What is the meaning of a recurring dream I keep having?

I have been having a very vivid recurring dream the last few weeks since returning back home from a Presidents Day weekend beach trip with my family which is the first time we have been on vacation together since my father passed away in August.

The dream takes place in spring 1997 and I am 15 years old. When the dream begins, I am following my mom to my grandads old Tan 1983 Plymouth Reliant K Car (which would become my first car later that summer when I turned 16) which is parked in my parents driveway. When we get to the passenger side door my mom unlocks and opens it and then tells me to scoot over to the middle of the front seat so my sister can sit by the window. I get in and scoot over to the middle seat and then fasten the tan lap belt around my waist after my mom tells me I must go ahead and buckle-up. Once I have fastened my seatbelt, my mom closes the passenger side door and goes back into the house leaving me waiting in the car by myself. Soon I see my 11-year-old sister walking out of our house and then towards the passenger side of the reliant. She then is opening the passenger side door and sitting down in the passenger seat next to me. She is wearing the same pink hypercolor shirt, red overalls, and tan sandals that she always wears in the dream which was one of her favorite outfits during that time. She closes the passenger side door and then buckles her seat belt.

For most of the dream, my sister and I spend waiting in the car for mom to come and get it. We are both buckled-up and ready to go and just need her to get in. We always spend a really long time waiting. Probably over 45 minutes. During this time my attention shifts between looking through the windshield at our backyard; looking at the gauges on the dash board, the tan steering wheel, and empty tan vinyl drivers seat; watching at my sister blowing on her shirt so it will change colors & putting her feet on the glovebox which is the same shade of tan as her sandals; looking at the a/c controls and radio that are by my knees; looking at me and my sisters reflection in the windshield and noticing how much taller I am than her but she getting to sit by the window and I am stuck in the middle; and looking over my left shoulder towards the back door of our house to see if I see mom getting ready to come out. I try to avoid having any conversations with my sister while we are waiting for mom as her breath reeks and I have to smell it when she talks but she is constantly trying to start a conversation with me breathing her nasty breath in my face and invading my space and putting her head on my shoulder while we wait. The longer me and my sister wait in the car for my mom the more uncomfortable I get with the lap belt biting into my waist and my sisters body pressing up against my right side.

Eventually, I see mom coming out of the house. She seems to be in slow motion locking up the house and then walking to the driver side of the reliant. In some dreams she gets distracted by something before she gets to the driver side and me and my sister have to wait even longer. Eventually she is fumbling through her purse for the keys and then she is unlocking the driver side door and sitting down in the driver seat next to me. She puts the key in the ignition and the car makes a buzzing sound until she closes her door and I feel squished with my sister sitting on my right side and mon sitting on my left side. Mom then always spends a long time adjusting the mirrors and while she is doing this I notice her breath smells even worse than my sisters breath. I start to feel self conscience of riding between my mom and younger sister while she is in my space adjusting the mirrors. Once she has them adjusted, I see her hand reach for the key in the ignition and turn it so start the car. The car fails to start as I see the dash illuminated with red lights and her the buzzing sound again. Mom keeps turning the key trying to start the car, but it doesn’t want to start. I am focusing on her hand turning the key, the red lights on the dash, and the buzzing sound. Eventually she starts pumping the accelerator with her brown boot, but each crank still ends with the red lights on the dash, the buzzing sound, and the engine failing to start. I keep watching her pump the accelerator and turn the key hoping it will start on the next crank.

In some of the dreams, mom keeps getting out to look under the hood leaving me and my sister buckled in the reliant and in other dreams mom becomes worried she has left something on in the house and leaves us buckled in the car to go back into the house. I normally wake-up from the dream while mom is still trying to get the car started, pumping on the accelerator and turning the key. When I tell mom I want to get out of the car she always tells me she is responsible for starting the car and I need to stay buckled in my seat and calm down. As these dreams have progressed, my mom has gotten more frustrated about the car not starting-up and has been getting more insistent that I stay buckled in my seat when I tell her I want to get out of the car of reach to unbuckle my seatbelt.

The dream always ends before mom has been able to start the car or has given up, so I have no idea if she is eventually able to get it started. I also have no idea where we are going as the dream begins and ends with me bucked to the center seat in the reliant. The time when this dream happens is around 6 months after my grandad passed away a was a really dark time I do not like to think about.

I am wondering what this dream means? I want to know the interpretation of this dream and what everything means in it.


