Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Wrong Turns

Realizing that I have not yet explained how much of a pain getting my license was...

Let's do that now.

The first test went wrong for a number of reasons.  

For one, it happened that the guy looked like an almost-assailant of mine, was WAY too cocky, and in general pretty obviously hated women.  
That was fun.  

I felt remarkably unsafe. 

He was also very vague. 

Like, Dude, don't say "Sunday driver…" without specifying if I am being one, or should be. 

He claimed I was speeding and gave me a mockingly presented pop quiz at the end.  
I'm a pretty cautious driver for obvious reasons, so no, I was not speeding at any point.  
He also told me I was way too cautious.  
THAT one, I'll believe. 

He wouldn't even look at my mother, who had to basically chase him down to ask if I passed. 
His response?  "She needs work."

After about a month of me never wanting to try again, my well meaning parents sent me off with an instructor about two weekends before my second road test. 

To clarify, I did pass it on the third try.

This particular driving lesson went so poorly that it ended with my sobbing hysterically.  

Oddly enough, not at all due to driving.

Before we even started, I got a call from the driving instructor-man saying that he was looking on google, but couldn't figure out where my house was.  

I did my best to explain, to which he responded, "I KNOW the area." 

...Like, okay dude.  If you know the area, why are you having a problem? 
The houses are clearly numbered and otherwise it's kind of just us and deer, but whatever.

Anyway, he came to the house to pick me up and drove the car to the lot where he would, in theory, have me drive. 

Again, the driving was not the part that flipped me out.

In fact, the only driving he had me do initially, was weaving around parking spaces. 

I did this while he occasionally slapped my hand, not entirely explaining why, and then saying things like, "You looking to get slapped??" and "You wanna get hit, dontcha??" and then laughing, like this is a funny thing to say after I've already told him that, no, seriously, I'm a survivor of abuse and that's kinda entirely triggering, so please don't.

He tried to fix it by saying I could slap him back, and then holding out his hand and forcing me to slap it, even after I told him that it made me reeeaaaallllly uncomfortable. 
Also, fun fact, I have cartilage where there should be bone in my wrist. 
REALLY hurts when hit, even as a light slap. 

Also, grabbing my hand is a terrible plan because of that. 

Just sayin'.

Still did not cry here.

That part was all preempted by him saying, "I'm going to be a male, chauvinist pig for a second," and then just asking me really politely if I know how they train for football. 

Dude, you wouldn't have come across as a jackass if you had just asked the question or talked about the training outright, without announcing that you are, in fact, a jackass.

I must have done something right though, as he then had me go on to phase two. 
Keep in mind, the first HOUR of instruction was him driving around town mumbling things as he thought of them, calling this a "demo" like that would at all be helpful to me. 

I chalked it up to the fact that he is probably eight thousand years old.

Part two involved him making me FLOOR the gas and then wait until he told me to STOMP on the break. 

Everything about this was terrifying and extremely dangerous, yet I managed to not cry at this point. 

I did, however, consider calling someone to pick me up, or just the police, because clearly I was trapped in a car with a lunatic.

He said this was to teach me what it felt like, in case it ever happened. 
…Wouldn't I know what it felt like if I ever had to do it? 

And yet still, I had not cried.

At this point, he decides I'm ready to drive home. 
Two hours have almost passed, and I have done NOTHING that I wanted to do, such as things that are actually on the road test.

By telling me I'm going to drive home, what he meant was that my feet would control the gas and break, but his hands would never leave the steering wheel… 

So, this old man is like, draped across my freaking lap to control the car, questioning why I'm trying to fight him when we are veering on top of the line on my side, and otherwise coasting with the wheel RIGHT next to the line… 

I'm just waiting for the left mirror to get clipped off, really.

THIS is when I start crying. 

A lot. 

He tells me not to be embarrassed, and that HE isn't scared. 
If he was scared, after all, he wouldn't have let me drive home.

…He didn't see me doing ANY driving. 
And I did NOT care if he was scared, nor was I embarrassed.

He also used the word "angsty" when I asked to pull over.

I explained to him that I was afraid of getting hit, and that was why I was crying. 
He told me not to be afraid, and that no one was going to rear end us. 
I explained that, no, I was afraid of HIM hitting me.

I felt unsafe IN the car.

He laughed. 
Then he said he was sorry and that he didn't mean to make fun of me. 

I don't even know what he meant by that.

By the time we got home, he decided not to let me do the parking in front of Rob's car, and to instead demo how easy it is.  

He did what could only be described as a twenty point turn, and actually backed into Rob's car.

There was no damage, though the license plate did make a satisfying pop noise, as if to say, "HA, you asshole."
EDIT: No, his license plate did actually pop off soon after.

He then proceeded to tell me that he'd be calling my mother to tell her I did a great job (I’m a grown ass woman.  I'll call my own damn mother) and he let me know that I'm totally not ready for the test and I would fail it if I took it now.

