Marinelle, Take the Wheel

I’m in the car. Most of the time, it’s with my family. Something always ends up happening, and all of a sudden, we’re in an unsafe situation. Someone else needs to take control of the car. I have to take control of the car. I need to. I can do it. I have to act now before it’s too late.

“I can drive, I can do it,” I say to my family. I can feel it in my body that I have something to prove, this is my moment of truth. I can feel my heart pounding as I reach over.

I take the wheel. I take control of the car and steer us back to safety. The adrenaline is rushing through my body, what a thrill. I knew I could do it! I grip the wheel perfectly on 10 and 2. But how am I driving right now? I haven’t drove in so long? I’m thinking these thoughts as I drive along.

“I told you I could drive,” I say over my shoulder to my shaken up family with a smile. I have that ‘I told you so’ tone in my voice.

All of a sudden, I’m in a panic. I turn the wheel left, then right, then left again. I’m freaking out, my heart is racing, I can’t control the car anymore. At this point I’m crying and screaming. I’m dodging cars, but it’s as if our car has a mind of it’s own. The cause for the sudden shift is always unknown. Without fail, I go from driving perfectly to forgetting everything and losing control. At the climax of my fear and terror, I wake up.

This is a reoccurring dream that I’ve had for years…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been terrified of driving. This phobia stems from my mom’s fear of being behind the wheel. Growing up, my mom expressed her lack of confidence behind the wheel, how it gives her anxiety, and how she refuses to drive unless she absolutely has to. Unknowingly, she planted the seed of fear of driving in my sisters and I’s heads.

What about driving freaks me out? Knowing that I am in control of a vehicle, and just 1 wrong move on my end can result in someone else’s demise. Also, the fact that I can be an alert driver, do all things right by the book, and be safe, but can still be in an unsafe situation due to the fact that I can’t control anyone else’s driving, terrifies me. Knowing that I can be the reason why someone loses their life gives me anxiety. Yeah, pretty dark. But that’s where my mind goes.

When I turned 18, I figured I had to get over my fear of driving. I felt like everyone around me was driving, had a license, or was working towards one. I had FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, and felt like I wasn’t making the moves I should be making at my age. So, I studied to take my permit test. Of course I wanted to pass the permit test on the first try. And I did. I was happy, but then that happiness and relief turned to dread.

I kind’ve lagged on starting to drive after receiving my permit. Until my dad brought to my attention that the permit is only good for a year, and within that year I would have to take the driving test or my permit would expire and I would have to take the test all over again. And I was not about to stand in that DMV line again. So, I mentally prepared myself to take the wheel, literally.

It was so long ago that at first, I didn’t even remember who I drove with first, my dad or a driving instructor? And then I remembered it was an instructor because my dad refused to get in a car with me until I had some type of prior lessons. I got the number of my friend’s driving instructor and booked an appointment.

I remember my driver pulling up to Skyline college where the 121 bus stop is. I did not want to drive. But I knew that I would’ve taken my permit for nothing if I just let it expire. And lord knows I needed all the time and practice I could get if I wanted to pass that driving test the first time. I got in the car and realized my driving instructor had peddles of his own in the passenger’s seat. It was a relief to know that he could control the car if I straight up had no idea what I was doing.

It may have been because of that “student driver” sticker on the back of the instructor’s car, or maybe pure luck, but nobody honked at me that day. My breaks were hard, I was going slower than I should’ve been, and don’t even get me started on switching lanes. It was all a blurr. But I did what I had to do in that 1 hour session. My hands were sweaty, I hung on to the wheel for dear life, I was sweaty and anxious, and I wondered how people drive with music on!

After a couple of lessons with the instructor, my dad was finally confident to get in a car with me. He let me drive to school, to work, on the freeway, in neighborhoods, and around the area where my driving test was going to be. I was pretty good at it, but I was stiff and rigid. Everything had to be a particular way when I drove – no music, had to have certain shoes on, windows up even though I was sweating, hair in a half clip so no hair got in my face. If any of those factors were off, I didn’t feel confident. With time though, I put on music, but oh so slightly above a whisper. I felt myself getting confident with driving.

You control the car, you tell it what to do,” my dad would tell me when I would freak out about driving.

I booked my driving test literally a couple days before my permit expired. I wanted to make sure I had all the practice, was prepared, and would pass. But by waiting so close to the date, I didn’t think of what would happen if I didn’t pass and had to reschedule. I didn’t think about that. I had to pass. That would be so embarrassing if I didn’t. My older sister passed the test on the first try, so if I didn’t, I wouldn’t hear the end of it from my parents.

