Dear Amy: Many years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I dated a guy and fell in love. He broke up with me very abruptly and I was extremely broken-hearted.
Because of the abruptness of the breakup, how happy I was when I was with him, and some hints he made afterwards about regretting his actions, for years I felt like we had unfinished business. I never understood what happened.
However, the rational part of my brain told me that actions speak louder than words — he broke up with me and he never made any real attempt to initiate a reconciliation. It wasn’t meant to be. We moved to different cities, I eventually met and fell in love with my now-husband, and, for over a decade, my ex has not been in my life at all. No texting, no following on social media, no mutual friends … nothing.
My problem? Every six months or so, he appears in my dreams.
There are usually powerful feelings of love and longing in these dreams, and I wake up feeling sad and wistful. I love my husband and have a pretty great life, so I don’t understand why this person haunts me.
Does this happen to other people? Surely at this point, the dreams and the feelings are not really about this guy, right? How can I get rid of him for good?
— Stop Haunting My Dreams
Dear Stop Haunting: The rational side of your brain understands these long-ago events.
But now your subconscious is trying to tell you something — and it will continue until you turn the dream inside out and decode its meaning.
I suggest that you look for patterns occurring around those times when you have this dream. Is something in your waking life triggering this dream? Are moments of stress in your marriage (or other relationships) bringing this on? Write down a detailed account of the waking period preceding the dream.
Also write down a detailed description and script of the dream itself (writing is important because the act of writing helps to open your mind, prompting thoughts and memories).
My theory is that this dream is about the unrealized possibilities of youth. Your first love might represent lots of other relationships or opportunities that in your mind remain unfinished or unfulfilled. Because of the abruptness of this breakup, you might have been left blaming yourself. Let yourself off the hook. Recognizing, facing, and accepting unmet goals or unfinished relationships, and forgiving yourself for your own actions or reactions should help you to write a new ending for this dream.
Dear Amy: My dear grandma recently passed in a rather traumatic way. This has been devastating for our family (I’m an adult, by the way).
One of my best friends attended the entire funeral service, which meant a lot to me. Another best friend didn’t come at all, and expressed her sympathy via text.
My sister thinks it’s unnecessary for a friend to attend a service if they didn’t know the relative who died.
Am I old-fashioned?
Dear N: You’re not old-fashioned; you’re grieving.
Unfortunately, experiencing a loss like yours is often the primary way that any of us learn how important it is to actually “show up” for a funeral.
People are weird about funerals. Either they don’t know, don’t understand, or are extremely averse to attending a funeral — possibly because of their own negative experiences.
Your reaction is not uncommon.
After a traumatic loss, survivors can sometimes fixate on those who don’t show up, don’t go through the receiving line, don’t express their condolences in expected ways … or at all.
Your sister’s opinion is that only those who personally knew the deceased need to attend a funeral. Now that you’ve been through this, you understand that funerals are honoring the deceased but for the survivors.
Dear Amy: “Scammed” reported being scammed by someone claiming to be a representative of PayPal.
Anyone who responds to an email or phone call with someone who coaches you to buy gift cards: This is a SCAM!
No legitimate business will ever ask you to buy gift cards!
These scammers can capture credit card information and sell it to others who make purchases deducted from your accounts.
Store employees who are selling gift cards should be trained about these scams, and gently inquire about the gift card’s intended recipient.
— Once Scammed, Twice Vigilant
Dear Twice Vigilant: I really like the idea of training store employees about this increasingly common scam.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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