit. We broke up on New Year’s Eve.
Now some things should not be discarded so lightly. I believe that marriage, for example, is a lifetime commitment. (If you are divorced and reading this, don’t take that as judgment on you. I’m just stating my beliefs here, and everyone has their reasons.) Also, another example, one’s core spiritual beliefs should not change if they should suddenly become inconvenient. But some things just aren’t meant to last forever. When I first started writing this blog, for example, I was looking for a new job, although I didn’t go public with that until it was a done deal. Things at my previous job had changed to the point that everything I had enjoyed about working at a tiny Christian school just weren’t there anymore, and it wasn’t worth the low pay anymore. Letting go of my job of seven years was a positive change for me, although it certainly wasn’t easy.
I have a few other things right now, one major one in particular, where I’ve been wondering if the time has come to let go of something that has been a major part of my life for a long time, but which has changed to the point of causing hurt. Saying goodbye is hard. This whole concept is hard for me. I want things to last forever. And I want to be a voice against any further changes, but this is unlikely to happen at this point, so maybe it’s time to find something better somewhere else.