“Do you understand that I love you, not the things you do?”
That’s how I started my sales pitch. I didn’t have time to think about how to make my case, so I was just speaking from my heart. But I felt a lot of pressure, because I knew I would lose the woman I loved if I didn’t make my case effectively — and only she would decide whether she believed me.
I’ve been trying for days to figure out how to explain this dream. It’s too complicated to explain all the pieces, but it feels too meaningful to ignore. For weeks, I’ve been having complex dreams which played out bits and pieces of a story, but the unexpected turning point came in a dream earlier this week.
In the earlier parts of the dreams, she and I had been working on repairing a house. It was a beautiful house where we were going to live together as soon as we married. The house seemed both literal and symbolic. It was to be our home and it also represented the work we were doing to be emotionally healthy together.
But in the latest part of the story, her life completely fall apart.
The details are unclear. I’m not sure they matter here. She somehow lost everything she had. She was publicly humiliated and felt like a failure for the first time in her life.
She was devastated and depressed, but her reaction was not what I expected. Instead of turning to me for help and support, she wanted to run away from me. When I finally got some sort of explanation out of her, she told me she had to leave, because nobody could possibly love her now.
The very thing which made her need me most also made her certain that I couldn’t love her. She was stripped of everything she had believed to be important about herself. And it was only then that I understood that she believed she was worthy of love only because of things she had done — her achievements and success.
And that’s when I made my sales pitch.
I was in complete darkness. I saw no source of light around me. I could see myself when I looked at my body, but there was nothing else around. I was in a black void. (This setting has appeared in my dreams before, often with a symbolic representation of God behind me.) It was like being on the darkest stage of life. I knew she was listening, maybe watching. I just knew this was my last chance to keep her — and possibly to save her life as well.
I didn’t have time to prepare my words. I wasn’t especially eloquent. I don’t remember all that I said. But certain parts of what I said are still vivid to me. I’ve had an irrational impulse for several days to record those words on video, but that would be silly — because it was just a dream. And there is no one to watch it or to listen.
“Do you understand that I love you, not the things you do?” I asked rhetorically. “I’m just now understanding that you might not know the difference. I see now that you tried to tell me this in the past, but I didn’t fully understand what you meant, because it was so different from my own experience.”
As I talked, I suddenly understood more and more of the things about her which hadn’t made sense to me until now.
“I’ve always been in love with the parts of you that you’ve tried to run from,” I said. “I was proud of you for your successes and achievements, but those were secondary to why I loved you. A lot of women are very successful and have great achievements, but those things don’t attract me to them. Your success isn’t what attracted me to you. It never really mattered.”
As I talked, something odd happened with the light around me. I had been in the black void, but a faint light started all around me and slowly started getting brighter.
“The things you have been so proud of about yourself are the least valuable things about you,” I said. “You can lose all of those things which you’ve been so proud of and you can never lose the piece of you which made me fall in love with you.”
I realized that the light was getting brighter, like an incredibly brilliant sunrise. I didn’t see any landscape or horizon. The light was simply everywhere — and it was getting brighter as it worked its way through pink and purple all the way to orange and then finally to a bright yellow more like daylight.
“Now that I understand your attachment to those things, I’m glad they’re gone,” I said. “Now that you’ve lost everything, you can see yourself as I see you. Maybe you can learn to love yourself for the things I’ve always seen in you.”
It was completely light by this point, but I still saw nothing except myself and the light that enveloped me. If it had been real sunlight, it would have hurt my eyes and been burning hot, but this was more like a brilliant and powerful presence, not something painful.
“I love your heart,” I said. “I love you whether you have anything or not. I love you whether anybody else sees you as a success or not. I love you even if everybody else decided you were a failure. I love the person you are on the inside. I know you’re flawed. I know you have a lot of growth to do, just as I still do. But no matter what your situation in life — and no matter what you need to work on — I love you just for being yourself. That’s something nobody can take away from you. And nobody can take away my love for the person you are — what you are in your heart. Now that you’ve lost what you thought mattered, now we can start all over — if you’ll trust me.”
That’s all I can remember of what I said. I wish now I had written it down the next day, because more of the words seemed clear at the time. I wanted to write about this, but it’s been so hard to explain. I just felt like recording it and putting it out there into the world for her to find one day.
Of course, the reality is that it was all a dream and doesn’t matter. Even though I know who I dreamed about, she’s never lost everything. She’s very successful. She’s been so successful in all that she’s done that I doubt she could even connect with what I’m saying unless she did experience tremendous failure. And that’s not likely for her.
Why did I dream this?
Maybe I’m just working through understanding how much I fear she overvalues her worldly success and undervalues who she really is. I know her well enough — and I know enough about her psychology — to believe this would apply to her in a time of great loss.
I’ve lost everything I’ve had before, so I know what that feels like. I’ve had a couple of periods in my life when I’ve lost the identity which I thought defined me. I’ve gone through a long period when I was humiliated by how far I’d fallen in the world. I felt a lot of shame for not being what I had thought I would be.
For me, it’s been from those times of loss that I’ve discovered great truths about myself and about life. What I’ve learned is that it’s only through great loss — of being stripped of what we thought was important — that we can start over and understand what’s really important in life.
I can’t tell you why I put this lesson into the context of this woman. I doubt she would understand the real significance at this point — since she does rely so much on her achievements for her self-image — but it still feels like an important story to tell. I don’t know why.
The things which we value so much tend to be burdens holding us back, even though we rarely see that. One of life’s paradoxes is that solving our most important issues and moving forward with our personal growth requires loss of what we believe matters most.
Out of the ashes of our greatest loss often comes our greatest victories — and it’s often where we find the love and security we’ve been craving all along.