It seems that whenever I discuss my fear of driving I run into two kinds of people. You get the kind of person who has also somehow become afraid of driving, either through an accident or some other incident, and they don’t think you should bother getting over your fear – and you get the other people who just tell you to “get over it”. I honestly can understand where both camps are coming from, but I don’t agree with either of them.
For starters, I do not let fears run my life. True, right now I am slightly crippled by my fear of driving. But, what is it currently keeping me from? I can get to work without any commute, so that is not an issue. I don’t leave the house without Master, and Master loves to drive. So basically, the only thing that is being hampered by my ability to drive is the fact that if there were an emergency and Master couldn’t drive – we’d be shit out of luck. And you know what? That’s not OK to me.
To the camp which tell me all the time that you can just walk. No. YOU can walk. I cannot. Where I live there is no way for me to get the places that I’d need to go in an emergency. The closest store is a gas station, and it is three or four miles down the road. Not only that, but there are no sidewalks between here or there. While I can easily walk six or eight miles if I need to (and, while Master and me DO that on occasion since we love to hike), walking in the snow or other inclement weather without a sidewalk is dangerous around here. Especially at night.
I say that you can walk, because you probably can. Most people who give me this argument live in the city. Master and me lived in the city for a long time, and we used busses, trains, and our own feet quite often. In the city it is easy to get from place to place. Out here, it is rural and not possible to get around simply by walking. There are few busses and no passenger trains where we live either.
To those who say that you should “just get over it”. Nu-uh. People do not get “over” crippling fears overnight. They just don’t. I have made incredible strides when it comes to driving, but the fact of the matter is, I’m just not ready to drive alone or far yet. I will get there.
A couple years ago, after the first accident we got into with Bettie, I literally got behind the steering wheel and I cried whenever I got in the car. I didn’t think I could do anything, or go anywhere because I was so terrified. My shoulders would be up by my ears in tension, and I’d be so frightened. Right now, I don’t cry, and I can mostly keep my shoulders from attaching to my ears – but it didn’t happen over night, and I didn’t just “get over it.”
Last month Master and me moved from a place that was quasi-near the city, to this place, which is rural. We love the place we live now, but as the area is still unfamiliar to me, I’m not comfortable driving alone in it yet, which is pretty common for a lot of people, not just those with a fear of driving.
For me, being afraid of something is a temporary thing. I used to be afraid of having sex from behind, of heights, of sleeping alone, of spiders. I am not 100% okay with sex from behind (though, I’m a bit nervous when new people fuck my that way, it doesn’t mean I won’t do it though). I still do not love heights, but I conquered that fear over and over by flying, climbing up scary playground equipment, and walking across bridges near the edge. I’m not going to tell you I’d be thrilled to find out that I have to have sex on top of a high up building on the roof or something, but I’m not terrified by heights anymore. I have slept alone plenty, and while I don’t like it, I’m not afraid of it either. And, while I don’t love spiders, I have learned to get along with them well enough. I steer clear of them, and when I find one, I leave it be, instead of screaming or crying. It took a long time to get over these fears and none of them were easy for me. Some required medical intervention (as with the spiders. I went to a special medical study to help get over my fear), but all of them required help from other people. I wasn’t able to conquer any of my fears without someone to help me feel okay with them. There are many, many more examples in my life of me overcoming a fear, but you should get the picture by now.
I wasn’t always afraid to drive. Growing up, I wanted to learn to drive very badly so I could move out of my parent’s house. We didn’t live in the city, nor were we very rural, but there wasn’t a lot that was close enough that I could walk to it. I begged my parents to teach me, but neither could really be bothered. My Dad would take me out to drive once a week for about a half an hour, and my Mom refused to drive with me in the car. Driving with Dad was a nightmare, because he would just scream and yell at me. It was obvious that I wasn’t going to learn much from him.
Since Dad wasn’t helping me to drive, and no one else in the family was supportive at all, I turned to one of my close friends at the time. I wound up moving in with her, and my Dad gave me one of his cars (he used to have too many, anyway). My friend helped me a lot by letting me drive everywhere we could, and I got comfortable with driving pretty quickly! (If you pretend that parallel parking wasn’t part of the equation). Luckily for me, my friend worked at the same place I did, so it wasn’t an issue of hogging all her time or anything.
A couple of months after I got my license, I moved in with Master. At the time, I had switched jobs and now worked about thirty minutes away. I had to drive through a major city (Boston), and on the highway, daily. I had no problems with it whatsoever. In fact, I loved to drive at that point. I was still a stickler for obeying all laws of the road (as I am now), but I would always volunteer to drive whenever Master and me had to go anywhere. Master loves driving, so I would lose a lot, but he would let me drive sometimes.
I was pretty OK with driving until two years ago, when we moved to Colorado. Colorado roads are much different than back East. For one, lanes continually pop up and disappear without warning. Even Master gets a bit flustered, and I would only drive short distances while we were both getting used to the new state and it’s rascally roads. Fair enough. Well, then that woman backed into the front of our car, and I’ve been terrified since. It doesn’t help that we have also been in more accidents since then either.
While driving is hard for me, I absolutely refuse to accept that I am nervous about driving. I know this is something I can and will get over. Not overnight, and not by ignoring it. I used to love it, and I know I can get back to that place. This will go away slowly, after I get my driving confidence back, and after lots and lots of work and help. It’ll be just like all the other fears I am working on now: temporary, and with time, lessened to the point of being able to live comfortably with it.