I’m Never Blindsided by Change Except in Dreams, But It Feels Real

lilac buds
Image by Paul / CC BY

The other night I had another one of those dreams.

Ones where I’ve been wrong about someone close to me.

Where they surprise me by pulling a 180 on their previous values system. Start saying or doing the exact opposite of what they’ve been saying for years. Out of the blue.

In these dreams, I become extremely distressed. That they’ve changed so quickly. And without warning. Because this isn’t typically the way that changes have seemed to manifest in my life. Sometimes I’ll talk to people who say that their partner left out of nowhere. That things seemed perfect… until they didn’t.

And I’ve been on the other side of that, too. Where I’ve left a relationship in which I’ve been miserable for years. And the person I’m leaving tells me that it came out of nowhere. Except it really didn’t.

In those situations, I’d been unhappy for months or even years. Voiced my dissatisfaction in the sternest possible terms I could muster. Talked about how if things didn’t change that I couldn’t be in the relationship anymore. And my partner might say “yes dear, no dear” at the appropriate points but not take any real steps that they agreed on. In one case, they said of course they’d go to therapy but then dodged every actual attempt to get them to come with me, resulting in my attending those sessions alone. And one day in those sessions, I decided everything I was unhappy about wasn’t going to change and that I would like to leave.

When I told my partner this, they acted surprised — as though it hadn’t been preceded by nine months of being told similar things by me.

Now, I never raised my voice. Nothing was yelled. No furniture hurled in the night.

But I was clear about being horribly unhappy and needing certain things to change. And for a very long time.

And yet, they insisted my unhappiness came out of nowhere.

I’ve seen similar with other folks who claim the same, that the big distressing change came out of nowhere. Often there are clear signs that didn’t register with them for whatever reason.

I’m Only Blindsided in Dreams, But It’s Usually in a Few Different Ways

It’s never happened to me. I’ve never been blindsided by a deteriorating serious long-term relationship. Instead, regardless of whether I’m the unhappy one or not (or both of us are), I’ve seen the demise of those relationships well in advance like a slowly sinking ship and sighed as evacuation procedures unfolded before me.

In my dreams, however, I am blindsided. And I don’t know how to cope.

I become feral. Upset. I struggle to gather myself well enough to talk to the person I love. To tell them how distressing this sudden change in them is. How blindsided I am. How terrified and hurt I am, justifiably or not.

Somehow, as difficult as it is, I do manage to communicate this.

And that’s when the second blow lands: Instead of a response of knowing or offers of reassurance, I’m met with confusion from them. The person who has changed so quickly either won’t acknowledge that this is even a change or openly mocks me for having such a difficult time adjusting to it.

And I realize in those dreams that not only was I wrong about whatever changed, I was wrong about how the person I love would react to my struggling in such a way.

It’s Important to Remember that Neither the Betrayal nor the Lovely-Smelling Army Are Real

It’s a slightly different scenario every dream. But I’m roughly the same whenever I wake from one, drenched in sweat, feeling a sense of betrayal that feels far too real given that it’s a simulation my brain dubiously decided to run.

Especially since if I can quiet my anxieties and somehow go back to sleep, I’ll often sink into a different kind of dream. Typically very absurdist, like one where I built the world’s greatest militia, and my lover wanted to make sure they smelled good so bought huge quantities of lovely lilac perfume.

That’s what I’m going to tell myself sarcastically the next time I wake from a dream about being blindsided that feels too real. “Yes, you’re in danger of being betrayed. Because it’s important to take dreams seriously. After all, everyone know that the huge army you lead smells so lovely.”

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