“Nothing happens unless first we dream”
– Carl Sandburg
When I was younger, I used to think that dreams were a way that we could replay a choice. We could enter a dream and choose another option. Like a looking glass, you could go to another one of your lifelines and see how an event transpired. It was a way of realizing that there was always something better. At least, when I was a child.
As I grew up, I slowly found out that we could only make one choice. We would have to live with that choice whether it was good or bad. There was no second life in our dreams. There was no place where we could go to know that there was something better. Both mere illusions of a child who longed to be happy. That wanted something better. The one choice we made would affect us for the rest of our life.
Every choice has the potential to haunt us. They’re like memories. We look back on them and wonder, what if? What if we made a change? What if we chose differently? What would happen? Then, within seconds we forget. Many of us continue on with our lives without thinking of our past. We don’t dwell on choices we made because we know there will be new ones to make. There will always be another choice, every moment, every second of our life.
I know this, and yet I still find myself going over choices that I have made. I replay them in my mind. Over and over again as if they are movies. Thinking that if I just changed one thing, made one different choice that my life would be better. I have done this since my mid-twenties. My counsellor would say that it’s a way that I mentally inflict self-harm. That I replay my life through worry and regret. That it’s a form of punishment that I don’t live my life.
For a week now I have had nightmares. They started before my last counsellor visit. The Saturday night before Halloween, I dreamt about inflicting self-harm. For nights afterwards I replayed choices in my mind. Bullying, A woman that I liked two years ago. My own self depreciation. Most nights I would wake up yelling. Cold. Unloved.
See I know that we can’t go back and undo the choices we made. It hasn’t stopped me from trying. Part of my problem is that I can’t seem to let go. That part will always come back to haunt and hurt me. No matter how much I know better.
“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien