Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bad Dreams

It's dark and cold and rainy outside these days, and I expend a lot of physical and emotional energy at the restaurant; so on my infrequent free evenings, the instinct is to hunker down into a nice warm chair in front of the fire…and the boob tube. This time of year usually brings at least one television show that I get hooked on in re-runs. Last year, it was "Boston Legal." This season, it's "Ghost Whisperer."

For anyone who hasn't seen "Ghost Whisperer," it's the continuing saga of a young woman who can see and speak to ghosts. Every episode finds our heroine (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) encountering a new "earthbound spirit." Over the 42-minute course of the show, she puzzles together who the ghost is, how he/she died, and ferrets out what unfinished business is keeping the spirit tethered to its earthly life. At the end of each episode, through buckets of tears and confessions and revelations, the spirit crosses over to…wherever spirits are supposed to go.

The really unfortunate part of all this is that I tend to dream in "television show." Whatever tv drama I am currently immersed in makes frequent appearances at my nocturnal home theater. Which is fine, when you're hooked on something like "Frazier" or even "ER." And, these days, I'm kind of missing Bill Shatner, James Spader et al. Because at least their fictitious exploits did not give me bad dreams.

Two nights ago, I had a whopper of a "Ghost Whisperer" dream that upset me so much, I was on the verge of tears most of the morning after. I dreamed that my husband had died, and I knew this because he was standing right next to me, but I was the only one who could hear or see him. I was horrified.

Now, I am in possession of a bizarre but very effective nightmare defense: I talk myself out of bad dreams. That is, while I'm there in the dream, and things are getting frightening or upsetting, I say, "This is only a dream…" and I close my eyes and open them again, and whatever it was that scared or disturbed me is gone. The scene changes and I just…go on to something else. Talk about a control freak…I can even wrestle my dreams unto acceptable shape.

But this dream did not go away when I tried that little trick. My husband was dead, and I was insane with grief, and then, there he was, right next to me. Talking to me. And I kept asking everyone around me if they could see him, and of course, they couldn't. Because he was dead. And I had to accept that he was dead.

And just as I was getting used to the fact that he was dead and he was a ghost, but at least he was WITH ME, he decided it was time to go. He hadn't stayed to tell me how much he loved me, or how much he was going to miss me, or how he would wait for me, and in just a very short time we would be together again. Nope… no tender touch, not even a playful punch in the shoulder. Just, "Oh, gee! Look at the time! Gotta go!"

Truthfully, it felt uncannily like every time I have asked him to take a day or two off, or leave work a couple of hours early, for a birthday, anniversary, something (anything) I felt was important. It's not that he never does take the time off…but I always have to beg. Over the years, my husband has not shied away from letting me know precisely where I rank on his priority list. And let me just say…it is not first place. So in this dream, I'm begging him to stay with me, and he's just saying, "Nope. Gotta go. See ya."

It upset the hell out of me because it was so exactly what he would do. It was disturbingly in character.

And I could have gone a long time—the rest of my life, even—without that revelation…

1 comment:

  1. VERY bad dreams indeed. Maybe it's time to switch to another TV show? Or maybe this is a dream with a big message...time to make some changes before it's really too late. I have no idea what it's like to be married to a man, but, having been "married" to one woman for thirty years, I think I'd have to have a good long talk about this dream with my spouse. I've heard that men don't so much like to talk about such things, however.Is it worth a try?
    Mary Ellen