Monday, February 16, 2015

Parenthood – Week 90: The Nightmare

Last week I had the most horrible nightmare, I've ever experienced: Ollie was kidnapped, I desperately struggled to get him back, we eventually recovered him but he was permanently damaged because of the experience.

For days after experiencing this nightmare, images flashed in my head too horrific to recollect in this post. Even now after almost a week after the nightmare thinking about that dream still makes me shudder.

I hesitated to tell Diana about this dream because I didn’t want to put the story and images from my nightmare into her head. This was a strange feeling because there’s really nothing that I think or experience that I hesitate to tell Diana on a daily basis.

As part of our Valentine’s Day date we went out for drinks before dinner. We talked about what was on our minds and I couldn’t deny the fact that this dream was still haunting me. When I told Diana why I wasn’t sure about telling her about my dream, she looked straight into my eyes and told me that she could handle it. Like so many times before when Diana has told me about her strength, I believed in her  immediately.

I had been reliving this dream in my head for days but it was even worse describing the nightmare to Diana out loud. The more emotional I got in the retelling the more understanding and empathetic Diana became. I knew that Diana would react emotionally to this nightmare the same way I did but actually hearing her say out loud that she felt the same things I did validated my feelings.

Diana and I have similar ideas about psychology. We both subscribe to the Freudian idea that feelings and dreams can have meaning but we don’t agree with Freud’s strict dream symbolism and the idea that every emotion can and should be explained. Not every feeling means something and sometimes logic needs to override feelings that are irrational. What’s more important about dreams are the emotions not the events and images.  This is what we talked about.

In talking about my nightmare this is what came out: I’ve always wondered if Buffy’s attack permanently damaged her psychologically and part of me feels guilty that I wasn’t able to protect her. I’m afraid that something similar will happen to Ollie and there will be nothing I can do to stop it. I feel ill-equipped to raise a child who is mix-raced. I’m worried that he will struggle with his racial identity, face racism and deal with challenges of not having the same level of privileged as his peers.  I have feelings of anger towards people whose values are contrary to what I believe is most important to our society. It’s very difficult to validate my feelings of struggle in my life while maintaining perspective and remembering that my life is blessed.

Diana didn't have answers for my thoughts but by being there for me, Diana reminded me that she would always be there to help me bear the load.

The images from that nightmare are fading and so is the intensity of the emotions that I felt during that dream and the days after, but its still there, because the emotions will never leave me.  I will always be afraid that something will happen to Ollie but that fear comes from love.

Sometimes it's in the darkest emotions that we find our light.     

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