“It’s just a car” she said, trying to calm me down.
I stayed silent, although my mind had an instant reply. It’s a metal box full of petrol which nearly swerved into another metal box full of petrol; with three human lives in them.
Ah. No wonder I get anxious…
I passed my driving test five years ago, having learnt in just under 6 months, only using the instructor’s car. I began driving my mum’s car in July this year. I learnt to drive in a small diesel car which braked well and had really accurate steering… you turn the wheel and the car turned. I’m now driving a wider petrol car and wondering why touching the gas a millimetre makes me shoot forward at a million miles an hour.
Yesterday, I hit the curb when turning around a mini roundabout, and despite being okay with worse mistakes last week, it shook me up.
I have a history of panic attacks. I have a general tendency to act anxiously, even if I’m able to handle things. My driving style involves speaking out loud. My hands stay on the wheel, I check the mirrors often, the speedo rarely goes too high or low for the speed limit.. but I drive with a constant dialogue.
“Please stay green, oh hell I feel so close to the curb; AHH there’s a bus what do I do, please don’t stop, can I get through that gap?”
I’m not panicking. I’m working through the algorithms of driving. I’m quite calm and each comment usually gets a mental answer which means I remain calm.
But I sure as hell worry my mum on the passenger seat, and the voice I use is full of anxiety.
I’m assured from my neuroscience knowledge that we all have the chemicals which cause us anxiety, and they do have a common, useful purpose in that respect. The comments I make go through any driver’s head at some point in their driving, except it’s often automatic for others.
It’s human tendency to question, to double check, and also to be anxious if we’re not sure things are working out. This is the human alarm system so that we can make changes and try to rectify problems early. Unfortunately, in some people, the system has grown up/been taught to be too sensitive.
Redefining my Alarm System
I’ve had two car-related traumas and my brain is still struggling to redefine my other driving experiences. In the last week I’ve had three minor altercations which have all built up the “DRIVING IS DANGEROUS” mindset which was created when I was younger.
Last night, as I settled down into a game to switch off my brain, I felt the anxiety beneath the surface. I was too anxious to go to bed, too worried to actually stay with my thoughts and every part of me wanted to cry. So I let it.
I cried for most of the evening. And I wrote a long letter from future me; the ‘me’ who has been through this evening and is no longer scared of driving.
Stepping into the Light
This morning I meditated. I danced the Shiva. I’m visualising my tree core. I’m taking every system of support and holding myself up with it. I’m looking up a new route to drive which doesn’t involve that mini roundabout where I clipped the curb. I’m deliberately getting back into that driving seat and taking the same level of route (8 mile loop, road works, chicanes, buses which stop half way round a turning) and adding a tiny new side road loop to increase the experience.
I’m being pro-active in looking up driving tips and re-exciting myself about that awesomely stable sounding, sticks-to-the-road, actually turns when you move the wheel type of car I’ve been looking at. I’m seeing myself happy in it, remembering the times I felt safe in the driving instructor’s car. I’m reminding myself that being able to drive this car, which feels huge, has less responsive steering and braking and far too responsive acceleration (compared to only car I drove before) will allow me to love driving in one which is like the previous one.
~ *** ~
Everyone makes mistakes, humans are conditioned to learn and I shall conquer this. With the right support, compassionate self-talk, and gentle steps forward, I can redefine this fear into an opportunity.
Like my games, I can make this “battle training” and prepare myself as the alchemist; someone who works with the elements and transmutes fear into excitement. I can train in this car and learn to handle every obstacle. Then if it shows up later, I know I’ve faced it before, and I’ll barely have to think about it.
– Rose –
Do you wish to redefine a fear? Want to know how I can help? As phoenix rises from ashes into flame, the alchemist turns lead to gold. Wander over to the Alchemy Forge and fire up your dreams.