In the dream, it was my birthday. He carefully, and in great deal, explained the gifts he’d purchased. He discussed the lengths he’d gone to in order to find the perfect items. He talked of how he’d spent so much energy tracking down these ideal presents. “Aren’t they beautiful? Do you like how I put this together? I found the perfect gifts, didn’t I?” I reached out to touch the smooth fabric and he said, “Oh, no. These aren’t for you.” I woke with a racing heart and a need to vomit.
The 12 year old deep down inside wanted to scream, “Hey! That’s not right. What about me?”
Fifty-something me knows the futility of trying to explain to one who lacks empathy. It’s equally tiresome to either point out that something hurts feelings, or to pretend that feelings aren’t hurt. I could say, “Hey, that hurts my feelings,” only to be told that it’s not all about me; that he has every right to buy what he wants for whomever he wants, say whatever he likes or do as he pleases.
And the 12 year old with tears welling up in her eyes thinks, “Next year, I’ll be nicer. Next year, he’ll do nice things for me. I’ll be different. I’ll be better.”
And she’ll try to change herself – again – to get the love she thought she was promised.
Tenderness, kindness and thoughtfulness are love’s currencies.
Love is not hurting another to make yourself feel better. Love isn’t taking the one you love for granted.
Love is trusting another with your heart, gingerly handing it to them, hoping they will cradle it in their warm hands. They demonstrate their love by carrying your heart around as if it was their own, just as you can hardly wait to do for them. Love is not hearing them say, “I love you,” as they kick your heart to the curb.
That’s not love when he lays your heart down on the bar while he leans over to stare at the female bartender bending over to grab beer bottles from the cooler. It’s not love when he leaves your heart in the backseat of his car on a hot day while he sneaks into a jewelry store to buy earrings for another. That’s not love when she leaves your heart in the bedroom, only to find it again when you agree to meet her under the sheets.
It’s not love when her words feel like lashings on the fragile casing of your barely beating heart.
As I sip my second, third, and now, fourth cups of coffee, the symbolism of the dream materializes. Perhaps I understand because I was sidetracked by Twitter during the second cup, and stumbled upon a tweet that spoke to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading emails that I’m afraid to open. Or it could be that I’ve been dealing with this for so long that it’s finally making sense, in a sick sort of way.
The dream has nothing to do with not getting expected presents. It’s about not getting promised love.
That 12 year old knew, in some instinctive, primal, intuitive way that what she was experiencing was NOT love. Just as the woman in the dream knew she was not experiencing love. The 12 year old lacked the voice to explain, and she certainly didn’t have an audience. The dream woman has a voice, but she’s too beaten down and tired to bother trying to explain any more. There’s no point.
The dream showed her that she’s right.
That’s not love.
And because she still doubts herself, the Universe will continue to send signs – whether in dreams, or books, or tweets. The signs aren’t telling her there is no love. The signs are saying, “That? That way you were treated? That way you still allow yourself to be treated?
That’s. Not. Love.”