There’s something about me that is a little known fact, something even close friends do not know. Here it is: I am terrified to drive. Yes, that’s right: terrified. In fact, until quite recently I did not have a driver’s license. For some of you that might come as quite a shock, but driving phobia is more common than you’d think, even if the people who have it often find excuses for not driving rather than owning up to it.
I used to be just like that. “We only have one car,” I’d use as my excuse to beg for rides home from coworkers. And sure, it was true, but what about on his off days? Or, “I’m just too tired right now, honey.”
It used to be a subject of endless fights between me and my husband. He just couldn’t understand it. I was a grown woman, why was I afraid to drive? The more he badgered me about it, the less I felt like getting behind the wheel.
Why is a good question, and one I am forced to find an answer to the more and more I chauffeur my girls around. Well, from about the time I was ten, whenever there was record of an accident in the paper that involved teenagers, my father would read it to me. The message I got was not be careful the message I got was cars kill.
When he was trying to teach me how to drive he yelled a lot. It took years before I could sit behind the wheel and not instantly tense up. Sometimes I still do it. It is hard to move a steering wheel you have a death grip on. My driver’s ed teacher was even worse, and reinforced my white knuckled grip. Another lesson learned was that I was a bad driver, even though technically I was just learning along with the other sophomores at school.
Even before then I had nightmares involving driving. Heck, I still do, and it’s always the same: I’m driving somewhere, and I hit the gas instead of the break, I lose control of the car, swerving wildly until I see the police lights flashing in the rearview mirror, at what point I am magically able to stop.
Like I said, I don’t talk about this fear often, but I know I am not alone. My mom has a coworker who has never driven. Two more of my friends do not drive. An acquaintance just got his license at twenty. And me, I have gone from hardly ever driving to driving at least twice a week. I often wonder if I will ever sit behind the wheel without starting to shake.