The Words I Dream

My life seems ever marred by words spoken long ago. I wonder sometimes at their power.

They were harsh words,

cutting words,

abusive words,

spoken often,

spoken with hurtful intent.

They succeeded.

It’s been more than half my lifetime since I heard these words. There has been genuine forgiveness. There has been reconciliation. Time has healed the wounds. Yet I bear the scars.

By day, the words have no lasting effect. They rarely come to mind. They do not rule over me.

But sometimes when night falls and sleep brings bad dreams, these words are my nightmare. I am powerless to stop them from invading my unconscious mind and bringing to the surface all the feelings they once induced.

Except now the perpetrator is my husband. The one who has never spoken hurtful words to me. Never. The one who speaks love over me. The one who’s words are filled with tenderness, comfort, and courage.

But not in my dreams. There he speaks words that astonish me in their sharpness. Like daggers of bitterness they pierce me to the bone. I become speechless. I cannot fathom what I did to deserve this verbal assault from the man I love. My heart pounds hard in my chest. A lump rises in my throat. My mind races.


I wake.

Lying next to me, still breathing deeply in sleep, is the man who just moments before hurled insult upon insult at me. I breathe a sigh of relief and slowly shake off the feelings that cling from the imaginary. My conscious mind knows it was simply a dream. Yet it takes time for my emotions to catch up with reality.

I’m learning to accept it.

I’ve come to understand something about my self through these recurring dreams. While I can be completely secure in my husband’s love and never worry that he will treat me harshly or unlovingly, my subconscious mind plays out my greatest fear in my dreams.

Such is the power of words harshly spoken.


Be careful of the words you speak.

In hope,

This story of words is linked with Ann Voskamp and Holley Gerth
and their series of letters about words.
About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.