…Gee, thanks, guy-who-didn't-see-me-drive-and-instead-just-freaked-me-out.

Our interaction ended when he reminded me that we had been together for two hours and that his price is $35 an hour, but that I could pay any time, and he's not worried.

I told him I didn't think I could handle another day of that right away, and that I wanted to cancel the 9:30 for the next morning, but maybe see him for a three point turn and parallel parking sometime next weekend.

He looked at me like I was a moron, handed me a piece of paper that reads "How to parallel park for the road test" and then said he'd see me at 9:30 the next day.

I went upstairs. 

Rob was taking a nap, as he still wasn't feeling well all weekend. 
I tried to hook a right to the bedroom, and instead flopped down on the floor by the door and just started ugly-sobbing.

There was so much snot.

Rob didn't wake up, but Perry recognized the sound of hysterical tears, and so burst through his doorway with a box of tissues.

I literally cried on Perry's shoulder for a half hour. 
He's a trooper, really.

Rob woke up around then, and I had calmed down enough to be coherent about what had happened. 
This was a good thing, as Rob's instinct was to panic and think I was in some way physically hurt.

I was still hyperventilating every now and then, but not to the point of a full blown panic attack.

I contacted my parents, explained what happened, and they laughed at me, telling me to suck it up. 

Rob then called my mother (Why is everyone calling my mom for me??) to explain that we would not be seeing the man again. 

My parents then said, "OH!  We're sorry.  We just thought she was exaggerating and being dramatic.  We didn't realize she was actually upset!" because my word means nothing.

…This may explain how my life has gone the way it has, actually.

So, Rob took over helping me polish everything up, driving wise, though I was kind of a wreck all Sunday. 
Rob and Perry are both endlessly patient.

For the record, I did not pay the driving instructor man.
EDIT: My parents still paid him.

I did sort of get an apology from the driving man, through him calling my mother (he did have MY number, but whatever) and saying that he was sorry he upset me.  

He figured it was because of the gas and break exercise.

While that was stupid and dangerous, it was not at all what freaked me out. 

Which, you know… I told him.

In detail. 


I swear I told him what the problem was.

Is there just something about me that completely invalidates
everything I say about my own anxieties?  Because what the Hell?

*Ahem* So.

Good times.

In any case, I was pre-freaked out for the second test based on that instructor and the first time I took the test, so I actually went SO SLOWLY that I had trouble getting up a hill. 

The third one I actually passed, and I wonder how much of that was due to the fact that
A. I just gave no shits anymore. I just wanted it done forever, and
B. the person grading was a woman about my size. 

There is something extra creepy about being a survivor and then being trapped in a car with an older man and having to take all of his orders.  

In essence, that was what the test was for me over and over. 

BUT it's done.  



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Driving the Point Home

A question was posed in my Psychopharmacology class that I felt merited some consideration on my part.  

We were talking about why someone might fail to take their medication, or continue to say they're having significant problems when they aren’t.  
The question was “What is the gain from remaining sick?”  
This can obviously be answered in many ways, depending on the circumstance.

I began to think about this in terms of my own life and my own struggles with my fears and with a failure to drive. 

 If I don't try, I can't fail, right? 

This logic never worked in any other area of my life, so I'm not sure why I thought it would with driving, other than the fact that I did mostly have other ways around. 

Let's face it. 

I don't leave my home very often, and would generally prefer to be some kind of happy recluse, but I understand that this isn't a reasonable possibility. 

I also feel guilty now that I don't live by a bus line and occasionally need to carpool or outright ask people for rides, as I can't currently afford to take cabs everywhere while in the unpaid internship... 

In any case, I've been attempting and mostly failing to prioritize my health, and instead I've been obsessing over something that is generally not seen as a big deal. 

More than that, it is generally seen as a wonderful thing. 

For me personally, passing the test means that I now don't have to retake the permit test, which would have been embarrassing. 

I don't have to have the strange looks when I have a non-driver ID instead. 
I don't have to have anyone questioning how I function in life, just because they are too unimaginative to think of living without a car in my situation. 

I wanted to be proud of myself too, but I'm having trouble with that. 

I think the issue is that I really had no desire to do it at all, so rather than feeling accomplished, I just feel like I gave in. 

I did this thing that I had no desire to do, just because someone else told me to do it. 


How much of my life has been like that? 

Still, having passed is great, if only for the wait for the next one to now be gone forever. 

The pressure each time was slowly killing me. 

It became everything. 

It took over every aspect of my life with the sheer power of not-want. 

I just don't want to think about it anymore. 

Passing means I don't have to worry about the test, but now I have the car I can't afford, the insurance, the upkeep, the responsibility, and the assumption that I will drive. 

Now, it has become an issue if I do have the audacity to ask for help. 

