Dreams of my youth

My subconscious is so mysterious to me. I know there’s a lot of processing going on in it all the time. A few times a year, a rare gem emerges from it: insights into one of my behaviors/actions or that of a family member or close friend, for example. I find this both marvelous and frustrating, because I wish it didn’t take me so long to figure stuff out. It seems most other people are better at reading these tea leaves than me.

In the past few months I’ve had several nights full of vivid and highly memorable dreams featuring an old boyfriend. This was my first serious boyfriend and he entered my life at a time when I was still quite young (late teens). We kept up an on again/off again relationship over a long distance for many years.

I have regrets about how our relationship stopped being an exclusive one and became what it did instead. For many years, I felt that this change was all my fault for being so needy and fragile. (Of course I realize that narrative is wrong now.) I thought I wanted to marry him, and he didn’t seem keen on it. So I shut him out for a while and pursued another relationship that ended up being very bad.

When we reconnected years later a lot was different, but we were still attracted to each other and that there was a comfortable familiarity, too. He was going through a tough time. His mother was dying and he wanted me to visit him so badly that he paid for my plane ticket since I didn’t have the money to do it.

And so our odd long-distance relationship truly began. It was a FWB arrangement, at a time when that phrase hadn’t yet entered the general lexicon. We enjoyed each other’s company, felt comfort with each other, yet didn’t have to put in the real work of a relationship. He had moved since our exclusive days and now lived in a popular tourist destination, so there was always something fun to do during those long weekend visits.

For me, there was still the tug and desire for a more traditional LTR, though. Once or twice I’d get wrapped up with someone and wouldn’t see him for many months, or even a year or two. But when the relationship didn’t work out, I would get in touch and a visit would be arranged. To me and probably most people he seemed to be a dedicated bachelor.

Once he paid for another very expensive plane ticket to fly me halfway around the world with him to visit his father. We were together day and night for more than two weeks, and I realized how much of a challenge it would be for me to live with him every day. When I returned from that trip I started dating the man who I would marry just over a year later (and divorce 11 years after that). I recall talking to him about my choice to marry and receiving his best wishes.

After my divorce, I reached out to him again and arranged a visit with him. We had both changed a lot over the years, but he was still a bachelor. In just those few days it was clear we still hadn’t changed so much that our habits wouldn’t rub against each other in uncomfortable ways, though.


When I next contacted him a few months later he told me he was seeing someone and was thinking that they may get married. It was my turn to pass on best wishes to him and we haven’t interacted since then.

But in the past few months I’ve had these vivid dreams about him. In these dreams, he is usually in bed with me, mostly as a comforting presence, but sometimes there is physical contact. I wake from these dreams full of longing and wanting to sink back into that dream state where I have him next to me. Recalling our times together I remember how much he made me laugh, the meals we enjoyed, and conversations and adventures we had.

Years ago, I visited the city where we had lived together with a friend. After a few days of my nostalgic comments of how much I missed living there my friend questioned me “Do you really miss the city or do you miss being that young?”

I think that is what is going on in my head when I sleep. He has become a symbol of my youth and of simpler times. Of how connecting with another person could be fun and not require examination or emotional labor. I miss the time when my body seemed less of a burden and more of a joy, and when I had someone who I could turn to for physical, animal comfort: a cuddle, a kiss, a fuck.

Now that I’ve puzzled this out and written it down, I wonder if the dreams will stop. I’m not sure I want them to.


3 thoughts on “Dreams of my youth

  1. I most often dream about being in college again and they happen quite regularly. I don’t yearn to be back in that time though in any way except being in a younger body. I think those years are very formative and stick with you forever. Even the closeness of friends seems somehow different and deeper but I worked 24/7 back then and was glad for those times to be behind me. The romantic relationships I was in were also bad so I definitely don’t think it was a yearning to be back in that time. Sometimes I have hybrid dreams of current people in past places (like in college).

    For the first time ever, I recently dreamed of myself in my current body instead of the perfect younger one I usually have in all my dreams. That was very depressing as I now wonder if my brain has finally admitted defeat. I am also about 30 pounds up from a good adult weight for me (and it took almost 6 months to drop 10 pounds…it was 40). It’s very depressing to be overweight as it’s a domino effect. It makes you tired and achy which makes you crave sugar for energy and want to be sedentary . It’s so difficult to pull out of that downward spiral.

    The good thing is that you only have work and health to focus on right now. Don’t ever give up hope that it is possible to get thinner again. I struggle with this.

    My mom had major heart surgery recently and have to help her daily into bed and help wash her and put her cpap on. Most of her issues are weight related. She is over 100 pounds overweight at 5′ tall. I see myself slowly becoming her and it scares the hell out of me. I don’t ever want to ‘accept my body as big and beautiful’ because when I did become okay with that extra 10 pounds, it became 20, then 30, then 40.

    I didn’t mean for this response to be all about me, but just know you are not all alone in this. We will both figure out what works for us and it does change over time. I wish my body could still tolerate caffeine as that prevented sugar cravings but that is life. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.


    • I look at my mother and her mother before her as the role model of what I do *not* want to be: obese and diabetic. I never had to really work at keeping myself reasonably thin until I got close to 30. Then it was super easy to lose the weight I had put on by being sedentary at work. Now it’s more difficult, but I’m determined not to become chronically ill because of all the extra pounds and the havoc it wreaks on my body.


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