Active Voice: Wonderland
by P. Kristen Enos
(Originally posted Oct 17, ’09. All rights reserved. Do not post or excerpt without permission.)
Since I tend to be a pretty solid sleeper, I don’t remember my dreams very often. Which is a shame because I tend to have pretty cool and fun dreams. They’re usually very vivid and rich that the bizarre things that happen in them seem very natural and real.
Now, even though I was a Psychology Major in college, I’m not a Freudian. I’m not into analyzing my dreams for any hidden meanings. Everything that happens in them is usually understandable and explainable to me. For example, when I had dreams that I’d fly (which was a lot when I was a kid), I viewed it from the perspective of being a comic book nerd most of my life.
On the other hand, I rarely have nightmares. In fact, I think last time that I had a dream so fearful and disturbing was back in my early teen years when I was religiously-minded. Since I’m no longer religious, I sleep a lot better.
But I guess it also begs the question of what defines a ‘nightmare’. And there were a couple of times in recent years that came very, very close by even my laidback standards.
In my hectic activist days, I remember being involved in pro-life/pro-choice matters. At that time, I had a dream that I had become pregnant (it’s a dream, remember?) and that abortions were no longer legal in America. I remember spending the last part of the dream trying to search for a means to an illegal abortion in the back alleys of Los Angeles. I woke up before it was resolved… at least I think I did.
In telling this dream to someone at a party, she made a comment about how great it was that I could take action in my dreams. That statement amazed me because it never occurred to me that frustrated helplessness could be a facet of bad dreams and nightmares. Because I don’t really have nightmares, I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing them for either myself or other people.
But the last dream that came the closest to being a nightmare for me was just plain bizarre. Yet, it was still explainable… kind of.
It was a work dream, which my best friend claims is the worst type to have. His philosophy was that because you’re already spending several waking hours devoted to work that you don’t need to devote personal time to it as well. And I can’t argue with that logic.
I don’t remember the exact timing of it, but it was at my current company and took place a several years ago. By then, I was firmly employed and well known in related departments. And I knew I was recognized as being very openly lesbian. (In fact, I think the magazine version of my “Active Voice” column was running at the time, and I knew I had some co-workers of various orientations who read it.)
So the dream began where my co-worker Mike and I announced our engagement to everyone in the office….
Yes, there was this tiny creeping feeling in the back of my mind that something just wasn’t quite right. But this was a dream, those feelings are normal.
And I remember being so proud and happy in my dream as everyone came up to congratulate us. Finally, someone said to me teasingly ‘So were you just kidding all that time that you said you were a lesbian?’
That’s when my dream-self went, ‘WHOA!!! Wait a minute!’ And then I spent the rest of the dream breaking off the engagement.
That’s the last thing I remember before waking up and thinking ‘Where the hell did that come from?!’
Now, no offense to Mike (who was a real co-worker), but he was nowhere on the radar of being in the range of what I would generally find attractive in a man back in my very brief heterosexual period of college. Plus, I don’t recall the two of us ever having a real personal conversation outside of typical co-worker camaraderie banter. In fact, I got along better with his ex and current wives, who also worked at the company at various points over the years.
And I admit that I’m very glad that there was no physical contact involved in the dream or else I really would’ve rated it as a nightmare, no matter how my dream-self would have behaved.
So the whole dream really was out of left field, and I can’t remember if there was any real life event or topic that would have triggered such a scenario. Unlike dreams where more bizarre, reality warping things have happened but could be traced to a root cause, I was completely baffled and disturbed by it.
I never felt the point was making me question my lesbianism, especially since the dream ended on the more than satisfactory path of correcting the situation. I think I was just confused by why would I have such a dream at all? What are circumstances and issues that my mind could be working through or playing with?
I finally felt comfortable with just accepting that it was a dream to show that I couldn’t perpetuate any pretense of denying my real myself. And I’m not just talking about my lesbianism; I’ve been accused of being too honest about many things and not putting up with social pleasantries that I’ve found hypocritical. But that’s who I am, and I’m glad my dream-self supports that too.
Now, of course, I just had to tell Mike’s wife about the dream when I ran into her in the hallway a few weeks later. (I would have told his ex too but she had left the company by then.) She laughed so hard that she was practically in tears. But then she looked at me seriously and admitted that she has no idea why I would have had such a dream about him either. We then went out separate ways after having a good laugh over it.
And I’m sure she told Mike about it. I certainly wasn’t going to.
He and I now work in very different departments so our paths don’t cross except maybe at the quarterly company meetings. It’s weird that every time I see him, the first thought I have is how relieved I felt when my Dream Self dumped him.