Driving And Me = Phobic
I had just confidently and successfully passed my road test. I was proud, I was a teenager; I could now drive. My father had taken me to the road test and I was, like most teenagers, eager to show off my skills. I passed the dreaded road test easily and I left the test, positively beaming.
My father, reluctantly, let me drive home. The first, ummm, stop was the slightest, gentlest, teeny, tiny bump of my car into the car ahead of me at a red light. NOTHING happened, but my father started to freak out, including getting out of the car and talking to the other driver. There were NO damages, not even a dent or a spot. I was way to young to say or even think “hey Dad, chill, that’s what bumpers are for” and if I had he would have swiftly slapped me across my face. He was already in a mood.
I was determined to keep driving and off we went. I was driving splendidly, I thought, slowly and carefully. We arrived safely at the street where we rented a space in a garage. All of a sudden, my father freaked out, threw his left leg over to the brake pedal and slammed it down, hard. He also started yelling at me “you are too close to the car on the side,” “you are going to scratch it.” What? Huh? No car was on the road, except for parked cars and I was fine. However, I was so shocked, horrified and embarrassed (even though nothing had happened) that, after that, I shut down and stopped driving altogether.I totally blamed my father for my chronic fear of driving, my new phobia. I quit.
I didn’t drive for 25 years when my boyfriend (now husband) insisted that I start driving again. He was a magnificent teacher, terrorizing me with the jingle-jangle of his car keys to signal to me that it was my turn to drive!
He was patient and gentle, no screaming, no dramatics. I remember he used to say quietly “mantain your speed” but there were no close calls, not a fender-bender, nothing but his confidence in me. The first car-ride trip I made alone after that was picking up my parents from a hotel when they visited us in Boston. My parents were a little shocked to see me pull up, alone and I had to encourage their praise, but I drove home confidently. I was in charge NOW; my boyfriend believed in me and more importantly, I believed in myself. That was the beginning of my real driving adventure. P.S. I totally blame my dad for my initial humiliation/phobia and for not driving for twenty-five years. Just sayin……