After all, I can drive. 

Everyone involved seems to think passing the test has immediately cured me of my not-want. 

It did not, just as doing any other terrible thing forever doesn't automatically make people Stockholm-syndrome themselves into loving the thing. 

Now, I just have more questions, more pressure, and I fear that I'll wind up on the side of the road sobbing and hysterical, missing my appointments that were otherwise never an issue to get to on time. 

I guess any lingering depression winds up more apparent when it's on me, rather than being able to say, "Well, better get going so my ride doesn't get upset."  

I feel like I'm constantly letting everyone down either way, or that there is something significant wrong with me, beyond all the things that have actually made my life harder. 

It's frustrating to note that the things I actually want to work on and struggle with are somehow not good enough to those around me. 

I fully realize that I am not those people, but some solidarity would be nice. 

I have found myself falling from pushing on and through and up, to just wanting to be left alone to rot. 

Of course, my Knight in Pinstripes and my very good friends ARE supportive and would never let me do that to myself, as much as I may try. 

Still, this is upsetting because I understand that it has all been hinged on this idea of having a car and driving and freedom in this lonely, expensive, wasteful death machine. 

Again, Rob is all for carpooling and is steady in his belief that I should not have to drive if I do not want to. 

He generally believes I shouldn't do ANYTHING that I don't want to do, but again, that means I would do... pretty much nothing. 


Sometimes, I pretend that I want to drive. 
Sometimes, I pretend that I am already someone who drives. 

It is a fun fantasy, but ultimately leaves me feeling empty, realizing I am lying to myself because I feel like I am worth less than I would be as a driver. 

I feel like while I've been told I am not, I must certainly be a burden, and something to be ashamed of. 

Otherwise, why would any of this have come up at all? I wind up wallowing in everything else I've been trying to fix, just to have this barrier of, “No, look. I'm too sick. I can't drive because I'm too sick.” 

I've been self sabotaging and ruining so much of my health, both physical and mental, in an effort to convince those around me that I am sick enough to not do this one thing that I have never done before anyway. 

All that having been said, I did face my fears. 

And now, I have it, whether I ever use it or not. 

These are things I CAN be proud of, because they were important to my growth as a person. 

That is the most important part.

And... I actually do like the car.  Well, when it starts up, anyway.  

I call it The Grey Ghost, and I understand that my aversion to driving is not the car's fault. 

...My tendency to personify objects a bit probably doesn't help the guilt though. 

Just sayin'.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why I Broke Up With Counseling

Years ago, I felt like my life was over.

I had a long road to walk before I learned to pick up the pieces.

Well meaning people around me decided that rather than simply finding a way to still do the thing that I loved, I should just drop all of that and do something else entirely.

What was picked for me was Counseling.

I looked at this thing that was supposed to give my life meaning, and felt empty. I assumed I was the one at fault, not it.

Every now and then, I'd run off to my true passion, and I'd find myself feeling really guilty about it.

I felt selfish, because I was supposed to find meaning in being a therapist... Yet it wasn't happening.


And Counseling just kept screaming nonsense at me, so I put it with all the other stressors.

Of course, I kept getting new ones from people too,
and others just wandered in on their own...

They all looked kind of the same, so it was hard to tell which were important and which were really not. As a result, I treated each as equally important.

I ended up neglecting the ones I had put there myself.

This means that eventually, I was taking care of EVERYTHING else...

...until I stopped caring for myself at all.


Like I said, I felt guilty and selfish for not paying every ounce of attention to the ones other people told me were necessary and important.

How far down did I have to go before I realized what I was doing to myself??


I was right that it wasn't fair...
but I was wrong about which party was being neglected and hurt.

I blamed myself.


It was hard because I didn't want it. ...but being a therapist is tough even when people DO want it.

So, that couldn't be my fault, right?

Trying to fake it was exhausting at best, and depressing when I realized I still hadn’t tricked myself.

I felt guilty drawing.


As that was my main source of feeling like a real person again, it was a shame to stop.

I wanted to be passionate and to love Counseling, because I thought that all good people naturally want to do that... but not only is that untrue, it was unfair.

I've had enough crappy therapists to know that. Besides, you can't fake love and passion.

Being “good” at it didn't mean it was good for me, much like any other one sided relationship.

Finally, I looked at Counseling again.

I moved it to see what life was like without it.

I found that I felt lighter.

Away from me, I could analyze its true use, and realize that I was not the best person to take care of it.

Counseling was fine without me too.

I'm still surrounded by stressors, but some are welcome.


Others are a real necessity, and I'll continue weeding out the ones that aren't.

It has even freed up space so that I can get back to my physical health.

I've already had less panic about eating, and I actually enjoy the gym again.


The take away here is that guilt is never a good reason to live life for someone other than yourself.

I am ready to start finding out who I really am.