I’ve been having these recurring, disturbing dreams for the last few months about a man I dated almost twenty years ago. I can’t figure out why I have them. My dream dictionary says that a person who recurs in a dream is someone you have unfinished business with. But what is our unfinished business?
We met about five years before we started seeing each other. He was an RN in the ER and I was an RN in the trauma unit at an inner-city hospital. I remember first meeting him when I had an upset stomach from too much coffee and not enough sleep. He brought me the “ER Cocktail,” which consisted of Mylanta, and a couple other ingredients I forget now. But it worked and we became work friends. When he went to the northern part of the state to work as a Flight RN, he happened to come by the trauma unit and mentioned they had one more opening on the team and that I should apply. So I gave it a shot, and got the job. We both lived in the southern part of the state and commuted north two hours for work, which got old for me, so I moved up there and he crashed at my apartment when he was doing back to back shifts. Then one night, things changed and we started sleeping together. He’d stay up at my place, or I would go back to the south and stay at his house. Our “dating” lasted about a year, but I’ve stayed friends with him since then for one reason: he was the most honest man I ever dated. From the start, he said he didn’t want a “relationship”, or to get married, or to have kids. When things stopped feeling good between us, either of us could opt out. By the end of that year, I was yearning for a more in-depth relationship and we parted on great terms.
We email each other, and used to run into each other at the hospital when I lived here, but I moved to Florida a few years after we broke up and met and married my husband of twelve years, and had a son, who is now ten. I haven’t seen him since. We email each other occasionally; when he went to Iraq as an RN, he emailed me about once every three weeks to let me know he was safe and sound. He talked to a mutual friend who told him when I was in the hospital in a coma for eight days. He worries about me, and I worry about him. That’s what friends are for.
But these dreams are incredibly vivid, sensual, emotional, and sexual. Last night’s dream had him moved to California, living in a house I could describe in minute detail, and working as a flight RN. I was visiting him at work and all of his coworkers were telling me he wanted to ask me to marry him, but was too afraid to do so. I took his face in my hands and told him it would be okay if he asked me because I’d say yes. My son loved him and found instant friends in his neighborhood. There was no mention of my husband at all. That was pretty weird. The weirdest dream I had was that my husband was killed in a car crash and my ex came to live with me and my son. I felt a bit guilty about that dream, like I had some control over what I dream.
I’ve heard that you do have control over what you dream about and what you do in your dreams. I think my vivid dreams come from the medication I’m on for lupus and fibromyalgia. When I was first pregnant, I dreamed I was about seven months pregnant and taking a bus to George Clooney’s house because he was the real father of my baby. I arrived there and happily lived there with George and all his buddies until I woke up in the morning. My husband had a dream that our son was born with a lion face. He still gets a little freaked out by that one.
But what is this unfinished business? I think it’s that I haven’t actually seen my ex since he came back from Iraq, or since we moved back up here from Florida four years ago. I think I need to see him to know that time has gone on and our past is our past. It was a pretty good past, but I wouldn’t trade my marriage or son for any one night stand that happens to last a year for anything. And I’m wide awake stating that!