The last three nights in a row I have had terrible nightmares. So bad that I have refrained from repeating some of the details. I have such vivid and imaginative dreams, that I rarely consider them to be only dreams until after the fact. I was convinced one of my friends was on death row, with me right behind him as we headed toward a deep pool of murky water in which those before us had taken minutes to surface . Another night I was sure there was danger of a jellyfish attack. Yet another, I was certain I was told to go to my mother’s house to confirm she had died in her sleep. Each morning I have been woken up by the alarm’s annoying buzz, and have welcomed the interruption. In the moments between sleep and that startling noise I feel like I’ve had to fight to wake up from the horror.
Dreams deeply affect me and sometimes even for several days following the dream. I go throughout the rest of my day in a seemingly slightly altered state of mind. You can only imagine the kind of damage three in a row could do. As I wake up I feel the urge to run to someone else in order to calm down. I want a hug and the reassurance that it was all a dream while they wipe the hair away from my face.
When I was younger that person was my mom. America is such an interesting place though. Now, there is no one to do that for me. I’m not going to run into my roommate’s bed and expect her to not so much as flinch. No, that’d be an odd thing to do. All of my roommates are great, but I’m not about to run to them after a bad dream.
I understand the importance of learning to do things for yourself…sorta. We shouldn’t always rely on others to accomplish things or in order to learn to grow into the people that we are. Yet at the same time, is being a part of an individualistic society all that it’s made out to be? If we are taught to cover all the bases in order to be independent, then how are we to understand our roles (within a relationship, friendship, job, or organization)? If we become so focused on being self-sufficient then we lose out on community.
I wonder if this causes problems in marriages. How are we supposed transition from being independent to co-dependent? Suddenly you are allowed to revert back to accepting help from another person? So they are allowed to soothe me after a bad dream? But what if by then I am so used to fighting the dream that I refuse all help they might be willing or able to give?
Recently, I had a friend tell me about certain stresses in her life. She had been raised to cope with these things on her own, and is quite determined really. But then she said her boyfriend came over to her house and said, “Listen, you don’t have to do this all alone. I’m here.” While she was grateful, it was not something she had considered before then. Even before marriage, she found herself having to revert back to previous mode of thinking in order to function in her relationship with her boyfriend.
This friend’s story was not the only account of this sort of scenario that I’ve heard. I guess I feel there should be a better middle ground. While there are definite pros to discovering who you are, which is often done through independence, there also is probably a reason why America is one of the few cultures that are so individualistically driven. Perhaps it is something we should reconsider as a society.
Lyrics from If She Wants Me by Belle and Sebastian.