Friday, June 19, 2009
In my dream Wednesday night, I was at my first wife, Eileen's, parents' house for dinner. Eileen was there. We had become good friends and sitting at dinner with her parents was relaxed, easy.
(In my waking life, Eileen and I have had no contact for twenty-three years.)
Preparing to dig into our meal, Eileen's husband's parents arrived. They didn't know who I was. They didn't know I would be there. Eileen's father leaned into the ear of Eileen's father-in-law and Eileen's mother did the same to her counterpart and whispered that I was Eileen's first husband.
The garage was right off Eileen's parents' kitchen. With a quick jerk of the head, Eileen's father-in-law invited me to leave the table and go to the garage.
He turned on me: "You know the Roman Catholic church annulled your marriage to Eileen. How dare you present yourself as her first husband! The Church has ruled. You were never married! Leave! You have no business eating a meal with my son's wife, with her parents, or with my wife and me. In the Church's eyes you have been erased. I mean it. Leave! You are an insult to our meal."
I returned to the dinner table. Eileen was on the phone explaining to her husband that I was having dinner with her family and his. Her voice was calm, informative.
The dream ended.
In the waking world, Eileen and I separated in 1981, divorced in '82, and our marriage was annulled by the Roman Catholic Church in 1984, making it possible for Eileen, a new convert to Catholicism, and her Roman Catholic fiancee to marry one another.
This all happened twenty-five years ago.
These events tore me up. I've never fully recovered, never fully healed, never really forgiven myself for being the man I am, a man Eileen could no longer endure as a husband, a man she never wanted to speak to or hear from again.
It's all here in this dream.
The first part of the dream is really a wish. I wished, naively, and that wish is still living in the subterranean world of my imagination and dreams, that I could one day be friendly with Eileen and her family.
In my dream, this happened, without strain, until Eileen's in-laws arrived.
They arrived and the secret was out. I was there. I was the first husband (or "husband") who was not spoken of, a stranger to Eileen's new married life. But, here I was, a shock to Eileen's family's guests.
As Eileen's father-in-law lectured me, hectored me about the authority of the Church, about its authority to erase history, to make a real flesh and blood marriage non-existent, my wishes died.
My dream for reconciliation was killed in my dream.
Wednesday night's dream re-enacted the annulment.
I don't know why on the night of June 17th I needed a reminder that the Roman Catholic Church erased my first marriage and all that it stood for.
I know that.
Except, the longing, shame, misery, pleasant memories, disillusion, guilt, sensations of pleasure, and memories of travel, moving, meals, movies, shopping, birthdays, holidays, old friends, flowers, cats, studies, accomplishments, music, concerts, worship, long discussions, experiments, explorations, new awareness, and poems, plays, and books cannot be annulled.
I don't think the father-in-law understood that when he kicked me out of Eileen's parents' house.