I love my husband but we ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT drive in the car together. I often have nightmares that I’m riding in the backseat of a car that is out of control. I try and try to reach the steering wheel from the backseat to gain control but I never can reach. When my husband drives, he gets upset at other drivers and often drives defensively which makes me very anxious and scared. Because of the dreams and my being triggered by his driving, we rarely ride together. I drive also, but when I drive he gets upset that I’m not driving fast enough, aggressive enough, etc. This is usually the only time we ever have issues. I’d like to be able to go on trips with my husband and actually enjoy the ride. How do I resolve these frightening dreams? AND can my husband and I ever get to a place where we aren’t driving each other mad???
Want to Enjoy the Ride
Dear Want to Enjoy the Ride,
Thank you for sharing your experience. We are sure that many can relate to the feeling of being driven mad by their partner. Car rides can feel warm and comforting like a mother’s womb…or serve as an incubator for turmoil and fear. What you are sharing sounds pervasive and trauma provoking. How long have the dreams been going on? Were they happening prior to meeting your husband or only after? The famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, considered dreams to be the “royal road to the unconscious as it is in dreams that the ego's defenses are lowered so that some of the repressed material comes through to awareness, albeit in distorted form.”
Dreams can perform important functions for the unconscious mind to resolve hidden fears and also to work through issues. Clearly, the theme of loss of control comes up. But what else could your dreams be telling you? You are reaching for the steering wheel in your dream to no avail. What have you reached for in your life that is unavailable to you? You are expressing that you are reaching for connection with your husband. Could there be more? In his book “The Light in the Heart,” Roy T. Bennett wrote, “Don't be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” Contact a trusted mental health professional in your area for individual and/or couples support. You can be assisted in processing the connection between your dreams, your car rides with your husband, and fear and anxiety resulting from both! Wishing you a smooth ride from this point forward!!
My 82-year-old father passed away two weeks ago. I took some time off right after his death but then went back to work. All in all, I’m doing pretty well but I’m having some guilt around not wanting to travel out of state to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Traditionally, all the family would go to my father’s house for the holiday. Now that he won’t be there, I’m considering taking the time off to stay home. Before he died, I travelled frequently to be with him and to help out with his care. As a result, I feel like I have been going and going non-stop and have been unable to catch a breath. I know my family will be disappointed with me if I don’t come for the holiday this year, but I’m tired! Should I stay or should I go? How do I know whether or not I’m making the best decision?
Stay or Go
Dear Stay or Go,
We are very sorry to hear about your loss—and we extend to you our sincere condolences. You mentioned that your family will feel let down if you don’t go; however, have you considered that if you do go, you will be letting yourself down? Author, poet, and motivational speaker Stephanie Lahart writes, “Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish…Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.” In this time of grief, it is so important that you attend to yourself well and take care of your needs as part of your grief and healing process. We encourage you to do what truly feels right for you—and to trust that those who love you will understand and support you in honoring yourself. We wish you peace and comfort in your healing journey.
Pegge Riley, LPC and Angela Wacht, LPC are Counselors and Directors of Sage Center: Counseling, Consulting, and Creative Community Wellness. They are here to provide suggestions and guidance about everyday life. To submit a question or concern to Sage Advice go to www.SageCenterAtlanta.com and click on the Sage Advice tab. The advice in this column is general and is not intended as actual counseling for specific issues or concerns. If you need to address more specific issues requiring more intensive focus, please contact Sage Center at 404-419-6221 or visit our website at www.SageCenterAtlanta.com