For the last three nights, I’ve wallowed in dreamland nonstop. I wake in the morning with head pounding, jaws clenched pit bull tight, not quite able to recall. . . was it a nightmare?
Don’t think so. I’ve had my share of those and this doesn’t feel quite the same. No heart-grabbing, couch-shaking terror on waking, just this vague impression of disquiet shadowing the day.
This morning, I remember.
The beast outlasted me.
Dreams and Other Realities
In the dream, we’re on a weekend visitation to my former home. The kids are small. My closest friend comes along for backup. Both my parents are there. The anti-husband ignores me and spends the entire visit working the crowd—fetching coffee for my folks, playing quiet games with the children. He caters to each individually in the way they like best and they love the attention.
He never once sends a disparaging comment my direction. He doesn’t criticize in any way. As the night progresses, he wins them over, one by one. The dream plays on for hours.
Until finally, it’s just my best friend and I standing by the kitchen table. He wraps both arms around her. A genuine embrace. He pulls back and looks into her eyes with open affection. Then again. He’s holding her in his arms until she melts. He pulls back, just a little and begins chatting, laughing, flattering. She turns, visage glowing and says, “You have to admit, he’s really something.”
And then, for the first time all weekend, he looks me full in the face and stares me down. I know this expression. I’ve seen it a thousand times, in a thousand places, for a thousand reasons—
He doesn’t try to charm me any longer, it’s not worth the effort. There’s no pretense. In his face I see covert, unspoken rage. This is the truth, witnessed for decades. Hatred both glaring and defiant that no one else will believe.
I turn to the kids and tell them to pack up their toys, we’re leaving. They’re tired. They don’t really want to go—and his expression changes. He turns away, starts playing to the crowd again, clowning, pretending this is all just one big fun time. He heads off to assist everyone getting ready to leave.
I’m left standing alone. I’m so tired and. . . he’s won.
When You’re Beat
I don’t like my dreams invaded. But there’s a measure of reality here I can’t shake this morning.
Recently a close friend lost their home in a natural disaster. I got the news from the beast along with a play by play of all he’d done to assist them in their suffering. There’s no doubt he did all those things and much more, front and center. First to arrive, last to leave. Helping, organizing, working the crowd of my former friends. People I love. People he hardly spoke to before my departure.
He possesses a weapon I’ll never muster—his hatred energizes him, fuels his efforts to see me discredited, to ruin my relationships through winning over my friends and family. He’s entrenched for the long haul and it scares the crap right out of my wounded soul. Lying, insinuations, innuendo all wrapped with deeds of kindness, individually crafted to flatter each insecurity. He will see me alone, isolated and discredited. Or else.
It’s how I imagine the devil worked the crowd until a third of the angels fell right along with him.
Wish there was a happy ending here, but I just don’t see it this morning.