Recurring dreams

I’ve had the same nightmare for as long as I can remember.

The details have changed over the years, but the basics remain the same. I am in a car.  The car starts moving.  And I can’t stop it.

I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 21. I was married before I learned how to drive.  The dreams were a big part of why I waited so long to get my license.  But I had friends that drove, I dated boys that drove, and I lived in a small enough city that I could get anywhere I needed with a short bus ride or a walk.  I didn’t need a license.

Before I drove, the dreams always started with me in the passenger’s seat. For whatever reason, the driver would get out of the car.  The reasons varied: they forgot their wallet inside, they just needed to run into the convenience store quickly, or they were going to run up to the dropbox at Blockbuster.  (Yes, Blockbuster.  Yes, dropbox had a different meaning.  I’m old.  Get over it.)

With the driver out of the car, it would start to move. Slowly at first, but it would quickly pick up speed.  I would unbuckle my seatbelt and try to move across to the driver’s side while the car sped out of control.  Once I got to the other side of the car, the brakes wouldn’t work and I would steer helplessly as the car went faster and faster and faster.  I would press the brake pedal again and again, hoping for a different result, speeding through intersections and quiet residential streets.

Eventually I did get my driver’s license. I thought that maybe once I had my license, the dreams would stop.  I would be able to take control of the vehicle.  But the dreams didn’t stop; they just changed.  Now, I’m the one driving.  It always starts with my brakes failing just a little bit.  It’s a regular day, I’m on a regular drive to work, or to the grocery store, or to a friend’s house.  I’m coming up to a stop sign or a red light and I need to pump my brakes a few times to get them to work.  Weird, I think to myself in the dream.  I should probably get that looked at.

But then of course they eventually fail altogether. And I’m speeding down roads faster and faster, blasting through red lights and traffic and lines of Canadian Geese.  Okay, that last one hasn’t happened yet but I feel like it’s only a matter of time before that makes it into a dream.  Those geese are EVERYWHERE.

Since I’ve become more aware of these dreams, I try to talk myself out of them. Lucid dreaming, it’s called.  My brakes fail and I tell myself that this must just be another driving dream.  But in the dream, I can remember everything I’ve done on that day.  I can recall every detail, like what I did at work, or what I bought at the grocery store, or what kind of coffee my friend made me.  So it CAN’T be a dream.

As I go faster and faster, I run out of places to go. There are no more side streets to turn down.  The roads are busier now, and I’m in a more populated area.  There’s nowhere to go.  There’s nothing I can do.  It’s happening…

And then I wake up.

I did tell a therapist about these dreams at one point. It was suggested that I have these dreams because I feel like my life is out of control.  This seems true.  They are much more frequent when I don’t have a firm plan in my life.  I like control; I like planning; I like knowing what is going to happen and when.  And when I don’t know, I feel like a car spinning out of control.  My brakes are failing and I don’t know where I will end up.  I don’t know if I’ll come out alive.

All I know is that I can’t stop.

Be someone who makes hearts happy.

Yesterday my daughter said to me, “Mommy…I love you because your heart makes people happy.”

This was completely unprovoked.  We were snuggling on the couch close to bedtime.  Isabel was eating a snack.  I kissed her cheek and she wiped it off.  She kissed my cheek so I wiped it off too! She laughed and said, “We should wipe our kisses together!” She kissed my cheek again, and I kissed hers.  And then we rubbed our cheeks together like a couple of weirdos.

We both laughed and then she told me that she loves me…because my heart makes people happy.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that this is the most wonderful thing that anyone has ever said to me.  Not only is it an amazing compliment, but it’s reaffirming.  In my daily life I really do try to make other people happy.  Every person that I encounter in a day, I try to make smile.  I try to have a positive impact on every person in my life.

But the biggest reason that I loved this compliment from Isabel is that it reflects so much on HER.  It shows empathy, compassion, kindness, and love.  She loves me and she wanted me to know.  I make her happy and she wanted me to know.  She sees how I treat other people and she wanted me to know.

Maybe there’s hope for her after all!

I rag on her a lot.  Not to her face, obviously.  That would be bad parenting.  But behind her back…man, can I trash that kid.

*Before you judge me and call CAS and have my uterus ripped away from me, do you know Isabel? Do you? Have you spent extended periods of time with her? She is a wonderful, strong, smart little girl.  But yeah.  She can be a raging c…omplicated child.*

At home we talk about kindness a lot.  I give Isabel reminders to use kind words.  We talk about “filling buckets” by doing good things for other people.  We talk about the importance of words and compassion and consent.  It is so, so important for me that my girls grow up kind.  I love that Isabel is so fierce – no one will mess with her.  I know that she will not take shit from anyone when she’s older.  She is going to be an amazingly strong, confident woman.  And I know that one day I will be so grateful for that.  But today is not that day.

