Friday, July 01, 2011

dreams with old boyfriends ... the dark side

Am I the only person who, years after a relationship has ended and both parties have moved on, still occasionally has a dream where there is a reconciliation with an old flame, or, alternately, a darker version, a lesson of sorts, depicting why the relationship was doomed? I had one of the latter last night, where said boyfriend behaved in a less-than-stellar fashion. It was a pretty extreme version of why we broke up, highlighting things we could never agree on. When I woke up from the dream I was unsettled. Not that I have unfinished business, but that my unconscious mind would want to, need to, make him a "bad guy." Still-repressed anger? After such a long time? Or just a quirky dreamscape that cut-and-pasted some things from my past with some bad boyfriend tropes?

As coincidence would have it, or you might say, "There is no such thing as coincidence," the first song I heard on the car radio this morning was Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know." Talk about variations on a theme. It's still as fresh and shocking as when it first came out, with her quirky vocal delivery and total lack of fear to plumb the depths of her own unconscious.

And every time you speak her name
Does she know how you told me you'd hold me
Until you died, till you died?
But you're still alive ...

And I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

The song can be read in so many ways, just as break-ups are full of so many conflicting emotions. Revenge, despair, happy to be rid of the jerk, going crazy from being left — it's all there. This is no saccharine "Breaking Up is Hard to Do." But that's probably because it's a woman singing, and women know how to share their pain.

Alanis's full-on declaration of war, but also reminder that all is not hunky-dory in her world ("the mess you left when you went away") brings to mind the classic Glenn Close portrayal of a woman scorned, Alex, from Fatal Attraction. Director Adrian Lyne chose to make the story a horror movie, told from the man's point of view, with Alex becoming a bunny-murdering psychopath. But the audience (and I) could never really totally view Alex as a villain. Yes, she did some crazy shit, but the first half of the film — the seduction, the affair, the dumping — how many of us have been in that situation?

There was something very real about her vulnerability and how Michael Douglas's lawyer Dan went for it and then callously walked away from it. The movie amped up the drama, even to operatic heights, with Alex listening to Puccini's Madame Butterfly and terrorizing Anne Archer's nice little suburban wifey. But the same clarion call that is in Alanis's song was there in Alex's character — "I'm not going to be ignored ..."

So what does all of this mean for me and my dreams, except that now I probably have to look forward to some bunnies invading my unconscious? Probably not that much. As much as I loved Papa Freud's Interpretation of Dreams when I first read it in college, I tend to believe that dreams function primarily as a brain collage. Sometimes you shake up the box and some of the old faces and places come to the forefront. I'm sure Freud would agree with my interpretation that some anger and frustration that I am dealing with in my daily life got mixed up, kaleidoscope fashion, with some events from my past. If I hadn't waked up mid-dream I might not have even remembered it. And then I wouldn't have made the Alanis connection, or started thinking about Fatal Attraction — and the merry-go-round goes round and round ...

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