“Putting Myself First” – Another Episode of ‘Driving in Cars’
Driving a car can be a powerful symbol in the Unconscious of people who live in our culture. Many of us drive automobiles, and many of us have associations with the act of driving. I have written before about the dreams of two of my Clients whose driving dreams revealed key issues in their therapy. Now here is Ginny’s version.
Having grown up in a stressed family where, from a young age, she had duties far above those usually assigned to a child, Ginny had grown accustomed to being “essential” to others. She cleaned the house, did the laundry, and took care of her younger sister, protecting her from their father’s verbal abuse. She took care of her father when he was drunk and became her mother’s mainstay. From family of origin stress, Ginny inherited the tendency to consider herself responsible for every issue that might beset her own husband and her daughter. During her daughter’s addiction and the illnesses of many family members, Ginny felt overwhelmed and became depressed. Here is her dream:
I am trying to go to a doctor’s appointment, but I go the wrong way and get to my sister’s house. My car won’t start up again. My sister says I can use her car, and her friend, Mary Ann, insists on going with me. Mary Ann is the most dysfunctional person I know, both emotionally and physically. She has every problem in the world. The car I am driving breaks down, but I take my sister’s bike. I take the bike to go to my appointment, but the bike’s tire breaks. A bike shop fixes it, but the bike is then impounded. I can’t go to the doctor.
Ginny and I discussed the dream, and Ginny came to the realization that the trip to the doctor represented her own healing journey which she is not able to go on because of the cars, the bike, and the impounding of the bike. She just can’t seem to get there. Complicating the journey is Mary Ann, representing the many issues of other people that keep Ginny from being centered in her own life. A constant challenge for Ginny has always been, in her own words, “putting myself first.”
As a result of this revealing dream, Ginny was able to begin work on that most difficult of all therapeutic tasks: learning how to protect and value the self. After all, if anything happens to your “self”, how helpful can you be to the people you love? If you have a mental or physical breakdown, what then? Putting oneself first does not mean ignoring others. It means setting aside time for the care and nurturance of the person who is important to so many people.