Mares Of The Night

Interesting side effect of my new heart medication — deeper sleep. And deeper dreams. I’m sleeping through thunderstorms. Dreaming them up, though, especially in dreams about my many ex-spouses. You may pooh-pooh but after several weeks of this I have developed a theory that my beloved heart is finally becoming calm enough to allow me to process the conflicts and traumas of old relationships. Relationships that were once so bad I had to escape them. Our brains process, organize, and initiate repairs while we sleep. Maybe my beloved brain can finally do this with more depth now that it doesn’t have to spend so much time managing my beloved heart.

One might think I’d wake up from these conflict-laden dreams feeling troubled or befuddled but instead I wake up feeling philosophical and interpretive. A baby vomiting on the carpet is a symbol of how sick the relationship was (or was making me). A women wearing yellow popping out from under the covers to surprise me is a flash of insight. And the recurring theme of Me saying NO and standing firm in all the things I should have said and never compromised. Over and over, practicing what I should have done. Things I already know. Reinforcement. Ritual repetition.

My beloved brain is making sure I am reminded. She is conspiring with me in wellness practice, even while I sleep. Because I have relieved her of the burden of spending the bulk of her time dealing with my beloved heart. She can exercise other talents now. And bonus, when we are awake we get to think about it objectively together, without a trauma response, which is something we couldn’t do so well before. We can sit with it a while. A slower pace of contemplation; a step at a time instead of speedskating through analysis. Not possible before. Becoming routine now.

Some things are much, much harder. Running, for one. Any kind of cardio. It takes twice as long to warm up. The heart rate just can’t lift as quickly or comfortably. Muscles feel fatigued faster because it takes them longer to get the extra blood to meet the heavier workload. Tack on an extra 20 minutes to yoga for the same reason. Digestion too. Can’t eat big portions anymore either. Small meals, more of them, only way to go now. But other things are getting easier. Sleeping, for one. And healing.

I’m glad I got to know this feeling. In some philosophies and mindfulness practices we are urged to observe ourselves observing. Observe ourselves reacting. Observe ourselves participating. As if we could change our point of view like folks do in modern video games — watch our character playing the scene instead of staying locked into a first-person experience of the scene. That’s how it is with these dreams. I’m watching myself respond and react and through repetition, rewire and rewrite. The next right thing. The better choice. A close-up paused view of consequences when I didn’t.

Ever wish you could go back and change the past? Correct what you handled badly? Rewind to the pivot point and see how it might have played out differently? Find the clues you missed along the way? Welcome to my dreams since I started heart medication. No mention of any of this in any of the side effect warnings. But then, who would mention it? Only me, I suppose. And thought you may scoff, it does not feel like an accident or coincidence. It feels exactly like the sort of thing to happen to a renaissance heart.

— Mercy

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