Jack of Many Trades

On Comfort Zones

Originally posted: 2012-03-26

About those comfort zones...

Mere hours after I wrote that post, we went in to see about getting the auto loan refinanced. We were offered a really good rate, but in order to get it, I have to get my driver's license this week. Now, I'm 31 years old, I really should have had my license before now. I've even had my learner's permit for a couple of months. But the idea of actually getting behind the wheel terrified me.

Part of that was because of my first (and only) driving lesson with my father. He took me out to a deserted, rural road near our house and had me swap sides with him. I drove about ten yards and managed to hit the brake and the gas at the same time, at which point he told me we were done, had me swap back with him, and took me home. He didn't take me back out at all. (I know now that my dad also has anxiety issues, which puts a lot of my childhood in a new light, but that's a post unto itself.)

I went overseas, missed driver's ed in high school, and came back. My dad complained about driving me places my senior year, but the subject of teaching me never came up again.

I went to college in a town where parking was always a mess, and so there was no real impetus to get my license. And then I met my ex, who, when I told her the story about the one and only time I drove, told me I probably shouldn't drive anyway because I'm too easily-distracted and it would be too hard for me. This was repeated through the relationship whenever the subject came up, so I just took it as truth reinforcing what my dad had obviously seen - that I would clearly be a terrible driver, so I shouldn't bother.

My girlfriend has been encouraging me for months now but not pushing it too hard because it makes me anxious. Really, really anxious. Like, after the subject came up yesterday, I had a panic attack that lasted all night and into this morning despite two doses of Rescue Remedy.

In fact, the only thing that helped? Was going out and getting behind the wheel of the damn car this morning. Amber was amazingly patient, putting up with all my anxious braking, my wide turns, and the fact that I freaked out every time a car drove across the parking lot I started in. After an hour, I said I wanted to go home and try sleeping, but as we got close to the apartment, I tensed up again.

Not wanting to give in, I told her I wanted to try neighborhood driving instead. I practiced turning, even doing a couple of three-point turns when I wandered into dead end streets, and again she put up with me freaking out when I accidentally ended up on a slightly more major street than I was planning on. I tried to sleep again afterward, but was still too twitchy, so we went grocery shopping. On the way home I told her to stop and let me drive again.

And when we got home? I actually slept.

About the only things I haven't practiced at this point are parallel parking and backing up a lengthy distance. I actually feel sort of comfortable behind the wheel, as long as I'm not going more than about twenty miles an hour. I'm going to go out one more time today before I lose the light, and then practice around work the rest of the week.

I'm feeling better, but I'm not going to relax until I take the test, I think. Wish me luck, guys.