Taking on Water

The title might be a bit dramatic, but stay with me.

In the dream, I think I was driving a minivan, similar to the one I used to drive for work. It was pouring outside, harder than anything I’d seen before, but I wasn’t concerned. For some reason, my dreams have been more vivid than usual lately, and they’re sticking with me if I want them to. Most of them I’ve deemed to be useless, and I let them go. In this one, though, I’m on the phone with my grandfather, and I’m telling him about how beautiful the Cape Cod Canal is when the sun hits it just right. I tell him this even though I can’t see it well. It’s obscured by the rain and fog. I should pull over to the side of the road and let the worst of it pass, but I press on.

I get trapped on a bridge going over the canal, and the water keeps coming harder and harder. I lose my sense of myself, my location, and the water pours over and over. There are waves of water, and I tell my grandfather that I might not make it out, but I can’t bring myself to be direct, and so it keeps coming out in euphemisms. He keeps telling me random things, banal and innocuous, as I sit there and contemplate my fate. I don’t know what is going to happen, if I will make it out, but I suppose that it doesn’t matter. I wake up before I found out what’s next.

Most of my dreams mean absolutely nothing, but this one I wrote down. It stuck with me a little bit longer because I couldn’t help but think about the message it seemed to convey. I’ve found myself in this situation before, taking on water, and unable to truly find someone to hear me out. It’s not always the other party’s fault. Frequently it’s mine. I’ve written before about so often it’s my judgement that the other person isn’t ready to hear what I have to offer, and so I keep things to myself. The problem is that once you keep one thing to yourself, well, you keep something else to yourself, and the pile becomes larger and larger. You feel yourself becoming desperate, but in your mind, you’ve already told yourself that people around you just won’t understand. The slope is ever slippery.

Sometimes, we’re trying to tell people that something isn’t right, that something is off, and they either don’t give you the space to truly give them your spiel, or you perceive that they’re not giving you that space, or you’re truly worried about burdening them, and you keep it to yourself. In my experience, it’s usually the latter two than the former. Usually people are more willing to listen than we given them credit for, but in our own distorted universe, we flip things around, and suddenly, there is no one there for us, no one there to listen to what we have to say.

You keep it to yourself even though you know you need to let loose, even though the burden may be becoming too much for you to handle. Just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and amazingly enough, it’s these invisible accumulations that can do so much damage, that can impair our functioning, and we hope that we reach out for help before it’s too late. To catch something early is truly an amazing accomplishment, but we frequently miss the signs.


“Is this what you tried to tell me over Thanksgiving?!”

And then you unload, and the backlash you were expecting, it doesn’t come. What you find instead is an incomprehensible amount of understanding, and a person offering you their shoulder to cry on, if you require it. We like to think of people as not being there for us. I’ve frequently thought of people as not having the time, or maybe I just have myself ready for the letdown, so when it comes, it doesn’t hurt as much.

Maybe we should instead be ready for the surprise. We should be ready for the fact that people can be so bloody amazing, that they can offer us so much more than we expected, and that it’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to assume the worst, but at least leave the door open a crack. Leave the door open for the possibility that someone will walk through and be everything that you need in the moment when you need it the most. Believe that there are people in your life who will be everything and more, that will help you through this difficult time that you’re going through.

I don’t know how that dream ends, but I like to think that I was finally able to tell my grandfather that I truly might not make it, and then that admission led to an abatement of the storm. With calmness restored, I was able to drive across the bridge, pick up my delivery, or drop off some stuff. That last part doesn’t matter. It’s unbelievable how much better we can feel when we finally let it out, when we finally shed our own weight, and we are open and honest with the people in our lives, rather than trying to diffuse the situation with euphemisms or humor.

Some dreams are easier to interpret than others. I only hope that I don’t put myself in situations again where I stop telling the people in my life the things that matter, the way they never stop telling me the things that matter. I like to believe that I’ve outgrown the problems of my past, that I’m getting stronger, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t have moments of profound vulnerability. That doesn’t mean that I can’t falter, that I won’t make mistakes, or that I won’t need to talk to someone about the things I’m going through. Never believe you are infallible because that’s when you’ll slip up. Stay open, be open to others, and follow your heart. Thanks for reading.


One thought on “Taking on Water

  1. Your observations apply not only to you but to all of us. Burying things and putting on a superficial smile are coping mechanisms which aren’t always the best for us. Sometimes a good vent relieves the burden.🍒


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