I'm not entirely sure what a "craw" is, but I imagine mine must somehow resemble a pin-cushion; it constantly has things stuck in it. While I have not posted here in quite some time, I do have a Microsoft Word document on my laptop with a rough outline of something I've decided to write about. That posts will come later, hopefully. For now, I need to focus on something else.
This post may be a little different than what some of you are used to. It is certainly not for the squeamish or faint at heart. In keeping with my personal preference regarding honesty, though, it will be honest and real. Be forewarned that in addition to my usual colorful language, there will be things discussed that are certainly "Not Safe for Work" by any stretch of the politically correct imagination.
It all started with a dream. Sounds sort of poetic, doesn't it? Well, let me assure you, if it were poetry, it would be closer to Poe than Proust. Last night, I had a marathon of a dream that, while I'm not sure how long it lasted in real time, seemed to me to fill the entirety of my evening's slumber. While it's not uncommon for me to have vivid dreams on and off throughout the night, it has been some time since I've had one of this length and breadth.
The problem is this: When I have these vivid dreams, my mind and body do not (always) know that what is happening is not real. I have a tendency to wake up exhausted from dreams of this sort, since my mind and body do not get the rest they need in order to function properly. My mind engages itself in the happenings of my dream, and all the resulting feelings and emotions contained within that dream. I would liken it to being in a quiet corner somewhere, reading the climactic scene of a suspense/thriller novel. The heart starts to beat faster and harder; the mind, responding to the fight or flight response, begins to send electrical impulses to the body, shutting and/or slowing down unnecessary processes; sweat begins to leak from the forehead and palms; the face flushes. All told, while my body may technically be sleeping, my mind and my autonomic nervous system are wide awake and working overtime.
These dreams rarely conclude before I awake, leaving my body in a heightened state, and the thoughts, feelings, and emotions I experience for much of the morning are based upon the false reality of a dream long over. My mind responds and reacts as though the memories of what happened in the dream are truth, and the accompanying emotions that result are tied up so tightly to those memories that it's hard to let go of them and re-enter the real world in which those events never occurred.
To stop beating around the proverbial bush and jump right into what is weighing on my heart and mind, I had a dream last night which centered around my partner being unfaithful.
*** To be crystal clear: My dream was not caused by any real or perceived infidelity*** on the part of my partner. The act(s) were a part of the dream itself, and therefore not real.
As if one's spouse or beloved being unfaithful were not a traumatizing event already, this was not a one time lapse in judgment or indiscretion. Oh, no, this was a revelation of years of willful sexual behavior outside of what was understood to be a monogamous relationship.
To be blunt, this dream started with my partner and I being amorous and making out in bed. What started as simple making-out-like-teenagers-just-because-it's-fun turned into heavy petting and foreplay. When I grabbed my now-naked partner by the calf and threw his legs back over his head, a large glob of cum began leaking out of his ass. Horrified, as I knew that we hadn't had sex together in days, I immediately stopped dead in my tracks.
My partner then explained to me that it was just a harmless quickie of a tryst at the gym that morning. I was appalled not only that my partner had had sex with another man, but that it was being presented to me as no big deal. The fact that it was just a casual encounter that took very little time and no premeditation at all was somehow supposed to lessen the severity.
I was then made aware that this was not uncommon behavior for my partner, and he had, in fact, been having sex outside of our relationship for many years. He was so very non-chalant and cool as a cucumber while explaining all of this to me. There was no apologetic nature to the explanation, save for having kept it secret. This was, in his mind, acceptable behavior, and it was clear he had no intention of discontinuing it. Added to the hurt and anger was the fear instilled in me that I had been engaging in unprotected sex with this man for 10 years. When I confronted him about whether or not he always used protection with these other men, he scoffed at the idea. Not only did he not like or want to use condoms or any other means of protection, he rejected any notion that there was something wrong with that behavior.
As I mentioned, this dream was rather long and involved. In keeping with the craziness of dreams as a whole, the remainder of my evening was filled with all sorts of varying locales that, while I've never seen them before, I knew them as well as any other. I saw people who, though I've never seen their faces, I had known them for years. Some were even friends and family members.
Everywhere I turned within this dream, I was confronted by my harsh new reality. Every male friend or family member, regardless of how long or how well I knew them, was suspect. Those who knew of my partners behavior all along seemed relieved to finally not be burdened with keeping the secret, but their exasperation at having to deal with my inability to deal with it was overwhelming. This was totally acceptable behavior in their minds, and I needed to either get over it or get going.
I was to drop off a family member whom I don't even associate with at the airport and then return to his apartment complex to pick up his boyfriend. This cousin of mine was as put off by my lack of acceptance of my partner's behavior as anyone else. Despite the fact that he was married to a woman, and lived in another town, I was now to accept that he also had a boyfriend on the side. I was also expected to accept that my partner regularly slept with this boyfriend of his as well as sharing other mutual friends-with-benefits. When I had returned to pick up my cousin's boyfriend, I met a couple of other friends who, while they are normally smiling and outgoing, were reserved and hesitant when they walked out of the building and saw me. Their sheepishness in my presence made it all too clear that these so-called friends were oft-times playmates of my partner.