My dad made me take my driving test in San Mateo because it was “easier” than Daly City. Which I totally believe because the roads were so much more wider! I remember asking my friends what they’re going to test me on, what questions they asked, what mistakes they made that I could avoid. As I waited in the driving line for my test, I saw a truck infront of me starting their test. They were way too close, ended up turning onto the curb, in a matter of 2 minute, they circled the block and came back. Yooooo. Now I was scared. What if I mess up like that?

My instructor came in the car. I passed all the questions and proceeded with the driving portion of the test. When I successfully made it out of the DMV lot I was relieved. Everything was going good. I felt confident and I made sure to make my motions dramatic and prolonged. It was going great until I got to a 4 way stop. This guy on foot was close to the curb and motioned for me to go. Of course, I motioned for him to cross the street. He refused and insisted I go. I knew that if I didn’t let him cross, I would fail the test. But here we were playing the game of “go! No you go! No you!” Bruh, just cross the street ūüėę. After what seemed like 1 whole minute, he finally crossed. I knew I passed.

We pulled up to the DMV and the last task was to park. I pulled in, put the car in park, and turned off the car. My instructor let me know that I passed. I was so excited! More so relieved that I didn’t have to take anything over again. I got out of the car and did what I had to do inside. When I came out, my dad was in the car. I looked at what a great job I did parking.

“Dang, I parked hella good!” I told my dad when I got inside.

“What are you talking about?” He laughed, “I had to fix it and bring it in because the butt was out.”

Womp. I was proud anyways. And that was literally the last time I drove a car. I was 19. I’m now 25. Why, you ask? Once I got my license, that meant that I would have to have insurance. My parents didn’t want the burden of a young new driver on their insurance, and I didn’t have a car to drive anyways. I was just happy that I got it out of the way and that I had a license just to say I had it.

I was less scared or driving at the end of all of this. That was until one of my best friends told me about her reading with a psychic. She started from the top of her reading, telling me what the psychic said about her love life, her future, her family. She went into detail and regurgitated everything the psycic told her.

“But then she told me one of my friends is going to get into a car accident with an older male,” my friend said. We went silent on the phone.

“Wait, why do I feel like I’m that friend….” I said.

“Dude, I thought the same thing!”

I was highly convinced that that “friend” was me. I was scared that I would be driving with my dad and I would mess up and get us into a car accident. I refused to drive, all the fear came back again. I was not going to put my life or my dad’s life in danger. I was genuinely scared.

I did end up getting in a car accident with an older male. Except I wasn’t the one driving, and it wasn’t my dad. I was with my cousins, and my cousin was driving the car when a girl “eating soup” while driving rammed us from behind. Elbows flying, necks are jerking, but we were all fine.

That tripped me out for a long time. Because 1. I did get in a car accident, the older male was my cousin who was driving, and 2. I was glad that I wasn’t the driver. It made me realize that I was really out here about to never drive in my life because of what a person told my friend. Its trippy because it actually happened, but what if it didn’t? I would’ve been scared for what? So much time has passed since the last time I’ve driven. Literally 6 years. I feel like I need to relearn how to drive again.

But I’ve had those reoccurring dreams for years, even before I stared driving. For the longest time, I didn’t know how to feel because I believed I was possibly foreshadowing my own death. And for the longest that played into my fear of driving. And I thought that for a while, until I started telling people about these dreams.

I’ve had a fascination with my dreams and dreams in general. I always look for deeper meaning, and look for the lessons or signs in them. I know there’s a lot of people that think dreams are just dreams, but I’m not one of those people. I dissect my dreams and want to know the answer to why I dream of the things I dream about. Back in the day my older sister had a dream book dictionary that interpreted the different scenarios and things in your dreams. From animals, to locations, to things, feelings, etc. Everything had an underlying meaning. That book is lost now, but just this passed Christmas I bought my sisters each a dream book that went more in depth with dissecting dreams.

Control. Is what everyone says my dream is about. Feeling like I have no control of my life, not being confident in my abilities, and the list goes on. I also noticed that in the many different versions of this dream, I’m always trying to prove I can drive. Sometimes I drive successfully, and sometimes I’m a mess from the moment I lay hands on the wheel. The conclusion is always the same though, I end up losing control of the car, regardless how well I was driving.

The people inside the car vary too, but most of the time it’s always my mom, dad, and sisters. Sometimes it’ll just be my sisters, or a variety of mixing and matching those 4 family members. I always want to prove to my family that I can do it. And I guess that remains true in real life. I want to prove I can be successful, but I’m afraid to be moded and lose control and have that success turn to failure.

I thought maybe it’s just my unconscious expressing my fears in life. Driving being one of them. I feel like my dreams are shedding light on what I need confidence in, or what I need to confront head on to not be afraid anymore. This has been a dream that has haunted me for a long time. Because each time it feels so real and vivid. It bring to light my flaws and insecurities. But I got to remember that I am in control of my own life. And if these dreams are really telling me that I’m afraid to take the wheel in my own life, then I need to stop being scared. Not having control is scary. Not knowing what path you’re going on is scary. Not knowing if you’ll be successful or not is scary. I guess this is what haunts me.

