“A Perfect Vacuum” by Jeremy Geddes
The first week I slept in my marriage bed alone, I was afraid to dream. I only know this because in the wee hours between falling asleep and waking up, I saw and remembered nothing. In hindsight, of course, it was likely my subconscious shielding me. I was already going through enough turmoil in my waking hours that even my exhausted brain needed a break from its constant processing and reanalyzing of events.
Eventually, the first dream I had was a vivid one. My ex had packed a bag and left our home on a routine business trip. Shortly after, I turned on the TV and heard the news that his plane had crashed. Surprisingly, I was not shocked. I didn’t even feel all that sad. In that moment, the only thing was the realization that he was gone. He was not coming back and I would just have to deal with it.
My brain was catching up.
Dreams have played an important role in my grieving and healing process. Not coincidentally, the gentle but wise counsellor I sought out for guidance used the phrase “awakening from the dream” to describe the soul-wringing process I was going through. For the previous 20 years, I had been contentedly focussed on my responsibilities and roles on a daily basis. But in reality, I had been sleepwalking, playing the “good wife and mother” while assuming my partner was holding up his end of the deal. The image we projected and protected of having a good life, family and home was merely an illusion. Even I was fooled.
Take comfort in what has happened, my counsellor assured, because once your eyes have been opened, there is no going back. There is no more pretending and no more sleeping. You won’t let yourself be fooled again. Instead, the end of the dream had brought with it a brand new sense of awareness. My true self was waking up.