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Still Afraid, Still Can't Help It

It was about seven years ago when an idiot changed lanes in front of us while she was driving on the freeway. There was barely room for him between us and the car in front of us, and tons of room behind us and in front of the other car. All of us were speeding in the fast lane. He used his blinker only when he was already making the change... and my friend hit the brakes - hard. She lost control. I don't know how many times we swerved across how many lanes. It seemed like slow motion. And then the solid cement center divide came right at us. I thought I was going to die.

Miraculously, we were fine. My first instinct was to call 911. But the only damage was to the car. We didn't hit anyone else. My legs were wet and warm from my spilled chai tea latte. Her car was totaled, unsalvageable. But we didn't have more than reddened faces from the air bags. I went to the doctor the next day for whiplash, but that was it.

At the time I was strong. My friend was crying, I comforted her and let her cry on my shoulder. Part of it was shock, I'm sure. Part of it was that I'm not good with emotions - showing them, identifying them. But I was far from unaffected.

My friend is slightly older than I am. She's always been much braver, more independent, and far more outgoing. So she got her permit and license first, and because we were always together, I never bothered. After the accident, I was afraid. At first I was tense just being in a car, even as a passenger. I just kept replaying the accident in my head. Or new accidents. Thankfully that got easier. But being behind the wheel? Still scared the **** out of me. People are so reckless. I'm as much afraid of not knowing how I'll react as not knowing how anyone else will. But I'm not particularly outgoing or adventurous. So not driving didn't keep me from doing things. I could walk to take a bus downtown. My parents took me to and from school. I went out of state to college, and freshmen aren't allowed to have cars (not enough parking) - so still no need. I dropped out for various reasons and came home after a year. I found a job, but was still so afraid to drive. I got rides or took the bus to work and school over the years... It was embarrassing, but the fear was and is far greater. I got my permit three times over the years before I forced myself to take the test, and even then only because I was assured I wouldn't have to go on the freeway.

Getting behind the wheel - even just the thought of it - starts to make me panicky. I find it highly stressful and frightening. Just taking side roads makes me nervous - forget about high-speed freeway driving. I just can't do it. I see people doing stupid, dangerous crap EVERY time I'm in a car. It's bad enough dealing with it going 30 mph, forget 70. I am very afraid. Period.

Luckily, my family is kind about it. They don't push me. They'll do their best to go out of their way to take me somewhere if a freeway is necessary. And I love them for it. But others do push me. They tell me I need to "get over my fear" and "not let it control my life." It's like - DUH. You think I want to be like this? It restricts my ability to find a job, to move on with my life. You think I'm happy this way? But it's just not that easy for some people. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has at least one weakness. I don't see why people can't just accept that about others.
StuckSilent StuckSilent 22-25 Feb 12, 2013

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