Do you have reoccurring dreams? What do you think they mean?

Emotional Abuse

“Jo” has been one of my best friends since high school. We sat next to each other in every class we had together senior year, and that made us especially close. From getting yelled at in our cooking class for eating butter, being totally lost in physics class, and asking a police officer to take “gangster” pictures of us in the back seat of the police car when they came to our school- she’s been the friend that always knew what to say and always understood me. Especially when I was going through an emotional abusive relationship, she knew exactly how I felt… and that’s because she was in the same boat as me.

An emotional abusive relationship can be hidden from others very well. Unlike a physical abusive relationship that can leave scars, bruises, and in other words evidence, being emotionally abused gets you from the inside. The abuser tries to control you and uses fear and your insecurities against you. The sad thing is, “Jo” and I thought it was normal. We thought it was just fights and boyfriends were supposed to act like that. We didn’t see the signs until we were at rock bottom.

Each day it was a new problem for us. One day it was me crying, the next day it would be her. There never seemed to be a day where we were both happy. Even though we were in different situations, the verbal and emotional abuse was all the same. We knew exactly which profiles to click on to find the information we needed to get. One time she even sent me a screenshot picture of a tweet asking me to examine the granite tabletop and ask for my opinion if it was her boyfriend’s cousin’s place or not because his ex had posted the picture. It was small things like that that made us feel like we were crazy.

We were constantly feeling horrible about ourselves because they would try to keep us down to control us. Her now ex would be hanging out with other girls, and would only keep her around when it was convenient for him. He was never consistent and always felt differently towards ¬†her day to day. My ex would call me fat every chance he could get so I’d feel so ashamed of myself¬†that I’d consider myself lucky to ¬†have him. We were smart girls falling for mind games of little boys.

“I had low confidence and took his BS because I was scared to lose him,” “Jo” told me as I asked for her approval to write this blog post. For about 4 years she dealt with her ex’s inconsistency and verbal/ emotional abuse. There was a time where she had to tell one of his new girls to back off. This lead to the new girl’s family over reacting and trying to file charges on “Jo”. It was our first ever¬†Christmas party (which is now an ongoing tradition for the past 4 years) that we planned with us girls. “Jo” got a call from the police saying she had to come in for questioning. It was situations like that that made her insecure. The fear that her ex would leave her for someone else. He made her feel so low of herself, always calling her stupid and annoying, that lead her to be even more insecure. She didn’t like the way she looked and didn’t think she was attractive, so the fact that she had him by her side made her feel better. She didn’t want to lose him, even if she wasn’t being treated right.

I remember thinking to myself after a fight and trying to justify why I should continue in a relationship that made me miserable, “ok… think of 3 reasons why you love him…,” It took a while until I realized I couldn’t think of 1 reason. “Ok,” I thought again, “one thing you at least like about him… just one,” …Nothing. At that exact moment I knew I was done. Years of being put down left me with no positive thoughts of him, 3 years and I couldn’t think of one thing.

A switch flipped in our heads during the time we first started college. I thought to myself “this isn’t high school anymore, I’m over it. New school, new beginning,” and started the process of removing the one negative person that was bringing me down for 3+ years. “Jo” was doing the same, except it was her ex who was calling it quits. But regardless if she ended it or if he did, I was happy to see that my best friend was making moves to become a better her and recover. She was with him for 4+ years and in the end of it, she lost herself. We both did. We went through it together, and we got over it together.

When we talk about it now, we laugh. Though emotional abuse isn’t funny, we just like to consider ourselves lucky. We got out of it successfully and sometimes other people aren’t as fortunate.

A little over two years has passed. “Jo” and I have now found ourselves with different people who actually treat us right. School, work, and life ¬†has gotten in the way, and “Jo” and I can’t hangout as much as we used to. We used to text everyday, but now fill each other at least once a week. I never miss the opportunity to tell her that I’m so happy that she has someone that has been with her for over a year and is still all about her. He’s honest, loyal, and so respectful to her, her family, and her friends. Every time I update “Jo” on a story that happened regarding my boyfriend, whether it ¬†be story that’s funny, random, etc., she never fails to voice her opinion on how she loves the way he treats me and how he’s a good guy. He’s gained the respect of my friends- the ones that really knew what I was going through- and my girls are not easily impressed! I now can confidently say that I have it good- but that’s another blog post ;)!

So there is a ¬†happy ending to this unfortunate double story. Like I said, some people aren’t so fortunate. Click here to learn more on what you can do to get out of an abusive relationship.

Through the abuse, the break ups, the rebuilding, the new beginnings, and new found happiness, “Jo” has been by my side. I never had to go through it alone.