How To Survive Your Dream Come True

The worst thing isn’t failing to attain your dream-come-true. The worst thing is surviving it. It takes a special survival skill-set to survive your dream-come-true, one you did not cultivate while struggling to attain it. Everything you learned before is useless. The other side of your dream-come-true is the land of uncertainty. That which brought you this far will become a useless burden on the other side.

Some people will die trying, or die having never tried. Some people will spend their lives with yearning as their constant companion, shadowing their days and curling up around their feet at night like a familiar cat. Some people will imagine they could have been a contender; they might have been a has-been had they bothered. We’re not talking about those people. We’re talking about you – and me. If you’re on the other side of your own dream-come-true, you’re already in the world of the unknown. Welcome.

There are others with us here. One built a creative business from the ground up, and walked away after it went public. Another built a family with a partner who betrayed and abandoned them. Someone else spent years refining an athlete’s body and now watches the inevitable decay of human flesh with dread. This one got tenure and academic acclaim and found it hollow without an accompanying personal conviction, that one amassed a fortune and became a philanthropic legend, but cannot sleep at night for the weight of the world and its want. Each of us pursued a dream and an ideal, and attained it at great cost – and found we could not hold it, for either it was sand, or the hands that held it faltered.

In my case I dreamed to live in a spiritual community, to have an open, hospitable home where everyone was welcome, to teach and to learn, to build and support community with a partner, a husband, who shared my ideals and values. I attained that dream for 9 months – the number of months it takes to create a full grown healthy newborn baby. I gestated and gave birth to nothing – to wind, in fact. My spiritual partner, my husband, was found to be a public letch and pariah, was exposed as a sexual predator during a 6-week trip I took alone to California to meet my newborn twin grandsons. I left our home in October a happily married new bride, and returned in late November to become, within a week, a runaway, fleeing a hapless husband under fire for public perversion, humiliated and hell-bent on divorce.  

I lost everything in order to preserve my own integrity and sense of self, which after all was more important than keeping my dream-come-true. My home in a religious community, my spiritual leader husband, my beautiful house, my well-known open-door hospitality and heavy-laden table, my new health food business, my place in our congregation as the wife of the worship leader.  My colorful scarves, my flowing dresses, my lovely rings. I lost it all because I couldn’t find a way to respect myself for staying with a man I had loved and whom I now loathed. My dream-come-true had turned into a nightmare.

So here are some tips for surviving your own dream-come-true when you wake up and find out it’s a nightmare:

1 ) Be thankful you got to live your dream at all. So many don’t. Be thankful that you even had a heart with which to have a dream, and that you had a soul with which to feed your heart to pursue your dream. You are not bad because your dream turned bad.

2) Be conscious and aware of exactly when and how your dream turned into a nightmare. When did you realize what you thought was the ultimate really wasn’t what you wanted to be doing for the rest of your life at all? What was the magic moment, the tipping point when the scales fell from your eyes? Find that moment and hold it dear, enshrine it. It is your truth. It is a glimpse into a part of your own soul where it doesn’t get more real.

3 ) Give yourself permission to grieve and don’t allow anyone to put a timer on your process. Everyone takes a different amount of time to process grief, and having expectations of yourself – or allowing the expectations of others affect your own – is not conducive to healing.

4 ) Remember what is important to you. What are your bottom line non-negotiables? What MUST you have in order to look yourself in the face in the mirror every morning? Self-respect? Safety and sovereignty? Creative expression? A peaceful domestic environment? Whatever they are for you, hold on to these and don’t allow anyone or anything to take them from you. They are your jewels.

5 ) Your friends and loved ones are your resources. Your friends, your network, your support system- you have them, they have your back. They want to be there for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for support, help, comfort, feedback. People will surprise you with their goodness and generosity if you’ll only let them.

We can’t live without our dreams, but we can’t live in them either. Surviving our own dream-come-true means living with uncertainty because a new dream has not taken the place of the old one yet – and in fact, our dreaming function may well be wounded or disabled in some way, perhaps even from shock, and we are unable to conceive of ever dreaming a dream again – let alone having the strength to make it happen.  For those who have dreamed and manifested our dream, this might be the bitterest pill of all – the uncertainty as to whether or not another dream might come. The uncertainty of having to find something else to care about, the challenge to find meaning and significance outside of the dreams we’ve sold ourselves and told ourselves are ours.

What happens then, dear fellow dreamers, is that time and the deflation of uncertainty creates space which was not there before. You don’t see it at first, because it’s shrouded in the thick fog of doubt and disbelief. You don’t recognize it because it doesn’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before. Eventually it begins to take shape and the shape becomes your shape, the face becomes your face, and one day when you weren’t even looking – there you are again. You again – only more so. More of your essence on the outside, less of the frosting, filling and non-nutritive bits on the inside. A dreamer of dreams who knows the secrets of manifesting as well as the sober truths of releasing realities we’ve made which no longer suits who we are. You’ve got this. Even if you don’t quite have it yet – you will. Believe in your own uncertainty and believe in your own empty spaces and places. Love your gaps and gaping holes, your vacant lot-sized loneliness, your flickering streetlight of a broken heart. Each one of these gifts are inscribed with your name, and they will make you strong.

Send this to a friend