Today I want Isabel to learn that she can stand up for herself but still be kind.  She can protect her sister but still have compassion.  I want her to grow up and to have someone tell her that her heart makes people happy.  Her heart makes me happy every day.  I mean, sometimes her heart makes me want to stab myself in the eye, but mostly it makes me happy.

I can tell that she’s really “getting it” lately.  She has said some amazingly insightful things lately.  We were talking about blessings one day and she said, “I’m blessed with the most beautiful face in the world and it’s yours, Mommy.”  She could have said “I’m blessed with lots of toys!”, or “I’m blessed with this doll but I could really have more Shopkins.”  But she chose to express her love for me instead.

Walking home from school one afternoon, I told her that I am the luckiest mom in the whole world.  She said, “God made the perfect girls for you, didn’t he?”

So what’s the difference? What is so different lately that she’s all of a sudden GETTING IT? Don’t get me wrong, we still have eye-stabbing moments.  But we get past them quickly and go back to our love-fest.  So what is it?

I like myself.

This is a new thing.  I’ve had an epiphany.  If I met myself in the street, you know what? I’d like myself.  I would want to be my friend.  Up until very recently, I would have found myself annoying and needy and clingy.  Until recently, I didn’t understand why anyone was my friend.  I felt like my friends were only there because they were too nice to tell me to go fuck myself.  They were too nice to tell me that they didn’t actually want to be my friend.

But…my heart makes people happy.  My words make people laugh.  My actions make people smile.  And I like myself.

A lot of my difficulties with Isabel stem from the fact that I see so much of myself in her.  When she has a tantrum, I can remember exactly how that feels.  And I get frustrated with myself that I can’t control her behavior.  My frustration frustrates Isabel.  Which agitates me.  Which agitates her.  And it goes back and forth, feeding off of each other’s anxieties.

But you know what? I do see SO MUCH of myself in her.  But…that’s not a bad thing.  Look at me.  I’m smart.  I’m funny.  I’m kind.  I’m trying to be strong, even though I’ve been beaten down again and again.  These are traits that I WANT my daughters to have.  So why am I so upset when her behavior reflects my own? When I see myself in her, why am I getting mad? It’s because I’m getting mad at my OWN thoughts, my OWN feelings, my OWN behaviors.  I’m trying to stop her from being me.  But I’m starting to see that being me…isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m sorry, Isabel.  I’m sorry that I haven’t been the mom you deserve.  You ARE smart.  You ARE funny.  You ARE kind.  And I am so grateful every single day that you are my daughter.  You’re right, kid.  God DID make the perfect girls for me.

A very important list

I love lists.

I do. I write lists constantly.  It helps with my anxiety to see things on paper in front of me.  To-do lists are everywhere in my world.  Organization is beauty for me; it’s one of the reasons I love my job.

I also apparently love choosing the wrong guy. I am really good at it.  I find someone that seems so good for me, and then…they aren’t.  I need to break out of the patterns I have created for myself.  I need to be specific.  I need to be picky.

So, in true Brianne fashion, I have created a list of qualities that a potential partner must have. No settling.  Not anymore.  I’m too old to settle and I have two amazing little girls that don’t deserve to have someone in their life that isn’t going to be there long term, or isn’t going to be a positive role model.

There are some incredibly random items on this list, but trust me: they are all there for a specific reason. I am an open book – if any items need clarification or explanation, I’d love to provide it.

  • Tall (5’10 or above)
  • Well groomed
  • Smells good
  • Has post-secondary education
    • Doesn’t matter what type of PSE
    • Doesn’t matter if they graduated or with what degree/diploma/certificate
  • Has a stable job
  • Owns a car
  • Lives on his own (not with parents, roommate, etc.)
  • Owns at least one suit
  • Good grammar/spelling
  • Smart
  • Good sense of humour
    • Is funny
    • Thinks I’m funny
  • Can participate in witty banter
    • Sarcastic
    • Appreciates my sarcasm
  • Good relationship with parents, but not overbearing
  • First date must be an actual date
  • Friendly with wait staff, store clerks, etc.
  • If he has kids, must see them on a very regular basis
  • Likes at least one sport
  • Can recognize at least one Matthew Good song
  • Punctual
  • Swears, but not every other word
  • Doesn’t vape
  • Drinks but not every night, and not to excess
  • Does not speak negatively of any exes
  • Self-sufficient
  • Smiles in photos
  • No earrings
  • Treats me with respect
  • Trusts and is trustworthy
  • Not sexist/racist/homophobic/anything douchey

