The Dream

About a week ago I dreamed that I sat in a Vietnamese restaurant eating with several of my friends. A little later on in the dream, I saw myself crouch forward, and I felt a little Asian boy throw his arms around my neck. I heard us laughing together, and a rush of happiness filled my body as I recognized this child as my son. I then turned to the right and saw an attractive Asian man standing along the wall of the restaurant, who I identified as my husband. I thought to myself, right before waking up: I wish my grandmother were alive to see this.

I felt so annoyed with myself from the moment I woke up from this dream. Lying down on my bed, I thought: omg Thomas, you’ve worked so hard to disentangle yourself from the heteronormative patriarchal path of having a husband and a child, and then your brain literally betrays you like this. When I ranted to my therapist about having this dream, she pointed out, with an amused smile, that I felt happy with my son and husband. I acknowledged her insight, then I reminded her about how dangerous the idea of a husband and a child feels to me. Even now, I can think of several reasons to steer clear of that path at all costs: knowing so many people who pursue having a romantic partner and child in part because they do not love themselves, disliking how the choice to have a husband and child may stem from socialization, and the lack of control that accompanies maybe desiring a husband and child.

This picture is not really related to this post however I reflected on these topics when I walked in the snow a couple of days ago! This is a picture of the nature trail near my apartment yay. We love introspection over following societal norms without question.

When I think about people who pursue a romantic partner in part because of not loving themselves, I recall an ex-friend who told me that she felt afraid that if her boyfriend broke up with her, she would “be all alone in [REDACTED STATE NAME].” This memory freaks me out, because then I wonder: omg, if I date a man, will I become dependent on him like I’ve seen so many of my more femme friends and acquaintances be when they date men? However, I try to remind myself that I am already different from these folx, because I do love myself and my close friends and no man will ever take that love away from me. Two of my closest friends are kinda interested in dating people and both of them feel confident in their ability to maintain their independence and radicalness whether they date folx or not – so I will try to follow in these friends’ footsteps, with confidence in my capacity to stay true to myself.

Then I wonder about how much of my desire to date a man stems from socialization. I remember a time a friend once told me that his father asked his mother to marry him after the two of them had gone to a wedding together; my friend said that when his parents split up, his father wondered if he would have proposed if he and his ex-wife had not gone to that one wedding. This story reminds me so much of the presence of amatonormativity and how romance is glorified through manufactured celebrations like Valentine’s Day, through the wedding industrial complex, and through society’s promotion of the nuclear family.

Would I have had that dream if not for all the messages I have received through my life exalting romance? When I reflected on this while playing tennis the other day, I remembered that socialization or not, it doesn’t really matter, because I can say with full confidence that I will live a happy and fulfilled life regardless of whether I ever date a man or have a kid. Even if socialization affects my dreams, I have taken my mind back, through engaging in tangible steps to unlearn normative messages surrounding romance and relationships. If I ever do date a man, I will always prioritize my close friendships because these friendships manifest outside of the state and heteronormative patriarchal tradition.

I do experience moments of guilt and doubt: guilt over desiring a man at all, as well as doubt because even if I let myself want to date a man, there is no guarantee a man will ever emerge who I want to date and who wants to date me. I remember though, that almost nothing is guaranteed in life anyway. It was not guaranteed that I would escape my abusive household, that I would develop my loving close friendships, that I would heal myself and contribute to the collective healing of communities I care about. So, I’m going to continue living openly, and I’m going to try my best to honor what I want without letting guilt consume me. No matter what happens, I’ll still write, feel, and love my way back to myself. I’ll still be me.

Okay selfie from two days ago in the snowy nature trail yay! You can see some strands of my pink hair lol. I love spending time with myself.

What are your reactions to this post? Have you had any dreams lately that have stood out to you? How do you reconcile wanting or not wanting a more heteronormative life path? I am publishing this post while withstanding an awful fever as a side effect of getting the second dose of the vaccine whew. Until next post!

6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Dream

  1. Sometimes I overthink my dreams. It’s just my brain working it’s way through the cluttered thoughts. I did like your dream and figured if you had a child, you will be singing Blackpink songs instead of lullabies.

    I do like what you wrote – you’ll still be you and be true to your values.

    It’s nice to have a nature trail close to your home. I live right in the city and while there’s a park nearby, it’s nothing like the trail in your picture.

    I hope by now you’ve recovered from your fever. Have a safe week.

