For the past four months, I’ve begged God for a dreamless sleep.
Sometimes, I crawl between the chocolate sheets, and sleep crashes into me. Darkness, rest, morning. But some nights, sleep isn’t so kind. Perhaps, it was the Valentine’s Day energy still buzzing from dinner and wine and an the horrific assault of too many perfumes and colognes all in one place. Or too much television, electric stories blinking on and off the screen, my mind worn down to its barest, rawest place. Sleep should have been easy–slip off into that good night. Morning and dog walks and routine. It wasn’t.
Dreams have a way of fettering out all the mess locked away during conscious moments.
Maybe, it’s just mine. But between night and morning, I remember standing on my front porch. Thankfully, fully clothed. Sitting next to me, my Ginger dog, the first birthday present my husband ever gave me, lay on her giant green dog bed, tail wagging and alive. And then, she bolts. Head bounding, legs springing like Tigger, but she runs farther and farther away. For moment, she turns her head back toward me, still standing on the porch calling for her, and she disappears into the blackberry thicket and pine trees. Gone.
In my dream, she’s alive and vibrant. In the waking world, she’s been dead for four months. The day before my 31st birthday to be exact.
I wake up sobbing into my pillow, a guilt ridden mess. I can hear my other two dogs squirming in their crate ready to go outside, but I’m not ready to face the empty space where Ginger should be. But isn’t. Through the curtains, sunlight streams down on the kitchen floor, and the skies cold and clear blue. But I see only darkness, everything tightly closed up. I feel the bitter hand of self-abuse grasp my heart, and I allow it to whisper guilty lies–“if you hadn’t been selfish, Ginger would still be here.” Or another variation, “if you were normal and asked for stuff, Ginger would still be here.” The guilt and self-shaming kept telling me, “your fault, your fault, your fault” like drums banging out Taps.
Even now, I can’t write about Ginger without sobbing and feeling the searing hot guilt all over.
Days like these that I drop f-bombs into my prayers and desperately whisper apologies because my version of God looks more like a vindictive chain smoking whore than loving being. Growing up, God took things away from us if we loved something besides Him. And I don’t want him to take away my other two dogs because for a long time I felt certain that he stole Ginger from me like a pissed off toddler who can’t play with his favorite toy.
I lived with this view of God for most of my life, and it plunges me back into the black hole of shame and guilt. There is no lightness or love or kindness in this vindictive deity. Just shame and fear and despair. I imagine I hear God saying, “well, it’s your fault, bitch, deal with it.”
That’s some fucked up theology to live with everyday.
But then I pray for a miracle, and it snows in the South after sunny and 60’s. Maybe, you think I’m crazy for seeing a few pure white snowflakes and miraculous, but they were. Slowly, the light is coming back, and God doesn’t look so angry or bitter or vengeful. I can sort through all the self-imposed shame and be free. Truly free.