It all ends up hurting anyway

Think of the goal.  The endgame.  Typically when you’re dating, you’re looking for the one person.  Your forever person.  Your home.  The one person with whom you want to grow old.  The one that you want to wake up next to every morning for the rest of your life.  That is what we’re looking for.  That’s the objective.  That’s why we put ourselves through the torture of dating.  We want the happily ever after: that’s our definition of a successful relationship.

But…if you are with someone until you die…you’re with ONE person until you die.  That means that you can only have ONE successful relationship IN YOUR LIFE.  Think of how many relationships you’ve had? Maybe you haven’t had many.  Maybe you were really lucky and you met your soulmate in preschool and you will die in each other’s arms at 102.  But probably not. 

I’m not even asking how many RELATIONSHIP relationships you’ve had.  They don’t have to have been defined, or exclusive, or long term.  It could be an ongoing flirtation at work.  It could be someone with whom you went on three dates and called it quits.  It could just be someone you admired from afar for years before realizing that they can’t put together a coherent sentence to save their life.

My point is, you’ve probably had a few.  And let’s say that you DO end up with one person for the rest of your life.  Your success rate is still incredibly shitty.  I don’t mean to be pessimistic here, but I’m going to say that 99% of relationships are going to fail.  I think that’s a generous percentage.  It’s really probably more like 99.9999999999999999999…%, but I don’t want to seem cynical.

So what’s the point of getting emotions involved? I’d much rather keep one foot out the door and protect myself.  That way the second something goes wrong I can run.  I mean, yeah, maybe it’s an overreaction to someone switching the radio station when it’s a song I really like.  They don’t know I secretly love Duran Duran.  But ultimately the relationship is more than likely doomed from the start.  So if they tilt their head to their right to kiss and I tilt my head to my left, it’s just not going to work.  Why try.  It all ends up hurting anyway.

Barrie 2.0

You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

This is something with which I need to come to terms. I can’t stick around and watch someone’s life unravel.  I can’t watch them self-destruct yet still somehow keep myself intact.  I have to learn that sometimes love is not enough.

Whoa, did I just use the “l” word?

Yeah. I did.  I can’t help it.  I am in love with him.  I am.  I wish I wasn’t.  I’ve tried to stop.  But the second he gets in my car and his scent hits my nostrils…love.

We started talking again in November and the second I saw his name pop up on my phone I couldn’t contain myself. I know he hurt me before but still…he’s Barrie.

He is a wonderful human. When we’re together it just feels right.  We fit so well.  His arms feel like they were made to be around me.  He makes me laugh and he’s smart and he is such a nice person.  He is someone I could see myself marrying and having another child with – and that is a big deal.  He is interested in my life and my experiences…every single time I tell him.

Because, yeah. We repeat conversations a lot.  Because he is always drunk.

I love being around him but it always ends with this sinking feeling in my stomach. Lately that sinking feeling is there the entire time we are together.  I did voice my concerns about his drinking.  I told him that I wanted to be with him but I didn’t think I could accept it into my life.  It’s not just me: I have two daughters to take into consideration.

His response when I told him this? I can change. The next time we were together he had five drinks.  Wow, so much change happening there.

I don’t want to get too detailed because if he does read this, he absolutely knows who he is. I am not shy about the subjects of these blogs stumbling across them; this guy knows about this blog because I sent it to him the first time I wrote about him.  But details don’t need to be shared here – they are irrelevant.  All that matters is that I love him and I can’t watch him do this to himself.  I can’t bring this into my girls’ lives.

He doesn’t want to be saved. I can’t save him.  I need to walk away.

So this is me…walking away…it fucking sucks.

What if God was one of us?

I had a thought.  I often write as if I’m talking to someone.  I publish here the words I can’t say in person.  So what if I was to write a letter to God? What would it say? What would I be thankful for? In what areas of my life would I ask for help?

So this is what I’m going to be doing for the next few days.  I am going to think really hard about what I would say to God, or whatever is out there.  Maybe it’s just to the universe, or mother nature, or maybe (most likely) just nothingness.

But assuming there is some great powerful being out there…what would I say if given the chance?

What would YOU say?

While I spend the next few days thinking about it, I want you to think about it too.