Once I had a dream that was so vivid and realistic that I never forgot it. In the dream, I was married to Wonder Woman. Now keep in mind that in the dream I was still me and if there is a polar opposite of Steve Trevor, I’m it. I’m a 5′ 5″ English, relatively heterosexual woman, of average build. The pairing wasn’t great, but within the dream-logic it made sense. It was a fairly long dream and I got to experience quite a little chunk of our lives together, day in and day out, just living and working together as couples do.
In the dream, I had the job that I actually had at the time, (designing websites for tv shows at a small online ad agency), and Wonder Woman’s job was basically just being Wonder Woman; Saving lives, fighting crime, etc. One day I came home, thrilled about some new job that we had. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about all the new things that I was learning in my job and the new colleagues that I’d met. She listened to me rattle on enthusiastically while she sat there on the couch wearing her white robes (this was what she wore around the house) with her arms crossed (I’d say she was slumped, but she’s Wonder Woman and she has perfect posture, so it was more of a resigned sitting vibe that she was giving off rather than a physical slouch.) At some point in the conversation she rounded on me and barked “How dare you go on and on about your creative work when you KNOW that I can’t get a cool career myself. You are SO insensitive.”
I was shocked.
I wanted my wife to be happy, and couldn’t understand why she didn’t just make a change to her life and get a job if that is what she wanted. “What are you talking about? You can get a job if you want, I’m not stopping you. You are incredible, I mean… You’re Wonder Woman! You can do whatever job you want! I’m not stopping you.”
This didn’t go down well at all.
“How dare you! You KNOW that I have to fight crime. You know that I’m an Amazon warrior. Do you think I can afford to take 3 years off to get retrained and then work for 8 hours or more a day? I have to fight crime. I have to be Wonder Woman. I don’t have a choice like you do. If you loved me, you’d know that my options are limited and you wouldn’t boast about how much you LOVE your job. You just boast about your work to make me feel bad about myself.”
This was even more shocking to me. “How can you be dissatisfied with your work?! You’re Wonder Woman? You’re an Amazon princess, an envoy from an ancient warrior race, a god of sorts. Why would you feel bad about that in comparison to my shitty job? I don’t understand.”
She fired back ruefully. “If you loved me, you’d understand. You shouldn’t be so happy about your own work. It isn’t fair.”
This argument went back and forth again and again. Finally one afternoon, we met up in the city, on the balcony of some great, concrete skyscraper looking out across the city. It was so beautiful in the early evening sunlight, and I gazed at Wonder Woman, majestic and awe-inspiring. For once she was wearing her golden battle armor, she stood erect and proud. More than ever I knew that she was a goddess, more powerful and beautiful than anyone I had ever met. As I stood there with her, I realized that I was afraid to tell her about my day at work in case I inadvertently triggered another argument because of her bizaare dissatisfaction with her own life. In that moment I understood that it didn’t matter how perfect and incredible she truly was if she couldn’t see that. If she imagined that my success was a limit to her happiness, then she would always resent me. I had to get away. It broke my heart, but I couldn’t help her.
Wonder Woman’s feelings made no sense to me. She resented my creative work, but all I did was choose a career that fit with the skills that I was born to. Like all kids, I wanted to be a ballet dancer, an astronaut, or a superhero. But I wasn’t born with those talents and I certainly wasn’t born with the kind of work ethic they require. A slightly creative career was something I chose because it fit to my skill set. Similarly, Wonder Woman was born (or rather modelled from clay) and raised to be a warrior princess. She might have wanted to have an office job, have a tedious career that involved spending every Monday in tedious meetings about budgets and how many people take sick days, but her natural talents make her a perfect fit for the career of being Wonder Woman, so why wouldn’t she be able to appreciate the miracle of that.
I knew without a doubt that her job was so wonderful that she was in no position to complain. I could not fathom how or why she was trying to make me denigrate myself to bolster her completely warped sense of self, instead of amending her own perception of her work. Why couldn’t she see that she could be absolutely happy being herself? It was a real eye-opener to me, understanding that even the most wonderful woman in the world would make a terrible partner if she wasn’t able to appreciate her own value.
When I woke up, I felt a tremendous sense of relief that I am not married to Wonder Woman. I don’t know why she isn’t happy just to be herself, but somehow it just doesn’t work for her and that’s a damn tragedy. I wish I could help, but at the end of the day, as much as I love her and appreciate her presence in my life, I can’t keep taking responsibility for her happiness. Like all of us, she needs to spend some time finding herself and then maybe we can talk about seeing each other more often.