In my dream I awoke in bed next to another man. To be completely accurate, it was not me - Benjamin Wood - that was in bed with another man, but the persona operating as the protagonist of that particular dream. To avoid confusion, I will refer to this persona as Jim.
In 23 years of dreaming my brain has constructed no small number of characters, many of whose viewpoints I have operated under while navigating the dreamworld. I have been both human and animal, male and female, land-based and aquarian, old and young. Once even I transformed mid dream from human male to large spider, and yet another time I watched as a young boy in terror as my mother was mauled to death by a lion in the master bedroom of my home in huntsville. Why there was a feral lion in such a cold climate and how it got into the house I will never know.
The fact that on this particular night I was operating as Jim is not altogether startling, even with the apparent realization that Jim is a homosexual. As a matter of fact, Jim was not actually gay, but I'll get to that later.
Besides the apparent clash with my innate homophobia, this dream has stood out in particular memory for me. When I - or rather, Jim - awoke in bed next to another man (a moment we will refer to as "Time X" for reasons that will present themselves soon) the dream narrative began only Jim, the persona, came equipped with a full breadth of developed emotional memories.
Jim had grappled for years with his sexual orientation, torn in a conflict between what he thought he felt and what he believed to be natural. Shortly before Time X - a matter of weeks, maybe even days - Jim announced his homosexuality to his friends and family amidst a wave of contrasting emotions - confusion, uncertainty, betrayal - and thereafter moved in with his partner, a man of comparable age who resembled Patrick Jane from The Mentalist only not as distinguished and with a certain unimpressive air stereotypichally common for gay men.
Now I - Benjamin Wood - became aware of this back-story not by way of a typical montage of scenes. Theses events did not play themselves out in sequence before my minds eye but rather I - or Jim - was emotionally aware that all of this had transpired prior to Time X even though I - Benjamin Wood - only entered Jim's world at Time X, or the moment he awoke in bed with another man.
Confusing? You have no idea.
Now, what happened next was particularly interesting. Jim was the protagonist persona of my dream even though I - Benjamin Wood - am 100 % heterosexual and quite frankly, creeped out by homosexuality (in a respectful way, really).
The comic tragedy in the story of this dream is that at Time X when Jim awoke he realized...he wasn't gay. Upon awakening next to another man, I - Jim - was so repulsed that in my head - Jim's head - I thought "oh no, I was wrong. I'm really not gay."
Obviously, this is completely outlandish; but in a dream, everything seems fine until you wake up.
Now, in a similar way that I - Benjamin Wood - was aware of the events prior to Time X without experiencing them in any way, I proceeded to take part in an intense emotional struggle where I - Jim - battled an impending sense of hopelessness as my world crumbled around me. Jim was now going to have to go back to his family and say "just kidding, I'm straight." What would they think? How could they accept me now after putting them through this? Will they think it was all some terrible charade? AM I really straight?
It was amazing, everything I've told you transpired in the space of seconds upon awakening in bed next to another man. Fascinating.
Upon Jim's awakening, his partner lying next to him subsequently awoke. Knowing nothing of Jim's psycho-emotional 180 he began being affectionate, attempting to spoon his partner, an action that Jim - I - found so physically and emotionally unbearable that he could no longer remain in bed. His partner, aghast at the sudden stand-offish attitude of his once loving partner was absolutely crushed at the seemingly indifferent treatment and Jim - I - remained in a cataclysmic nauseating shock.
I soon after awoke, thinking "man, that's the weirdest dream I ever had."
This was a couple of weeks ago. I've been thinking about it lately due to the fact that I'm currently reading Valis by Phillip K. Dick (without a doubt the strangest book I've ever read) which deals heavily with mental processes and insanity (among MANY other things) as well as my blissful anticipation for the film Inception which deals with dream worlds and subconscious security.
I have often felt pain in my dreams but this is the only time I can remember where I felt legitimate emotional anguish. What's stranger, I felt emotional pain that I - Benjamin Wood - have never experienced in real life. My mind crafted an individual to such detail that without playing the scenes of his life I was emotionally and mentally aware of the pain, torment, and confusion that he had gone through, all in a fleeting matter of seconds while I - Benjamin Wood - struggled so violently with my homophobia that undoubtedly my own personality broke through and merged itself with Jim's.
Beyond that even is what my mind was able to accomplish, and is able to accomplish every night. Jim awoke in a bed with light colored bedding, his partner had a fully distinguishable face, the room they were in was an apartment of some kind and was not on ground level because outside the windows beyond the bed Jim was level with the middle floors of surrounding skyscrapers, hence this apartment was also located in a city of moderate size. The walls were a kind of cream color and based on my vantage point I couldn't quite see the carpet but I'm sure if I had looked down it would have been very detailed. The fact that the mind can create such a seemingly complete architectural and atmospheric structure, place fabricated characters inside of it, and then pass through a complex narrative with emotional arks and plot development all while I - Benjamin Wood - lie down with my eyes closed on my twin bed in logan...
The more I think about it, the more fascinating it all is.