Active member
This recurring dream, set during a poignant time following your grandfather's passing and the first family vacation since your father's demise, symbolizes a longing for connection and resolution during periods of transition and loss.
  • The dream vividly captures a moment from your past, emphasizing feelings of waiting, anticipation, and frustration.
  • Your position in the car, squeezed between family members, may reflect feelings of being caught in the middle of family dynamics or responsibilities.
  • The inability of the car to start represents stalled progress or unresolved issues in waking life.
  • The dream suggests a deep yearning to move forward and find closure but feeling hindered by unresolved family matters or personal grief.
  • Your mother's insistence on you staying buckled and her struggles to start the car could symbolize your perceived need to adhere to family expectations or roles despite your desire for independence or change.
  • Your subconscious working through these feelings of stuckness and seeking resolution. The dream hints at the need for patience, communication, and perhaps reevaluating personal and familial roles to move forward.
This dream, recurring around significant family dates and memories, underscores the importance of addressing and healing from past hurts to progress in life. The solution may be finding ways to express your feelings and needs within your family, fostering a deeper understanding and healing.

You are nearing a point in your life where you will overcome a significant hurdle or resolve a longstanding issue that has been causing you frustration or holding you back. This breakthrough might manifest in personal achievements, such as successfully navigating a difficult conversation with a family member, leading to improved relationships, or making a decision that has been pending for a long time, finally allowing you to move forward with a sense of purpose and clarity. This progress will likely bring relief and newfound confidence, as if the car that couldn't start in your dream finally roars to life, ready to take you to your next destination.
I am still having this dream frequently and when I saw my sister over the weekend I asked her if she had any memories of mom driving us in Grandads old Reliant after he died because I keep having strange dreams about it. I did not give her any additional details about the content of the dreams but she immediately asked me if I was riding in the middle of the front seat between she and Mom in the dreams. When I told her I was she said she thought so. She then reminded me that one time after Granddad died mom was driving us in the reliant because her van had a flat tire and the I was riding in the middle of the front seat and she was riding by the window. According to her, I was angry that she was getting to sit by the window and I was having to ride in the middle. She remembers that she and I had to spend a long time waiting in the Reliant because mom was trying to arrange to have the tire on her van fixed and that I was acting like a baby and freaking out any time she touched me or put her head on my shoulder and was also making a big deal complaining about how long we were waiting for mom. She said that when mom finally came out and got in the Reliant that she had a hard time getting it to start and that the battery eventually went dead and I had a panic attack and freaked out when mom told us to wait in the car while she tried to find someone to give us a jump start. She said she also remembers discovering I stepped in poo when we were getting out of the car. While I think my sister may be embellishing this she is adamant that I had a panic attack when the car wouldn’t start and that I stepped in poo which made the car stink. I do remember that after Granddad died the backseat was full of his stuff that mom was trying to donate and the Reliant often had dead batteries often because it would sit in my parents driveway for several weeks at a time without being driven. Now that my sister has shared this memory with me, I am wondering how this may be causing me to keep having the dream. Again, I have no idea how much of my sisters memory of this really happened and how much she is embellishing but I expect at the least there was a time in my life around when this dream takes place where I was having to ride in the middle of the front seat of the Reliant between my sister and mom when we had to spend some time waiting in the car for mom to get in and then the car wouldn’t start. Wondering how all of this may impact this dream.


Active member
Your sister's recollection adds a fascinating layer of context to your recurring dream, suggesting that it may not only be symbolic but also rooted in an actual, emotionally charged event from your past. The specific details she provided—riding in the middle seat, the frustration with waiting, the panic when the car wouldn't start, and the added embarrassment of stepping in poo—paint a vivid picture of a moment where you felt trapped, uncomfortable, and possibly humiliated.

Dreams often serve as our subconscious's attempt to process unresolved feelings or memories. In this case, your dream seems to revisit a moment of vulnerability, powerlessness, and perhaps a sense of injustice or embarrassment, echoing your emotional state during that time in the Reliant. The recurrent nature of the dream suggests these feelings might not have been fully addressed or resolved in your waking life.

Understanding the potential root of the dream can be incredibly helpful in moving past it. This specific memory, compounded by the context of your grandfather's death and the car's association with him, is loaded with emotional significance. The dream may be your mind's way of seeking closure or healing from that time of loss and transition.

A practical step forward could involve addressing the feelings of that moment more directly—acknowledging the frustration, the sense of being trapped, and any residual feelings of grief for your grandfather. This might be done through journaling, discussing the event with a therapist, or even sharing and reconciling these memories with your sister and mother, if that feels appropriate. Understanding and processing these emotions can reduce their power over you, potentially diminishing the frequency or intensity of the dream.

In essence, your subconscious is likely signaling that it's time to unpack and release the emotional baggage tied to this event. Doing so can lead to greater emotional freedom and healing, not just from the event itself but from the compounded grief and changes your family was going through at the time.