This is one of those blog posts that started off being about one thing and has slowly morphed into something deeper. Much, much deeper.
At first I was going to write about this this thing I do, that I don’t want to do any more, and how I overcame it.
And then, when I realized that I hadn’t really overcome it, I was like, well shit, what do I say now?
(And that’s pretty much why I haven’t blogged in a long time).
So this thing I do, that I don’t want to do anymore: I get tense and reactive (and sometimes downright panicky) when I am a passenger on my husband’s motorcycle (and sometimes when he’s driving a car, but not nearly as much).
All it takes is one little thing, like suspecting that another driver might pull out in front of us…and, at the very least I start flinching and at the very worse I become annoying and controlling.
A few years ago it became a source of tension between us. He’d be frustrated because he thought I was criticizing his skills, and I’d be frustrated because I felt that he didn’t enjoy having me as a passenger and that I was ruining all his fun.
Actually, I was hurt.
It’s not like I ever held him back from riding on his own – in fact, I encourage it.
So why couldn’t he just dial it back when I am passenger? Well, of course he dials it back when I am a passenger, but not to the point where I feel comfortable. It’s the only thing we’ve ever really fought about.
And let me just take a moment and say that I trust my husband more than anyone else in the world. He is a seriously skilled, confident, considerate, aware, intelligent driver/rider who understands his vehicles both mechanically and in terms of what they are capable of doing, and he takes very good care of them to ensure that they are running properly and safely.
He is not a “jerk” on the road.
But all the logic and trust in the world didn’t seem to help.
And so, over the past several years, he has done a lot of riding on his own, and that is fine with me.
Earlier this year he asked me if I’d like to go with him in early September on one of his regular rides to New Hampshire. We talked about it and he assured me that he’d ride conservatively and I assured him that I wouldn’t be tense and reactive.
He rode conservatively and I still wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t enjoy myself and neither did he.
We had several conversations about it. He wanted to know how he could make it better for me and I was starting to realized that there was probably nothing he could do.
It’s only in hindsight that I see the sadness and guilt I was feeling.
When we got back, I thought to myself, “I need to fix this. I need to change my thoughts so I can change how I feel so I can change my annoying behavior. Or maybe this is more of a fight/flight thing? How can I make it so that I actually enjoy the ride (versus just tolerating it)?”
With the help of a colleague I examined the whole thing, had some ah-ha moments, and felt a lot better.
A week or so later I suggested to my husband that we take a shorter ride up to Narragansett, RI, (about an hour from where we live) and have lunch. It was a gorgeous day and I was envisioning a nice relaxing ride and a romantic lunch.
We got about two towns away and I burst into tears…
I asked him to pull over and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” We turned around and went home.
Again, there was incredible guilt and sadness on my part.
That was over a month ago and it’s been weighing on my mind ever since.
Yes, it’s partly a control thing. It’s partly that it’s kind of boring because it’s hard to see when you’re sitting behind someone…and there’s nothing to do but sit there in one rather limited position. And it’s partly a “feeling safe” thing: the only point of contact between me and the motorcycle is my bum on the seat and my feet on the pegs. I am perched on it (whereas Tim has his hands on the handlebars, his legs around the bike…he becomes one with it).
And all of that adds up to the real reason for the sadness and guilt: I just don’t like it.
The sadness and guilt comes from not loving something my husband loves and for not wanting to do it with him, for not enjoying it…and all that I make that mean.
And so rather than just accepting and owning my preference, I was trying to control the way he was riding, I beating myself up for not being able to “manage my fear,” and for thinking that I “couldn’t” do it.
I was making myself wrong over and over and over again.
And I’ve done this to myself in myriad ways since I was a little girl.
And so I am making a vow to myself: I am giving myself permission to not like what I don’t like, to allow myself to have desires and preferences without guilt, and to honor those desires and preferences without justification and without fear of what others might think of me. Or that they might not love me.
Oh, and about the motorcycle versus car thing? Because I truly enjoy riding in his car, it’s much easier for me to manage my mind and thus my controlling back-seat-driver behavior.
I have a lot more to say about the subject, so stay tuned for Part 2:
- Why, if I don’t truly like riding on a motorcycle did I do it, seemingly gladly, for years?
- Why women have a tendency to seemingly gladly do things they really don’t want to do.
- The toll it takes on us (and those we love) when we don’t truly understand and honor our desires and preferences.
Do you allow yourself to not like what you don’t like without guilt? Do you allow yourself to have desires and preferences without justification? Tell me all about it!