I have felt sadness before, a lot of sadness, due to going through depression at various points in my life. This post is about sadness too, but a different kind, one that I am not sure is actually real.
I remember my dreams less and less these days compared to some years ago when I could recall some dream pretty much every morning. Now when I do remember what I dreamed about, it feels a bit more special than before, even when it’s about something mundane. I tend to dream about work or some aspects about my personal life, such as my cats, and some other snippets here and there but nothing that I’d think about longer than a few minutes after getting out of bed.
On some rare occasions, the impact lasts longer though, and those dreams tend to be nightmares rather than anything pleasant. I had one of those last week and it stayed with me for a bit, triggering unexpected bursts of sadness over a couple of days.
In the past couple of years, I have felt truly happy for the first time in my adult life, realising that actually life is not so bad. I’ve observed that life can actually be calm, exciting, peaceful, safe and happy. I feel like I can enjoy doing things again, even simple things like reading a book or taking a walk outside. I had given up on ever feeling like this and did not believe it was ‘meant’ for me anymore, as my earlier struggles had totally deflated me and sucked out every bit of hope I had (or so I thought).
The biggest part of bouncing back from that after starting my recovery journey and the biggest source of strength in the past couple of years has been my partner. Because of him, I know what it feels like to be loved and appreciated for who I am.
The dream I had last week was about him, or rather, what it felt like to realise he no longer existed, and I would have to start life all over again without him, as he had suddenly died.
I was sitting on a sofa with a friend who had come over to support me and offered to listen if I needed to talk, after his death which had happened not longer than a couple of days ago. There were no details in my mind, just the knowledge that he was gone. There was sadness, but I felt empty. I heard my friend talking and saw her organise some papers on the coffee table, but everything was somehow distant and I was not really listening. I was numb.
An unidentifiable number of hazy days passed at work, hazy lonely evenings at home, hazy sleepless nights in bed, not sure for how long, until I found myself doing the dishes in my kitchen one day. All of my surroundings seemed perfectly clear then, no haze. And it was quiet. There was no radio, no sounds from outside, no sounds made by my cats, no sounds at all. I looked at my hands and they were wet and covered by foam bubbles. The faucet was on and hot water steamed into pots and pans, but that made no sound either.
I picked up the sponge to clean a plate. I got distracted by its unusually bright yellow colour – it was emitting a glow – and its familiar texture against my hand. I squeezed the sponge and the moment I did that, I had a memory flash of a time when I was doing dishes in my partner’s kitchen, him watching TV in the next room.
A wave of sadness and panic rushed through me with such force that I dropped everything I was holding and my hands started to shake. I saw the plate fall in the sink in slow motion. The sound it made when it shattered was deafening.
He was dead.
I started crying. I felt like the world had ended with him – my life had ended and I was powerless to do anything about it. My whole body was shaking and the room suddenly filled with a rough, ear-splitting howl. My throat felt like it was on fire and I realised the sound was coming from me. He was dead.
I kept screaming so hard that the wall behind the sink started shaking, and with a loud jolt a huge piece of it tore completely off. My voice was breaking and eventually disappeared completely but I was still screaming. I was suffocating, trying desperately to push the overwhelming sadness out. I saw more and more of the wall crumbling and big chunks of it breaking apart and falling outside with a crash.
I felt my bed under my back suddenly and the chaos of the kitchen was replaced by calm darkness. The roaring sounds gradually faded. I was awake. My face and neck felt hot and wet and I wondered if I had cried out loud in my sleep. I was out of breath. I felt a strange combination of grief and immense relief at the same time. It was just a bad dream, and he was ok.
Do you know that feeling after crying, when your head for the rest of the day feels kind of woollen and heavy, thoughts are sluggish, and your eyes feel puffy? It’s hard to concentrate. Have you ever felt sadness that doesn’t really exist?
The next couple of days I was bothered by that dream, and fragments of that pain, so strong that it tore open a wall in my dream, crept back into my mind sometimes, if only for a few seconds at a time. When I was by myself, walking to work or sitting in the bus, it was sometimes difficult to stop feeling like I was going to cry. It was a dream, and it was silly to feel like this. Or was it?
The negative impacts and tinges of sadness faded eventually, but the experience made me appreciate a bit more how good life is these days compared to before.
Do you remember your dreams? Do you have any dreams that have stayed with you for longer than usual? I’d love to hear about it. 🙂