Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Liberating Experience

I did it. I took and passed my driver's test. I'm a driver. And more importantly, I'm COMFORTABLE being a driver!

If you'd asked me yesterday why it took me so long I would've told you that it was because when I was 18, I was a passenger in my boyfriend's car and he got us into a pretty scary wreck. And I'm certain that played a major role in my fears. But much like the episode of The Simpsons when Marge conquers her fear of flying, when after she conquers it she suddenly realizes all sorts of important factors to her fear, yesterday I thought "Hm....I don't think it was JUST that one accident." I think I've always had some apprehension about driving. I remember being 13 years old and going to a slumber party....some of the girls decided to take a car out joy-riding. I did not go. That idea scared the hell out of me. I also remember being 17 and having my permit AND knowing how to drive just fine. BUT when our friend called and said he was too drunk to drive his car home, myself and a few friends went to get him and somehow I was designated as the person who had to drive his car home. That scared the hell out of me too. When I was 18 I drove my OWN car (I had a car before I had a license) to visit my boyfriend at work and I was terrified to change lanes because I was sure I'd hit someone. And I know how to drive! In fact, I've known how to drive since I was at least 15. It was never about not knowing how. It was about feeling capable. I would have nightmares that I'd be driving a car that I couldn't control. And even when I was awake I would get horrible flashes in my mind of trying to drive a car that to me felt like it was as big as a yacht and crossing into a lane, misreading how much space I had and cutting off the car behind me.

I've had my permit at least 3 times, probably more. Most of the time I'd have it and let it expire. Once I practiced a few times for a couple of weeks and then scheduled a behind-the-wheel test. I was so nervous. The instructor was just a really mean, power-trip of a woman. I didn't know the neighborhood I was driving in. I felt pressured and I ....CUT OFF THE PERSON BEHIND ME. Yeah, no kidding. They had to drive into the oncoming lanes just to avoid hitting me. I didn't get behind the wheel again for 2 1/2 years.

There were two important turning points:

1) A conversation with my friend Shanah. She made me realize that this was a legitimate fear and a serious one. But it was also an irrational one. To ME I was the one who was rational and everyone else in the world were disillusioned. She also told me that my brain was trained to believe I wasn't capable of driving. I needed to retrain my brain. She recommended hypnotherapy. I decided that my will power was stronger than hypnosis and now that I had a better understanding of what was going on in my own mind, I was simply going to start changing my thought patterns.

2) I turned 30. I had 2 children, one of whom was starting to have a lot of activities that she needed to be at. Erick was getting promoted and his hours were going to be such that it would be more and more difficult to rely on him to drive us everywhere. More importantly, McKenna is almost 4 and that means she's starting to retain those memories that will stay with her her whole life. I don't want my girls to ever think that it's ok to let a fear control your life. Besides, my California ID expired on my birthday. So if I ever wanted to write a check or use my credit card, I would need to either re-apply for a new one or I'd need to get my license. I knew if I got another ID card, I wouldn't never get my license. So I refused to renew it and I just buckled down and practiced driving as much as possible. I mean, c'mon. I quit smoking. I labored 2 babies. I started my own successful business. I got over my fear of the dentist and endured 5 extractions, a root canal and BRACES at 26 years old! I could do THIS! Like my MIL has always told me, God does not want His people to be in bondage or captivated by fear. He helped me do all of these other things, why should He abandon me to this fear? He wouldn't.

So with lots of practice, one extremely supportive husband who has never once made fun of me but has patiently waited for me to be ready to do this on my own time, and a whole team of prayer warriors....

I took the test and I passed! I really had no idea if I'd passed or not when the exam was over. I just watched her intently and waited to see what she said. She counted the infractions (I had 8 out of the allowed 18.) "You passed". I felt dizzy when she said it. Like I became a new person right in that moment! When I got out of the car, Erick walked over to me and with tears in my eyes and a pitifully cracking voice I said "Honey, I passed."

Today I decided to run some errands by myself and it was totally liberating! I loved it! I wanted to drive around all day! I felt like I'd been a driver my whole life. It was like once the DMV confirmed I was good enough to be a licensed driver then I FELT like I was a good driver! I drove all over! My first stop was STARBUCKS! LOL! I really wanted to just enjoy the ability to drive myself, get out of the car without having to load/unload kids and treat myself to a tall white chocolate mocha with a shot of almond! ; )

Then I stopped at Michael's for some supplies for my Scrap Gypsies project that's due this week. And after that I stopped at Babies R Us to pick up some presents for my new NIECE!! That's right! Mel and Brian are having a DAUGHTER!!!!!! They're pretty sure they'll name her Maggie. So I'm calling her Maggie Mae. ; ) I also picked up lunch, took both girls to Target by myself and ran to 7-11 for some milk.

So consider this fear CONQUERED!

Off to watch Grey's and work on my project now! = D

Here's a layout I finished up today for Digi-Dare #34. The dare is to scrap about weather!


KirstieGai said...

wow, congrats on taking the leap and conquering a fear

Melissa Ives said...

Congrats girl!!! That is awesome!!!

Laura said...

Congratulations girl!!! I know you must have been elated when you were out running errands by yourself, enjoying that freedom!! I'm so proud of you for this!!

I love your new layout, it's gorgeous!!!

Jennifer said...

Congrats Shannon!! That's so great...I'm very proud!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this really shakes me to the core. Though I was afraid of driving all my adult life, I dug in and did it anyhoo for many years. Then a year ago I had a fender bender at a red light - in the other car was a young pregnant lady with a toddler. Thankfully no one was hurt, (thank you God!!)but I was charged with going through a red light. I couldn't believe I had done it. That experience wiped out not only my belief in my driving ability, but my belief in myself period. I have sorta been frozen in time ever since. Maybe your experience will give me new food for thought. So happy for you!! Wonderful!

The Gilles Family said...

I am SO proud of you! Congratulations!!!!!

Emmy said...

awww Shannon, man I'm such a sappy girl cause by the time I got to the part where you told your dh you passed I was all teary eyed! :) congrats to you - I'm sure you will love the freedom it gives you. :)

Elaine said...

CONGRATULATIONS SHANNON!!! You finally did it! I remember that first car too (at your dad's apartment.. remember we worked together at that data entry place down the street?)
and I don't think I ever saw you drive that car. I didn't realize how bad of a phobia you had with driving.

Congratulations again! That's awesome. And congrats to Mel for having a girl!! Whoooo!

Christa said...

Congratulations Shannon!! I am 28 and still don't have my license for pretty much similar reasons....a silly irrational fear. I have started practicing more and more and hope to get my full license by the start of the summer! You have inspired me :) thank you!