The past has been coming back to haunt me.
Over the past few weeks I have been having a series of distressing and upsetting dreams about people and events from the past. I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to process and accept the misfortunes that serve as the basis for these dreams, but clearly, they are still stirring around in my subconscious, waiting to haunt me at the least opportune times.
It is coming up on that time of year again: the residency matching saga where medical students scramble to apply to, interview, and eventually get offered (hopefully) a residency position where they want. If you followed my old blog, you will know how distressing of a time this is for me. If you are new to my blog, I’m sorry that this post will make less sense to you – I will try to find a way to explain the terror that this time of year was for me when I went through it a few years back (perhaps in another blog post).
Intertwined in the match saga is the surge and then eventual demise of my relationship with my old friend and mentor, Kay.
Unfortunately the dreams that have been occurring lately have all involved Kay or other people that elicit the painful and undesirable memories that this time of year holds for me. I know that my current levels of dissatisfaction and confusion about my career choices makes these memories and events even more difficult to tolerate. After all, if I was very happy in my current situation it would be easy to say that “this was the best thing that could have happened to me.” But, I can’t say that. So, my subconscious continues to dwell on the “what if” and “if only” byproducts of my past misfortunes.
One dream that is recurrent, but seems to be more prominent now, involves the resurgence and reconnection of my friendship with Kay. It plays out exactly how I wish it would have long ago. It is a beautiful dream filled with honesty, forgiveness, understanding, and starting anew. However, too much time has passed now and having this dream only causes pain because I know it will never come to be. I end up asking myself why I still dream of having her back in my life as a valued friend, after everything that’s happened. I want to believe that she is a good person who either did what she needed to do at the time, or realized she made a mistake with how she treated me. Unfortunately, as more time passes, I come to believe more and more that she feels that she made the right decision by removing me from her life.
I have “recollection dreams” about how important Kay was at this time in my life, those few years ago. I recall her supportive words and her sympathy and empathy over the catastrophic events. I re-experience all the good and wonderful times we had in our friendship and I wake up to the sorrow of knowing that something so wonderful no longer exists. And to make it worse, that sorrow is filled with feelings of guilt and anger towards myself – reminding me that I am at fault for the absence of this beauty in my life.
Last night my sleep was riddled with variations of the same dream: This one involved interactions and observations of the people who didn’t experience my same misfortunes. These people are, in essence, living the career life that I had imagined for myself… The life that was shattered for me with little explanation, but that was given to them as they expected. I watched them as they expressed satisfaction and happiness with where their lives are going, all while I am lost in the confusion and distress of my own life. The variations involved them coming into my world, and me going into their world, and regardless of where we were, I felt resentment and anger towards them and the system that allowed this to happen.
It is not helpful for me to experience these types of dreams while I am in the midst of trying to overcome negativity in my day to day life. It is difficult for me to get out of bed after a night of distressing dreams and say to myself, “today is going to be a great day!” It is next to impossible to keep looking forward and push through my day -to-day challenges when my subconscious continues to drag my back into the past I am trying to overcome. I can’t control what I think about when I sleep, and I have no solution to overcome this problem.