    • Thanks so much Matt for these warm feelings and reactions! Yeah I suppose dreams sometimes can mean something and other times mean nothing, or at least not as much meaning as we prescribe them. I think my dreams often force me or motivate me to reckon with things that I suppress or repress in my daily life to maintain my high level of functioning, lol. Appreciate you highlighting me staying true to myself and yes I’ve recovered from my fever, only lasted for a day and totally worth getting the vaccine despite the side effects!

  2. Nice to see you wrapped up warm. I’m disappointed though – I thought the child in the dream was YOU! Dammit! I think that’s because i was talking about inner child work with a friend who’s going through some intensive therapy at the moment, though, and I was telling her about that time my therapist had me do DRAWING (ugh) of me plus inner child. Not the most fun I’ve ever had.

    Anyway I’ve been having dreams about hugging friends and going to someone’s caravan they had near their house to visit them inside for tea. All forbidden things that felt as transgressive as dreaming about going to an orgy or something!

    • Ooooooh that’s a perspective I hadn’t considered Liz, maybe the child was me! I’m going to reflect more on that perspective because I can see parallels there too. I feel like it’s great that you and your friends talk about your therapy experiences even if therapy has been painful in the past.

      Omg I totally resonate with missing hugging friends and hanging out with them indoors in less restricted ways. Ugh, fingers crossed that the vaccine rollout improves so we can engage in those behaviors again sooner rather than later.

  3. I’ve enjoyed your insightful reviews on Goodreads for awhile now, but haven’t read your blog before! I can really relate to this post — I recently ended a relationship where I didn’t feel happy, but I’ve felt the subconscious guilt of “giving up” on something I’ve been socially conditioned to want and uphold. Maybe it’s my age (26), maybe it’s because of quarantine, but this year more than ever before what feels good and meaningful to my soul feels clearer than ever. And it diverges from the narrative I’ve been socially surrounded by that a relationship should be the core of meaning in your life. As a woman, I think femme folks are certainly socialized from birth to internalize the idea that their value and life meaning comes from providing care for others. Even as a radical leftist queer feminist, that socialization is hard to shake, and I still am not not certain where the socialization ends and where my heart starts. In the meantime, I’m trying to take it day by day and follow my soul’s direction towards what nourishes it.

    I really like your insight on how friendships manifest outside of the state and patriarchal tradition. I was speaking with a friend recently about how strange it is to so rarely see accurate representation of deep female friendship onscreen, because from my life experience and that of my friends, female friendships have been the most important forces in giving my life structure and meaning. Your note on this made me reflect on how abstractly and generally speaking, friendships present no clear structural value to American capitalism, patriarchy, or nationalism. Marriage does. Institutionalized higher education does, as well (I reflect on this because I am a stressed-out grad student). Their outputs — especially the traditional ones heavily emphasized by external and institutional social pressure (marriage, children, entering white-collar jobs, which all incentivize buying goods and property) — are tangible, quantifiable, readily identifiable, and can generate profit. In their most extreme and harmful forms, they encourage the destruction and sacrifice of the self (typically the marginalized and femme self) to create profit or service for the state or the patriarchy.

    Friendships do not have a clear linear path that produces an “output.” There is no clear or reliable economic “profit” to be drawn from friendship. Yet, I know in my heart, in my experience, and can see in the experiences of people around me, that friendships are the lifeblood of our souls. They are the only human connections we have that hinge not on profitable exchange, insecurity, or chemical instincts to reproduce/hoard, but solely because we enjoy and value the soul of the other person.

    Thanks for sharing your writing, Thomas!

    • Omg thank you so so much for this thoughtful comment Jennifer, literally made my evening last night when I opened my inbox and read it! First, I’m happy for you that it sounds like ending that relationship was a move that felt right for you and that on a daily basis you’re doing what feels best for you and your soul, even if it’s difficult to discern at times where socialization ends and where your heart begins. I relate to that a lot (as evidenced by my many posts interrogating that) and I’m vibing with what you write about how it’s okay to take it day by day and not to have to draw like, definitive conclusions given that processing and combatting socialization is I imagine a lifelong process.

      Thanks so much too for so eloquently and powerfully writing about why I value friendship so much, especially friendship with my fellow femme friends. I sent your comment to one of my close friends and may literally just reference it whenever I write/talk about friendship in the future lol. As someone who values autonomy and compassion outside of the state I do feel that friendship is one of the most revolutionary forms of connection, especially friendship that entails healthy communication and boundaries, shared values, etc.

      So appreciate you dropping by from Goodreads and I like a lot of the books on your tbr list! Hope to hear from you again and/or that we can continue to support one another from afar in our radical leftist queer feminist agendas!

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