I just read John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” and wonder if it influenced this morning’s dream. On the surface, there is no resemblance to the story, but I awoke with a vaguely uneasy sense about the dream that reminded me of the story’s mood.
There was not much action or plot. I was a young woman who was lame, perhaps from polio. My left hand appeared to be affected as well; without warning it would convulse into a curled claw painful and ugly to behold.
I dined out and went to the theatre, and was attended by an older man who was unfailingly solicitous. He did not go with me, but would appear at my side after dinner or the performance had begun. He was never more or less than kind, and although I found his attentions somewhat strange and disturbing because I did not know what motivated them, still I looked for and enjoyed them, and feared their loss.
My half-awake conscious mind began to influence my dreaming one. It accepted my youth and uncharacteristic active social life, but it questioned the disabilities that were the apparent cause of the man’s seeming fondness for me. I did not remember having polio, nor becoming lame from it. As for my hand, I knew I have signs of arthritis in both, but that did not explain why it would be normal at times and contorted at others.
I felt I must be a fraud, but did not remember becoming one intentionally. I was terrified that I was and that the man would find out and have nothing to do with me. I stopped going out. I waited and waited for this man I didn’t even know or understand, and even mistrusted, but he never appeared, and this made me sad. At the end, I think I was whole again, except for the arthritis that I actually have.
It occurs to me that I was lame only as long as I saw him and that that was his hold over me. When I stopped going out, it broke his hold and cured my infirmities. Yet I found myself longing to be infirm and cared about rather than whole and lonely.
That dynamic surely explains many, many controlling relationships.