Last night, I fell asleep next to you. You held me for hours, not even the slightest twitch of movement away from me. You were safe in the knowledge that you loved me and I loved you…
…while in my dream I cheated on you.
* * *
It is horrible when this happens. You wake up in a horrible mess of sweat, confusion and guilt, hoping to the skies that what seemed so real to you just seconds ago won’t be displayed all over your face.
Unfortunately for me, I am about as subtle as an anvil when I feel guilty about something.
The second my partner rolled over to say good morning, he was greeted with a shrill: ‘Have you ever cheated on me in your dreams? Just tell me if you have, I won’t get mad.’ (Not even a chance for him to breathe. Told you. Subtle.)
Startled, he replied in the negative and narrowed his eyes at me. ‘Why?’
Now, this could have got out of hand really quickly. It can be upsetting for some people, knowing that their partner was thinking about another person, even when asleep. I’d certainly feel a bit odd about it. But why? We are not in control of our subconscious, and at the risk of me getting all Freudian on your asses, we all have desires that we aren’t fully aware of. Just because these desires have been embodied by someone else doesn’t mean our feelings when awake are invalidated.
Take my experience, for example. Before falling asleep, my partner and I had had a discussion about our relationship. It was a positive talk, thinking out loud about how to make things better as it’s difficult to stay on track when distracted by little things…like university exams, 9000 words of essays, living.
But then I fell asleep and had a mishmash dream of scenarios that involved past partners saying memorably romantic things to me. Nothing physical happened with them, but what they were saying sounded so perfect and uncomplicated that it was a very attractive picture.
Looking back on it then, the dream was not a negative message about our relationship but instead an escape. It was presenting me with everything I wanted, but with the easy way out. Love isn’t easy, relationships aren’t easy, so when they get that bit more tough, you look for solutions.
It just so happens that my solution occurred to me whilst unconscious.
When you’ve been with someone for a long time, you have to continue to make the effort because it is so easy to not realise what you have, to amble along at the same pace. My cheaty dream was telling me I wanted more ‘wooing’ I suppose, more romance. I wanted that feeling that you get at the beginning of a relationship, those butterflies when someone walks into a room. I wanted all that with the man I’ve been with for nearly two years. And I saw now that it wasn’t impossible. (Panic over.)
So instead of making a big deal about it, I smiled at the man I love. Because by cheating on him in my head, I realised what we had and what we needed to move forward.
Step by step.