I had a dream of you last night. It was unlike the others. This one was peaceful. You were here visiting. We lived in a large family home I do not own, nor ever could. You sat at the built-in desk that flanked the generous living room, replete with burning fireplace and soft couch. I was keenly aware of our…separateness…but we were talking about the kids as though we were – at least temporarily – a team. I was explaining things that had happened, things that you had missed. We calmly discussed things like their teachers and their friends and their favorite things to eat and to play with. It was as though, even though I possessed the consistent awareness that we were divorced, that somehow I could co-exist with you without wanting to shout at you or to reason with you or to convince you of how deeply you’d harmed us. It was also the feeling that I was not alone in parenting for the first time since having our children, the basic right I never realized I’d be denied shortly after they were born. This realization brought me to semi-consciousness in the real world and I became aware that I had been dreaming of you.
And then a very rare thing happened. Because I lay somewhere between the precipice of the dream world and reality, I was suddenly able to take control of the dream. I became aware that the ‘things you had missed’ comprised the entirety of their lifetimes, and I could feel the familiar white-hot rage begin to grow in my cheeks and my temples and my jaw. Things were no longer peaceful. I walked over to a built-in mini bar in our plush living room and calmly began to make you a cocktail. I walked it over and set it down next to you, which you noticed and thanked me for with mild surprise. I leaned close to your face and in a secretive, almost seductive whisper, I asked ‘Do you ever realize the damage you have caused and are causing? Like, do you even realize the damage you are doing to your children when you deny them access to their father while making them watch you on camera being a father to other children?’ You slowly looked at me, shocked. You said, ‘Well you make a good point, I hadn’t thought about that.’ To which I responded ‘Yes. And that is exactly the problem.’ I calmly picked up the cocktail and poured it over your head. You jumped up in shock and surprise as the ice-cold liquid poured down your face, and with that, I woke up.
Immediately, I curled sideways into a ball and cried soundlessly into the pillow, afraid that when I’d next be able to draw breath that the uncontrolled sob would wake everyone at once. I have never been taken over by such profound and guttural grief so completely or so quickly from a dream, though I’ve had dozens featuring you over the years since you ghosted me and our babies. I think it’s because dreams where I feel any kind of positive feeling towards you at all are the absolute worst. They make me feel vulnerable to you. Being vulnerable and trusting is how, on a day almost 6 years ago, I experienced the evisceration of my soul by my best friend and life partner. In those 6 years, I have re-forged myself into a new person out of experience and necessity. This person can be happy and healthy, but also skeptical, untrusting, cynical, and in many ways still raw. The rawness comes from new wounds that I regularly receive upon watching our innocent children experience and re-experience the faux fatherhood you have bestowed upon them with your selfishness. Moving to the opposite coast was your decision, yet you have the balls to tell the kids you miss them. And for the records: Skype is NOT parenting. For children, it’s little more than empty well-wishes from a distant land. It’s a testament to your delusion and an insult to what they should be expected to deserve. Shame on you, now and forever, for your 5 year physical absence in the lives of these human beings you brought into the world and left behind for me to parent alone without my team-mate, partner or friend. I look upon you now as little more than the ghost of a man who’s taken his own life and I as his widow, left to deal with every manner of pragmatic and emotional fallout now and forever. Yet, you don’t even have the decency to stop haunting my dreams…