When he finally arrived at this apartment building, I was overwhelmed by feeling of revulsion and betrayal, since I now wondered where exactly he had been while we were apart. Validating my worst nightmare-within-a-nightmare, it was then that I learned the depths of depravity this behavior had truly hit. As we work opposite shifts, my partner felt it his right to have nightly trysts in my absence. To make matters worse, even on days we were together, like the hellish one we were currently in, he felt entirely justified in meeting up with other men on a whim.
Even trying to discuss the matter with one of my nearest-and-dearest, Bethany, was wrought with angst, betrayal, heartache, and all the emotions associate with an Emo kid who just can't stop cutting. My partner encouraged me to talk to my friends about it, assuming they would help me accept all of this and get over it so we could move on. Of all the times for Bethany, who normally has no problem sharing her thoughts and feelings, to be silent, this was not the one. Alas, in this hellish dream, the only talking she did was of the mundane variety, choosing to distance herself from the discomfort of the situation with a simple pat on the shoulder and "I'm sorry you're hurt, but I can't fix it for you" look.
Okay, the worst is over, right? I'm awake now, and back into my reality, so nothing can hurt me.
Since waking up this morning, I have been overwhelmed. At first, I felt the sting of hurt and betrayal. Then it shifted to something much more surprising to me: I'm incredulous.
I know we all think we know how we would react to certain things in our lives. We all like to hope we would react in "just such a way" if that ever happened to me. We go through our lives hearing stories of infidelity from those around us all the time. It's easy to dispense advice and go through the motions in our mind of trying to determine what we would do in their shoes.
I'm here to tell ya', folks, it ain't so simple as all that.
Now, before you start, I know. I know that it was only a dream. Despite knowing that, however, I woke up this morning to a world in which the sky isn't really blue, and up is down. It was only a dream, but at the heart of the matter, where I really want to focus, and what this whole crazy post is leading to, is this: My feelings, both during the course of the dream and upon waking up from it, were really real feelings. While it is possible to fake the expression of emotion, feeling those emotions isn't something that can be easily mimicked.
The sheer panic of waking up to the realization that your whole world revolves on trust is terrifying. Having felt what I did, being so acutely aware that all I have to base the trust in my partner on is his word is, well…
I've known from the day we met over 10 years ago that my partner is capable of lying and deception. We all are. Waking from a dream in which I felt the "reality" of that, and knowing that even if he were to lie and pretend he wanted to give up that behavior is heart-rending. Slowly, with time, some sunshine to remind me it was all a dream, and not-a-little coffee, I have regained my heart and most of my mind. What little shred of my heart I woke up with this morning still felt trampled.
Yet, I can't help but feel I need to call everyone I've ever looked down upon for standing by their significant other and apologize. I thought I knew you. I thought I knew what the right decision was for you. I. Didn't. Know. Jack. Shit.
The part of me who "knows" what I would do in that situation, the one who has his absolute boundaries of what is and is not acceptable, is in my rearview mirror, running for all he's worth, but not realizing he'll never catch up again.
We all do and say weird things in our dreams. There are entire blogs and websites dedicated to telling the stories of people who share the odd scenarios their mind creates while they sleep. The young man in my dream, though, he is trying to teach me about myself and others.
I actually didn't castrate my partner in my dream. I mean, come on, if there is one place you can get away with exacting the type of vengeance on a cheater that we all joke about, it's in dreamland, right? While I could only hope to be understanding and forgiving of someone I love so dearly making a mistake, no matter the magnitude, and no matter if I would actually leave them or not, I just don't understand my behavior in my dream, or the attitude that is developing within my heart and mind since waking up.
Part of the reason I went in to such detail earlier in this post was to illustrate that this wasn't just a one-time, I-was-drunk-and-horny-and-you-have-been-away-for-six-months kind of error in judgment. This was debauchery at it's worst (best?).
And I stayed. I actually talked about it. No running for the lawyer. No fighting over who keeps which dogs. I didn't immediately move as far away as possible.
I have no idea what the outcome will be for the blind, trusts-to-much shmuck I was in my dream. I hope I never find out, to be honest.
What I do know, is in my dream, my calm and rational self (whom I rarely see in real life) stuck around. The dumbass actually wanted to find a way to make it work. He knew, KNEW, that he would never in a million years be able to trust his/our partner again. He knew that a sexual relationship with the man he loved more than any other on earth was over. He knew a life of betrayal, hurt, and heartache lay before him. But he stayed.
Is that forgiveness? Is that grace? What is it? I don't know. I'm not sure what I know anymore, except I know nothing for certain any longer.
Perhaps it really is possible to love someone who tramples everything you are and everything you hope to be. Maybe it is okay to stay and try to make it work, no matter the offense.
Or maybe that guy in my dream was just an idiot.