Trains, planes or automobiles, it doesn’t really matter, I’m not a great traveler. It’s not that I don’t like to go places, it’s the getting there and getting back that’s a problem for me. I hate being in a car, I don’t like the take-off or landing in a plane….and strangely, I do better in small planes…. Trains, well, they just don’t seem to be that convenient.
I haven’t always been like this. When my oldest son was little, I would put him in the car, pack a picnic, and scrape up all the change I could for gasoline, and we’d go ‘exploring’. I really didn’t care where we went. Sometimes I’d ask my four year old son, “Which way should we go?” “Tell me when to turn.” It was just an adventure. In fact, that was pretty much the way we met Hunky Hubby. We had a destination, but we got lost and it didn’t really matter…because we were exploring.
After Hunky Hubby and I were married, I was pregnant with middle son, oldest son was in the passenger seat of my, oh so adorable Mustang Cobra with the sunroof, and we were crossing a major street, when a lady driving a VW Rabbit speeding, in the bus lane hit the passenger side of the car. I instinctively turned to protect my six year old, not that I could protect him from an oncoming car, but by doing so, may have protected my unborn middle son. When I turned to the side, I moved my belly away as the steering wheel collapsed into my thigh. I still have a dent in my thigh, although not noticeable, from the steering wheel. Although my cute Mustang was totaled, no one was hurt, and that was what really mattered. I have to admit that before this accident I didn’t always wear a seatbelt, but since this accident I have never started the engine of a car without my seatbelt on.
A few years later, we were living out in the high desert, I had all three of our sons in our Hyundai. We had just had a special treat, lunch out at Sizzler and were on our way home. We were on a two lane road with sandy shoulders. Another car was coming in the opposite direction when the driver bent down and disappeared from sight and drifted into our lane. I swerved off the road to avoid a head-on collision. Our car spun in a circle ending up facing the opposite direction as it rolled onto a dirt berm all the way onto the roof, then back down to land on all four wheels. For a moment as the car came to a stop there was complete silence, and I was terrified. Then the two younger kids began crying from the backseat, and I could see my oldest, in front with me, was fine. The other car took off, not even stopping to see if we were okay.
This was before cell phones, and the road we were on was not heavily traveled, so I was thankful when a garbage truck came by and called the police from their CB. When the police officer arrived, the boys and I were standing by the car waiting. The officer got out of his vehicle, looked at ours, and asked where the bodies had been transported. That’s how bad the car looked. I don’t think I realized how bad it was until a few days later when Hunky Hubby took me grocery shopping. For some reason he had had the Hyundai towed to our house. When we got back from the grocery store I saw the remains of our car sitting there in the driveway and broke down in tears, thankful that we all made it out of that car alive.
I was told that with time I’d get over these experiences, but nearly twenty years since the second accident, I haven’t. I do drive, I never stopped, but I don’t go very far on my own…..unless I have to. I have driven between Wyoming and California several times. On occasion I have driven to my OCC RWA meeting, thirty miles away. I can stretch my radius if I need to, but I’m not comfortable doing it, and I have to admit that on a couple of occasions I’ve gotten to my destination so shaken up that I haven’t been sure I could get myself back home.
We lived in the high desert for five years, and I never once drove out of that valley by myself. I probably only left the valley with someone a handful of times during those years. We moved to Casper, Wyoming, lived there for six years, and I never left Casper by myself. Someone else always had to take me.
A friend of mine once questioned my life, not going places very often. To be honest, it rarely bothers me. I’m quite content wherever I am. I like to do and see other things, and will occasionally push myself beyond my comfort level, but generally, I’m happiest at home. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much.
Ray Bradbury, one of my favorite authors, didn’t drive, he had a chauffeur, and if I had the money, I would too. Maybe I would go more places, but it’s not as though I’m a great passenger either. When someone else is driving I sit on my hands to keep from reaching for the dashboard, and sometimes I find my foot pushing on a non-existent brake pedal. I’m a terrified passenger.
I couldn’t teach my boys to drive because I was afraid that my reactions to other cars would cause them to have an accident, or undermine their confidence. I don’t think they always understood. It wasn’t about my confidence in them, it was about my confidence in other drivers. This bothered me much more than limiting how far I drive.
Luckily for me, Hunky Hubby is a little bit of a male chauvinist (I think I’ve said this before) and he prefers to drive. He also has no problem dealing with my paranoia. He takes me anywhere I need to go, and pretty much anywhere I want to go….if I want to go badly enough.
I know some people who would have a problem living like this, and some who have a problem with the fact that I live like this, but I’ve learned that we all have our challenges. For me driving is a huge problem, for others hypochondria, fidelity, alcoholism, drugs, there are so many challenges we can struggle with in this life.
Anyone else out there afraid of driving? Anyone overcome this fear? What are your biggest challenges?