Last night, I had a crazy dream. But NOT “about a chick in a black bikini”. Remember “Chicka-boom, chicka-boom, chicka-boom-boom-boom”?
Anyway, my dream was about the man who had exited my life via cardiac arrest last winter. Since then, I’ve been surfing the waves of grief, learning to navigate its emotional highs and lows.
Let’s get to the Crazy Dream:
In the middle of Dreamland, I respond to a knock on the front door. And in walks my man in all his dapper glory. The same man who’d been rolled out on a stretcher months earlier.
He smiles and chats me up as he heads to the kitchen. It’s like he never left. I get all tingly as I feel his physical presence – his arms around me, that strong hand at the small of my back. Yet something’s different. Isn’t that always the case in dreams? I realize that Hubby doesn’t have that “one thing” on his mind – unusual, even in Dreamland. But I’m not disappointed.
I feel so strangely comforted.
So before sunrise, I wake up with a smile.
Enter the Grieving Widow:
To understand the context of this dream, I’ll honestly admit that I’d lingered in the nadir of grief during the previous week. In case you don’t know, that’s what grief is like: riding the crest of the apex one day or hour, and plunging to the lowest point soon after that amazing high.
So at the end of an acutely grueling day, I finally fell asleep. And before I awoke, I had the dream.
But here’s the thing: This wasn’t a prophetic dream like those produced by Joseph of many-colored-coat fame. After all, I don’t expect my husband’s ashes and spirit to reconstitute themselves into a living breathing human. And I don’t expect to walk through life with a ghost-like presence by my side.
So why is my dream such a big deal?
Simple. It leaves me with a feeling of comfort, which I accept without too much analysis – a first for me.
From this respite, I remember how I’ve been comforted in recent months. From day one and ever since. Little things and big things. I mentally tick off dozens of ways a healing touch has entered my life. My jaw drops.
I recall that I’m not where I was a few months ago. Something is a bit different, even though much is the same. And that thought leads me to …
A Little Lesson about Change for You
Actually, I tease out a lesson in this for all of us – grief not necessary. But we’ll start there for illustrative purposes. Grief creates an incredible longing for something we don’t have. And that’s our segue to change.
The Common Ground: We all long for some kind of change. What is it that you desperately want? Ever notice how that longing feels like a gaping hole inside? A hole that can only be filled with one thing – the object of your desire.
The Common Problem: We want a quick fix. A one-time solution to plug the big gap. Some person or thing or situation to take away the pain: a different job, a better financial reality, someone to love, a new size or shape or attitude.
The Common Reality: There is no quick fix. No one person or thing or situation right now can solve all of our problems. And there’s one good reason for that reality: The path to change is composed of small consistent steps, headed in a common direction.
But reality is a hard pill to swallow:
We take 5 steps forward, and explode with glee. The world is ours!
Then we take 4 steps back and shrink in shame. We are failures!
Such is our common adult deception: We’ve forgotten the biggest lesson of our own babyhood. Back in the day, we lived a truth we now ignore…
Once we were cherubic infants, moving like inchworms. Eventually we crawled. One day we stood. Yet that magnificent event lasted about one second – until we fell inauspiciously on our butts. And there we stayed. Until we got up. And fell. And got up. Over and over again. Next we mastered taking a step while holding on to something. Then came self-propelled locomotion – and about 50 thousand attendant falls. Finally, we were able to walk unaided. It took forever, or so it seemed.
The Common Truth: Adulthood is no different. Take a brief stroll down memory lane. The truth is inescapable. All our accomplishments came through a curious combination of trial and error, success and failure.
Five steps forward and four steps back, repeated over and over, netted positive accomplishment. As long as we consistently moved towards a realistic goal. Like a navigation App, we redirected ourselves after each failure. Sure, we failed quite a bit. Yet with all that redirection, change emerged from the chaos of our failures. So maybe failure isn’t the problem….
So let’s sum up our lesson about human change:
Change often takes a circuitous path, full of glitches and bumps. So we must work for lasting change. Good bye, Quick Fix, you False Friend! Failure is a normal part of successful change. Failure is a cue. It provides an opportunity to redirect our efforts. If we do this often enough, we’ll eventually get in the ballpark of the change we seek.
I think our lives and relationships will change for the better if we apply this lesson consistently.
What do you think?
Speak your mind in the comments.