The other night, when I was lying in bed with the lights out and eyes closed, about to drift off to sleep, I intuitively smelled one of my ancestors, the covers ever so slightly felt more snug around my body, and then felt a gentle warmth on my head. This is the first time I can recall this happening with the spirits, as I was being tucked in by my Ah Zoh (my great Grandmother)! And at 41 years of age, there is something rare and precious about this. To be cherished as a child in the mundane activity of going to bed.
As I relished in the experience of her visit and held the kiss on my forehead, I heard her say, “Sleep well. There will be messages tonight.”
I didn’t exactly sleep well that night by the textbook definition (though I did wake up feeling tremendously restored). It was July, and though summer arrived late this year, the heat did eventually come and the nights were feeling a bit stuffy. I tossed and turned and eventually fell asleep, but it was a sweaty and sticky sort of night, coupled with a few trips to the washroom on account that I must have drank more water than usual earlier in the evening.
The dreams came. An ex-friend (let’s call her A) from a number of years ago visited. Consistent with how the dynamics were in real life, her behaviour of only getting in touch with me when she needed or wanted something to the exclusion of anything resembling a healthy, reciprocal friendship persisted in the dreams. In the dream, A had asked me for a number of things, but what came through the most was asking for a name and their contact. A then passed me a note which I received with a curious, open hand. The scrap of paper containing the note was a blue-lined page haphazardly ripped out of a coiled notebook, with the torn dots within the margins of the paper barely hanging on. And the penmanship was scribbled with both carelessness and calculated cruelty: What makes you think you’re special? We’re only friends because you’re useful.
Then I woke up.
My throat felt parched and the clouds in my head began dissipating. A’s words like an arrow had plunged into a ravine within, deep and inescapable. The truth of it all so succinctly and plainly said. In that instance, I recalled all the other times where I struggled with my worth and voice in my life. For confusing feeling needed with feeling loved, for not discerning the difference between being valued versus being used, and my own failures to express my own needs and maintain boundaries until situations became unbearable (at which point, the dynamic had been so established that A or any other similar friend had a hard time accepting my voice).
This I had come to understand over the years. That I had my own responsibilities of meeting my own needs. That compromising silently is not virtuous patience, and that expressing my needs in any relationship is a dance, one that is reciprocal and one that may ask for compromise, but one that can be honouring to all. Still, I wondered why the dream. I had thought that this was well understood and integrated in my waking life?
I reach for my phone in my morning routine, anticipating my usual 10 minute news scrolling. And there it was, a text had arrived after I had gone to bed. Another friend (let’s call her B) who shares a similar tendencies to A is asking for the name and details of someone in my contacts list. Would I introduce them, B asks.
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