My husband talks in his sleep.
I may not get a lot of sleep some nights, but I always get entertained.
Like the night when we happened to both be lying on our sides, turned toward each other. He opened his eyes, gazed at me intently, and said, “You look like . . .”
As I was thinking Now what? he completed his sentence. “. . . a turtle.”
I look like a turtle?
Squinting and staring at me more intensely, he asked, “How’d you do that?”
“You’re asleep,” I told him.
“I am not.”
“I am not!”
“Does it make sense that I would turn into a turtle?”
“I don’t know how you did it,” he said. Angry, he flipped onto his other side. “Don’t blame me if you can’t change back!”
Over the years, I’ve discovered that trying to reason with my husband when he’s in this state of mind is totally ineffective. The way he sees it, I’m telling him things counter to his perspective. So all I can do is work within his different reality.
For example, he used to have a recurring dream I call “The Search for the Elusive ‘It’.” He would wake me up in the middle of the night and ask, “What did you do with it?”
“You know what it is.”
Trying to pin him down, I’d ask, “What does ‘it’ look like?”
He was not deterred. “You know what it looks like.”
“What color is ‘it’?”
“You know what color it is. What did you do with it?”
After several nocturnal episodes of this, I finally cried out of frustration, “Fine! I took it, and I’m not giving it back!”
“I knew it!” he crowed.
But somehow that stopped the recurring dream, because, I suppose, I’d answered the question to his satisfaction within the reality he was then experiencing.
Sometimes I think we all live in a different reality, just like my husband does when he’s talking in his sleep. We obviously don’t see God as He truly is. We don’t see all the heinousness of our sins. We don’t see even ourselves as we actually are. This idea seems verified by St. Paul: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
The problem, of course, is that we often live as though this existence here on earth is the only true reality. What will it be like when we’re released from Plato’s cave, when the veil is lifted, when we “wake up” to things as they actually are?
I’ll probably discover that my image of God is infinitely farther off than my husband mistaking me for a turtle. I’ll also probably discover that what I am of myself is nothing but sin and misery. Any goodness in me has been placed there by God.
Until then I’ll have to live in this reality, one in which my husband grabbed me and pulled me into a corner of the room because he dreamed the bed was sinking into quicksand.
It’s nice to have a husband who wanted to save my life.
Even if he thinks I look like a turtle.