I don’t know what most will think about this post. I feel like while reading this, people may laugh and think this is absolutely absurd and ridiculous. None the less, this is something I am very ashamed of and absolutely down right embarrassed to admit. As most people now know, I have anxiety and I have learned to be open and honest about MOST of the things that trigger it BUT I still have not confessed the biggest trigger and the thing that makes me shut down and lose control. As I am writing this, I am honestly really not sure if I will post it but I guess if you are reading this I decided to go and put my dignity on a platter. The more I think about it, the more open to possible ridicule this makes me. Also, I doubt many would even understand or even sympathize. I am not looking for sympathy by posting this. I am perhaps looking for a comforting “me too” to know that maybe this type of anxiety, or more appropriately labeled PHOBIA, is not one that I am alone with. Okay so here it goes. I can barely bring myself to type it because it is honestly so stupid and something anyone can do, anyone except me it seems. Alright…so I suffer from Vehophobia, which is the fear of driving.
Okay so are you laughing? Do you think of me differently? I really don’t think I have been able to express to anyone how much this fear of driving hinders my life. The anxiety I feel in a situation where I am asked to drive is debilitating. I lock up and I get dizzy. I start to feel like I am a danger to those around me and that if I make a mistake, I could end someone’s life. I would not be able to live with myself if that ever happened. I have taken numerous amounts of lessons with some bad instructors (one who definitely sexually harassed me during every lesson at the age of 18) and some great instructors who told me I am amazing at driving. I have my full licence and know how to actually physically drive but it’s the psychological part that eats me alive. I feel like a joke. Some 16 year olds do it and they aren’t even afraid, in fact, they’re excited! What the hell is wrong with me? How do I even fix this irrational fear of driving? I am so ashamed of this fear and I really beat myself up for it. I have to rely on friends or family to pick me up and take me somewhere and if anyone knows me well they know that I have such an issue with anyone doing any favors for me. This has caused me to stay inside and miss out on a lot. I would rather not burden anyone with the chore of picking me up, so I end up staying home alone and it just becomes hurtful to miss out on life because of this.
I just don’t know what else to do at this point. I could talk about it until I am blue in the face but it won’t get me anywhere it seems. I have driven with so many instructors just fine but when it comes to driving alone or with friends or family, I simply do not have confidence. That maybe is the root of the issue right there. It’s not trusting myself or my driving abilities. I feel like I will get somewhere on the road and not know what to do or when it’s okay to move. Things play over in my head and they always end negatively. I have had some very aggressive people attempt to teach me how to drive and it actually solidified for me that I cannot do this. So many people lost their patience with me and then in turn made me feel 1000x worse about myself. Their negative comments have shattered my driving confidence in to so many pieces.
During the Christmas break we had a rental car that was small and the perfect car to practice in. I needed desperately to do some last minute shopping as it was Christmas Eve and I was waiting for my husband to take me to Wal Mart. I waited and I waited and when I saw that time was cutting close I asked if we could go. Of course frustrated with me over this ridiculous fear, he said to me just take the keys and go by yourself and drive. I was so embarrassed because he said this in front of someone else and I really felt like I can’t let this defeat me and I don’t want this other person to think less of me. So I took the keys and I left for the car. I got in the car and my heart began racing and I immediately started shaking uncontrollably. I wished so badly that he would come out and realize this is so hard for me but he didn’t. I adjusted my mirrors and my seat. I turned on the car and I backed out of the driveway. I started to drive and instantly felt like I didn’t have control over the car. I was so emotionally charged at the time and I couldn’t even think. I was getting further down the road and was about to make a right hand turn and then as I was going there was a car coming fast towards me. I panicked and then I stopped the car. I felt like I didn’t trust my judgement about when to go or not go. I started thinking to myself, this isn’t even safe. I could kill myself this way. I decided to just go straight and try to turn back around. I went down some streets to try to see if I could get the feel of the car and start feeling better. I actually started to really panic and feel so much worse. My thoughts were taking over and it started happening. I couldn’t catch my breathe and I went in to a full blown panic attack. I couldn’t see well and I felt so light headed. I some how managed to drive home, I parked the car and turned it off. I put my head in to my hands and I just broke down and cried. I was defeated. I let myself down, I let the people down who needed me to go to the store to buy things for Christmas dinner and I just cracked. I was so sick of myself. So sick of relying on my husband and so sick of being trapped.
I am very hard on myself when it comes to doing my part whether it was in school group projects, at work or at home. I obsess over balance and equality, so having to rely on other people all the time makes me sick. I feel worthless and defeated over this. I never get to visit my mom or dad and our relationships have suffered. I have two daughters who miss out on doing fun events because I cannot drive them or pick them up. My life isn’t just suffering, my kid’s lives are as well and that needs to change. Hindering my own life is one thing but when it affects my children, it just is unacceptable.
I know what you must be thinking….just do it. Just practice and you will be fine. No one understands, the fear becomes physical, I shut down. What goes on in my head and in my body horrifies me to my core. I spend a lot of my life helping others and giving them love and confidence but this is one issue I can’t seem to help myself with. So as hard as this is for me, I need to ask for help. How do I do this? What do you suggest I do to get over this and get driving with confidence? Some people have told me I am just not meant to drive but I can’t settle for that answer. I want to be able to go get groceries when I want, take my kids to a movie, go see my parents or my friends and so much more. I want to have control of my life and I feel like without being able to drive, I have to hand my ability to be independent to someone else and it’s embarrassing. This issue makes me feel like I am a burden of a wife, an awful friend, a horrible daughter, and the one that hurts me the most is a let down of a mother. This issue has hindered many aspects of my life and I feel like I am imprisoned in my home. I hear my friend’s say how horrible it is when their car is in the shop and they won’t be mobile for a few days and how it is killing them. That is my life everyday! That trapped feeling, I cannot get used to it. It messes with me heavily because when I do get out, I feel like I need so much time to adjust to being out in society and just when I get comfortable with it, I have to go home and spend a while before getting out again. I’m not sure if I am even properly portraying how much this affects me or if people have stopped reading this by now because it is ridiculous. Either way, this is helping me write out my feelings and things that I have kept hidden away and covered with excuses. So there it is. I’m not perfect. I am so far from it.