When we first started dating, I would dream. I would dream that he was aggressive, angry, and he would cheat on me with other women in front of me. My dreams would scare me so much that I would wake up and see the sun starting to come in over the Washington monument while he slept with his arms around me. I would lay there confused wondering which was the reality and which was the dream.
When we first started dating, we would walk hand in hand. Shyly, almost as though we couldn’t believe we found each other and it was so easy, so right and so natural. When I thought about him, I thought about how he added to my life rather than detracted. It was new, too easy; could it really be that simple?
I spent months waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt, “This can’t be real. It can’t be right, can it?” And every time we made plans, I half-expected him to cancel them. And every time, he came through for me. Maybe a little behind schedule, but there nonetheless.
But then more time passed. Our conversations became deeper and our relationship felt more settled. I couldn’t wait to see him at the end of the week and he would hug me as though it had been years and not just days when we saw each other. I felt at home in his arms, like there was nowhere I would rather be. Our weekends were spent lounging around, reading, laughing. Our hands were always near each other. It was simple.
My dreams slowly started fading away. When I woke up, it wasn’t because he was someone else in my dreams; that is if he was even in my dreams at all. But still, he would be there next to me and if I wrapped my arms around him, he would pull me more tightly to him as he slept. I always thought it curious I dreamt more when I was with him than when I was alone. It was as though being around him made me anxious, but being away from him made me secure.
We made plans. We took trips. We went on sushi dates and discovered a new Mexican place that was ridiculously cheap. We waited out the hurricane watch together. He brought me home for Christmas. I started feeling as though I wanted to be wherever he was, because his arms were home.
I was never one to start thinking about the big steps, about what happens next. But I made mistakes in taking steps back to protect him rather than protecting myself. One thing I can never seem to get right is to be less of a giver and more of a taker. So I made little plans, for this weekend and next, and we would casually talk about the bigger things like one of us buying a house and the other living there. I started to feel content, that no, we weren’t perfect, but when we could sit in his backyard, basking in the sun’s glow and our happiness, I just felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
The dreams are back now. I fear sleep because I never know what version of him I will see there. Will he be aggressive and angry? Will he throw other women in my face to show me just how little he cares? Will he be cavalier and uncaring, unfeeling, the complete opposite of who he is? Or will he be the patient, gentle, steady man I fell in love with and still love? If it’s not him, it’s our cat, tail twitching as he walks away from me for good.
I wake up feeling as though I don’t know where I belong and it hits with such force that I gasp for air because I can’t breathe. What was so simple and easy has now become complex and convoluted. The sun shines brightly all around me, but I still feel cold. And yet I still instinctively curl into myself as though his arms are still here, as though I can somehow wake myself up from the dream that I am in and find myself back where I thought I belonged.