I live in a suburban commuter town, so thankfully, getting to my place of employment by train is relatively easy — but still, a car for access to shopping, medical appointments, etc., is pretty much a necessity. My husband and friends have been my relatively cheerful (if at times, reluctant) "chauffeurs" for years now, but I have come to realize that it's unfair to keep relying on them for assistance in getting from here to there. And although they didn’t complain, I recognized that by relying on them, I was also curtailing my own sense of freedom, especially during the times when the fear was so strong that I couldn’t even be a passenger for more than a short hop to the store. My panic attacks and palpitations were making me restrict my life, and not letting others enjoy my company. I finally accepted that I had little choice but to somehow manage my fear of driving.
I’ve been working on my fears (driving isn’t the only one), but it’s been the most tenacious — in therapy. My therapist has been helping me reframe that fear by focusing on the positive aspects of being able to drive and providing a realistic context for this activity. My therapist also gave me some practical tools, like how to break a major road trip into a bunch of manageable distance milestones. With those supports, I told myself that there comes a time when a mature adult has to do more than simply cope. I had to make a concrete, action-oriented decision to master this life-diminishing phobia.
I am still taking lessons once a week, and I confess I don't practice driving much on my own. But I think I've progressed to the point where I can drive fairly comfortably on local roads if the weather is good and someone is in the car with me. I can get to the supermarket and the doctor's office. I may never be able to drive on a highway, and long road trips may still, or always, be out of reach, but time will tell what I will be able to accomplish. It's all still a process, but a forward-looking one. At least I've finally put my pedal to the metal. And I feel great knowing that I’m overcoming my fear, expanding my world and proclaiming my independence.
Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:
If so, thank you. Your financial gift helps us fulfill our mission of being an essential source of news and information for older adults. Just as important, your contribution demonstrates that you believe in the value of our work. We have a lot of exciting things planned in 2020 and we need your help to make sure they happen.
Haven’t given yet? Please make a gift today and help us reach our end-of-year goal — any amount helps. Thank you.