Marriage Of One

October 10, 2017

Car

Filed under: lifestyle,marriage — marriageofone @ 9:23 pm

I used to have a recurrent dream over the years until just a few months ago. I say dream, it was actually a nightmare – one from which I frequently awoke in panic, or at least part-woke to experience lucid semi-conscious dreaming.

The nightmare was this: me in a car alone or sometimes with one of my own children – just one of them – usually the youngest. The car has no brakes and is rolling backwards through a town on a steep hillside, down a busy street at high speed with me in the drivers seat. I can use the horn but it doesn’t have much effect. My sole resort is to ‘drive’ the car precariously around hard obstacles, other traffic, pedestrians and of course stay on the road. I’m looking always for a soft crash – a hedge or bush or verge into which I can plough the car to stop it safely without injuring myself and my passenger or causing death or injury to anyone else, and to avoid causing damage to the car or other property.

For a very long time I couldn’t understand this dream at all or why it kept recurring. Why backwards? Why the loss of any means to stop the car? Why didn’t anyone else crash into me even accidentally and stop the car? Why was there never anyone else – a responsible adult, and not a child – ever in the car?

But about a year ago the penny dropped. It was about control. My mind was playing tricks on me: the car was a metaphor for my life. The car rolling backwards without any means to stop safely and only the ability to steer was me careering through life with barely any control. The need to find a soft spot to crash was a reflection of my yearning for a means to save my life and those around me without causing any hurt or making things worse. The ineffectiveness of the horn and lack of any attention or help from bystanders suggested that I felt helpless and was not being heard or listened to. Finally, my being the only person in the car capable of driving was a manifestation of my own feelings of loneliness, but also the realisation that only I could do anything about it.

As I say I had this dream many times over a long period of time. It even sprang on me occasionally when actually reversing my car in real life.  I would sometimes push the brake just to make sure that they would still apply. But once I learnt what the dream meant – or what I think it means – there was an epiphany.

I asked myself if I needed to take control of my life so the nightmares would stop. But that was the problem wasn’t it? I was trying to control something that was pretty much uncontrollable – my life with Susan. Together Susan and I could take control of our marriage, but on my own it wouldn’t – couldn’t – work. The way to take control was by giving it up. Actually, by GIVING up. I stopped caring about control, stopped caring about my marriage, stopped caring about communication. I even stopped being too concerned about Susan’s emotional well-being. If I were in the dream, I let go of the steering wheel. I stopped pumping the break in panic.

No more mourning over missed sex nights. No more fretting over missed chat nights. No concerns about communication. No concerns about consequences. I wasn’t being listened to, and my listening to anyone else – Susan – wasn’t going to stop the runaway car. Susan hasn’t cared about the car crash of a marriage she has shaped – so worrying about finding a nice hurt-free ending is fruitless. I can’t worry about saving everyone. If we crash, we crash. And I’m alone. I get it. I feel it acutely some days but that doesn’t mean I have to be miserable or afraid. I take care of my well-being. I take care of Susan’s as well by not interacting any more deeply than I need to with her. Let her wear what she wants, cut her hair like she wishes and groom herself as well or more usually as poorly as she feels. She never cared for my opinions really so leave her to it. I never wanted to control her – just for her to show some interest in me and what I liked her to do/wear. But that doesn’t matter.

I also realised that she appears to be depressed. I spoke to a GP about it. He said unless she comes forward herself there is nothing that we can do about getting her properly diagnosed. Maybe I’m wrong. Funnily enough she seems to be more content since I stopped trying to ‘mend’ our marriage. But then maybe it just seems that way because I spend so little time with her, and even less time really talking with her.  I guess she wins a little too because her main difficulty with guilt has gone too; she no longer has to confront her feelings or mine.

I now walk on eggshells with her – not because I’m afraid she’ll snap, but because I remind myself that she is emotionally fragile and I am stronger. I let her get away with whatever she wants – it’s just not worth the trouble. If I feel my temper rise I remind myself that she is not responsible for her behaviour in the way a mature adult might be.

I take back control by giving up even the expectation of control. And just like that, the nightmares have stopped.

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