by Lillian Csernica on January 16, 2015
In 1987 I was in a car accident that left me for dead on Interstate 5 in the middle of the night. I spent a week in the hospital, then months recovering.
Two months after the accident, my boyfriend asked me to marry him. I agreed, and worked three different jobs to help pay for our wedding. This meant driving, something I had no desire to do ever again. I stayed off the freeways, but I did it.
A few years after we got married, we donated my old used car to charity. That meant our only vehicle was the one my husband drove to work every day. If I wanted to go anywhere while he was at work, I walked or took public transportation (the bus).
For years now I have resisted the idea of getting another car. At times it’s been a financial issue. We did have to invest in a van equipped with a lift so we could transport Michael to his various medical appointments. At other times, it’s just been a matter of my bone deep reluctance to get behind the wheel again. There are a lot of crazy people on the roads these days.
This forced me to rely on my husband, my mother, my sister, or a friend when I needed a ride somewhere. I felt like I was in high school again. People kept telling me I needed to get over this fear of driving and just do it. It’s so easy for people to say something like that when they’re not living inside the anxiety, especially anticipatory anxiety. That kind of fear puts a real dent in rational thinking.
My husband and I have had more than one loud, hurtful argument about what a “burden” I’ve been to everyone around me because of my “selfishness” about driving myself around. This resulted in me not going out at all except when I absolutely had to, or when a friend and I spent time together. My depression got worse.
It’s horrible to be caught between relentless fear and the ongoing hostility and judgment from the people I look to for support. With family or total strangers, the bottom line remains the same: I can’t change them. The only person I can change is myself.
Today is a day of celebration. Today I got angry enough to shove my fears aside, go to a used car dealer, and find a car we could afford, one that suits my needs and makes me feel both comfortable and happy.
Today I crossed a big bridge in my life, a bridge that leads to freedom, to independence, and to better mental health.