What could my recurring dream mean?

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DEAR AMY: I have been married for five years. We have two beautiful boys. Although we have had typical ups and downs, we are happy.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune)

In high school, I had a serious boyfriend for three years. It was a very emotional and very unhealthy relationship for me.

However, for a year and a half, I have been dreaming every night of this high school boyfriend!

Some dreams are a little sizzling, but most are like extracts from an unlived life. We do daily chores at home, spend time with family, go out with friends.

The kick is, I’m so happy in these dreams! My rational mind knows that there were few positive aspects of this relationship more than ten years ago, but what gives? A dream or two is one thing, but 18 months of them !?

Confused dreamer

DEAR DREAMER: Our subconscious sometimes emerges during dreams to help us solve the problems of our waking lives. I suggest that you start writing your dreams every day to find emerging patterns that you can interpret. The act of writing will help you remember the specifics of your dream landscape.

My own interpretation is that you might feel guilty about staying in such an unhealthy relationship for so long. Rewriting the old script (exploring “unlived life”) could be the way your mind tries to instill an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness towards your young self. I hope you follow this prompt.

The fact that you have these dreams every night without resolution is worrying. A psychologist could help you turn the corner and dream differently.

DEAR AMY: Four years ago, I had a serious work accident and had to have an operation. It was a risky procedure and there was a good chance that I could never walk again. I was terrified.

Just before my operation, my wife left – which was difficult in itself, but she also abandoned her four children. Three of them were my stepchildren (they were his own biologically).

The two years after his departure were extremely difficult because three of our four children stayed with me and the fourth moved in with their biological father. My operation went very well. It took a while, but I can still walk.

My biggest concern has always been the children. My ex-wife ignores them all. She never helped support them.

They are so angry with her and I don’t want them to carry this anger and resentment, because that is how I have been all my life. I want them to be happy.

I give them all the love I have, but the abandonment of their mother was devastating for all. I don’t care how much pain it caused me personally, but my kids want their mom.

It tears me that she only calls them every four or five weeks and sees them only once or twice a year.

I’m just a broken old man who could be in dire need of advice.

Broken Heart

DEAR BROKEN: In order for you to help your children through this separation, it is essential that you find ways to become less broken. Your physical recovery is a triumph. Now you must continue to develop and demonstrate your emotional resilience.

From your story, it seems that the behavior of your ex has become a decisive experience for you. But it’s not. What you are doing now – being a constant parent during this storm – is what defines you!

You have to show your children that life goes on and that you – and them – have some control over what will happen next. I hope you will build a legacy of positive and hopeful experiences that will become the next defining chapters. Build friendships with other adults. Other successful single parents (fathers and mothers) will help you show the way.

You could also explore the possibility of legally adopting your stepchildren, so that they always know that you belong together. Changing your legal status from stepfather to “dad” could help you live together as a family.

DEAR AMY: “Sheltering in Wisconsin” expressed concern about the coronavirus, and in your response, you advised him to “wipe” the common handles with a disinfectant.

Amy, these disinfectant wipes may not be as useful as you think to contain the virus.

Concerned

DEAR CONCERNED: If I was concerned about transmission from a door handle, I would open the door using the wipe itself, to avoid direct contact.

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