I dreamt about someone last night. I’m not quite sure how to describe her relationship to me. I have described her as the first person I really loved, but I’m sure lots of people would take issue with that and say it was just infatuation, that as we were never in a real relationship, I could never have loved her. At any rate, she was the first woman I asked out, when I was nineteen and at Oxford. She turned me down. She just wanted to be friends, except eventually she couldn’t cope with my mental health issues, particularly my suicidality and broke off the friendship, going so far as to cut me dead in the street and at Jewish Society meetings. Which made me angry at the time, but I can understand it now. I worry that all my relationships and friendships will end up like this eventually.
I dream about my first love a lot and rarely, if ever, about any of my other lost loves, so I think my subconscious tends to use her as a shorthand for all of them. Which is a bit lazy of my subconscious, when you think about it. It’s not like it would take much effort to whip up the dream form of anyone else. Maybe it’s been long enough that I can cope with her better than with the others, although given that when I get depressed and lonely, I tend to google her (as I did the other day), I still may not be entirely over her, fifteen years on.
Apparently she now works for a charity that provides counselling and mentoring to teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds. I wonder whether her experience with me influenced that job decision.
I dreamt that I met her again and she was divorced (in the real world, I believe she is married with a couple of children) and basically hinted that she was interested in me. I think she touched me in a U-rated, but interested way. Despite the fact that we had both clearly moved on from Oxford, we were back there, although I think the Jewish Society from my Oxford days merged with my current shiur (religious class) crowd.
The romantic side of the dream petered out into an anxiety dream about exams. I don’t know why I was dreaming about exams; again, it was probably standing in for general anxiety. I was worried I was going to fail my finals, because I hadn’t really looked at the work for years. (This may have been triggered by finding an A4 ringbinder full of my old tutorial essays from Oxford and not knowing whether to throw it out or not. It’s currently sitting on my floor, awaiting a decision.) I think I must have woken up at this point. My dreams tend not to have clear plots anyway, but to just flow from one thing to another in a way that makes them hard to recall on waking.
The fact that I googled her recently, along with find the Oxford work probably explains the dream, that and the fact that even fifteen years on, when I have dated (a little bit) and had two relationships, I still don’t really have my love life sorted out, at a time when most of my peers, even many of the non-frum ones, are settled. As I’ve said, I can’t really ever see myself matched off and happy. I don’t think anyone could be happy with me. In the last eighteen months or so, I’ve dated someone who was OK with my mental health, but not with my geeky interests, someone who was OK with my geeky interests, but not my mental health and someone who was OK with neither (probably – it wasn’t clear) and someone who was OK with my interests and, broadly speaking, with my mental health, but needed me to have a full-time job because she also wasn’t well enough, emotionally, to be the main breadwinner. Not to mention the super-frum woman who I was supposed to be set up with who spent a month trying to investigate me to see if I was suitable to even go out on a date with her (I eventually gave up waiting) and a couple of women who sent mixed signals, but things never went anywhere. All of which convinced me that frum women who might be a match for me religiously aren’t interested in me because of my geekiness and religious non-conformity; that only women with emotional issues of their own will be able to see past mine, but that would not make for a good match; and no one is going to be interested in me unless I can get a full-time job and support a family, which may never happen and certainly isn’t going to happen any time soon, probably not soon enough for me to be able to have children. Which is sad, but I’m not sure what I can do. In Judaism, we believe in miracles, but we’re forbidden to pray for them.
I feel there ought to be some concluding paragraph here, but maybe it’s appropriate that it just tails off, unfinished, because that’s how so many of my relationships tend to feel, unfinished, things unsaid and undone, not least that non-relationship from Oxford.