Four years ago, I perpetually felt the need to keep a tight grip around Kate. For the first few months. Actually the first year (maybe more), of dating her. This came up again and again in our early fights. And again and again in marriage therapy. And it hadn’t occurred to me, until now, that this attachment disorder or fear may have has much to do with alcoholism as the death of my mom. I always put my mom as the root of all my trauma. But I began daily drinking well before my mom died. Overtime, this heavy consumption must constitute a kind of trauma. It is abuse to body and mind. Anyway.

Nightmares last night. One after the other. From imaginary to real. I woke myself up. Fell back into another horror.

I’ve never taken Freudian dream interpretation seriously. But then again, I’ve never studied the science of archetypes and symbols with seriousness.

There were many agitating dreams last night. But I remember two.

In the first one, my mom was still alive. We were visiting her parents in Virginia. They live near the beach. We just got back from a morning frolicking in the tide. My dad shows up, unexpectedly. You know how dreams sometimes don’t present things explicitly? But they’re nonetheless obvious and palpable? From the feel, my parents were divorced and my dad wasn’t supposed to be in Virginia with me, my mom, my sisters, and my grandparents. He kind of just showed up. In reality, my parents stayed married for the length of my mom’s life. But in the dream, they were divorced, and my dad showed up, encroaching on my mom’s kid time and our time with mom and he asked if we wanted to go back to the ocean that night. His nose was white with zinc sun block and he wore a huge sombrero-type hat. The dream details were on point. I don’t think the dream allowed me speech. Either that or I was speechless. Torn between not wanting to offend my dad and be like WTF are you doing here man, don’t you know better. And not wanting to bail on my mom and grandparents and hurt their feelings. Felt like a lose lose.

The second dream was actually multiple dreams that I vaguely remember that fit the same basic fear. The fear of moving back to Minnesota. The fear of never having just-us family dinners. I remember one dream scene where Kate and I woke up in bed and Ellie was gone. I didn't notice at first because I tried to initiate sex. But then I realized the little peanut wasn’t in the bed between us like she always is. And I panicked. Kate said the baby was being formula-fed from a bottle by her sister. I turned around (dream house architecture doesn’t obey reality’s limits) and Kate’s sister was their bottle feeding the baby. This has been a reoccurring source of tension for the last seven months—family centered phobia of others holding the baby. And I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of it and unwind it. Make it nice and neat. But Kate and Ellie and me are moving back to Minnesota in a few months and I have this deep fear (yes admittedly irrational), that moving back to the place that’s teeming with family will be overwhelming and suffocating and will disintegrate my role as father and primary caregiver, primary influencer, best friend.

I fear others interfering with my role as father. I have a preference to be an actively-involved father. Is fear the anticipated loss of our preferred reality? Is fear the anticipated loss of control?

Yesterday at 9am, one of my college English students told me she had an epiphany recently. Said we’re all just animals on this rock in the middle of the universe. She said it’s the absurd joke of existence. How we take ourselves so seriously….

Her voice is ringing in my ears….

Does my first dream inform the other? Are the dreams trying to work together to speak to me? Is the first dream a warning? Foreshadowing my future, instead of my parents’ past? Am I my lurking, helicopter father? Will Kate and I get divorced if the fear cancer from dream two continues to metastasize?

The student with the “we’re just on a spinning rock in outer space” realization gained her perspective from psilocybin mushrooms. Is that what I need? A dose of perspective? Why did I fear losing Kate so much when we first met? Why do I fear losing Ellie so much now? Is it my past alcoholism? The death of my mom? Both? Neither?

>>>>>>>A POST-IT NOTE FOR THE READER: I'm coming to the conclusion that everyone you meet, or bump into, or sit next to, or randomly think of while boiling 6:05AM-water for coffee ....all these people need you. Not like you met them for a divine purpose, but like we ALL need each other, we ALL need as much wind in our sails as the spinning globe can muster. This is all connected. You know what I mean. Hopefully The Alt Dad Diary posts nudge you in a beneficial way. If so, nudge me back. You can support me and my diary project and what it means to tell the naked truth in a long-form format. Check out patreon.com/altdaddiary to pick a monthly supporter amount. EVEN $1 IS A DAMN NICE NUDGE.