Driving Phobia & Walking for Tilda

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On Saturday 11th May, I got up at 6:30 and got two sleepy but acquiescent boys dressed and into the car. (Thank you Remus, for getting up to load the double buggy, several bags of spare clothes, snacks and lots of violins while I grabbed a cappuccino!). This sounds simple enough but for me, it was no mean feat: I have suffered for a long time from being massively driving-phobic. Despite having passed my test over two years ago and having some sporadic driving success for one year of that, even short journeys for me can involve delaying tactics, finding excuses to use public transport, and should I get in the car, usually some shaking and crying. Nevertheless, I had put this date in the diary a long time ago and it, being pretty inaccessible without a car, seemed the perfect goal to aim for to overcome my fears. I’ve driven on and off for two years but when even a successful 160 mile stint to Cornwall didn’t cure me I lost all hope of ever being a “real” driver. But finally, I had something to drive to, where the destination was key, where getting there, and showing up on time and in one piece meant more to me than clinging on to my fear. And it seemed to work! My phobia came to a head a few weeks before when I found myself on my sofa, twenty minutes before nursery pick-up time, sobbing into my hands like a baby, unable to get in the car and drive the three minutes down the road to pick up my boys in the pouring rain. My lovely, safe, responsive Audi A4 S line sat right outside my flat. It was dark, windy and thrashing rain and I cried and cried and beat myself up mentally for even considering walking 15 minutes with the buggy out of fear of driving two blocks in a straight line down the road. I couldn’t believe it had come to this! And I knew that in a few short weeks I WAS going to drive to Ashford and be there for Jennie and Matilda Mae. I just didn’t know how. So I sobbed with my face in my hands for maybe twenty minutes, hating myself out-loud. I looked at this for a long time on my pinterest board:

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And then, at 5 minutes to 6pm, I got up, took out my keys and drove to nursery. My knees shook, my heart raced, I fucked up my parking. But I did it. I had got the most afraid I could be and I overrode it. And the next week I drove to Knightsbridge and picked my husband up from Heathrow (I shook a bit, but I didn’t cry 😉 ). And the week after I drove to Watford for work and drove my colleague to Cheltenham for a gig and home again. So I knew I could do it. But the night before the walk, my husband still asked me, “Are you sure you’re OK to do this?” And even I was surprised how confidently I answered, “YES”.

Because I’ve never been more committed to being somewhere I had promised to be, my phobia didn’t stand a chance! I planned my route on google maps. I zoomed in on street-view and obsessed over which lane to take when. I worried about my first toll-booth experience on the Dartford Bridge. But nothing was going to stop me getting in that car and getting me and my kids to The Rare Breeds Centre in Kent for the Mile in Memory of Matilda Mae Walk!

In the end I drove like crap. I went twice round a couple of roundabouts. I got lost once and had to stop and heard a lot of “re-calculating, re-calculating…” from the sat-nav stern-voice lady. But who cares, I made it! And it was so worth it! My next post recounts the day in full, read on….

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8 thoughts on “Driving Phobia & Walking for Tilda

  1. Thank you you lovely lady. Thank you for being brave and for getting to us to share our day x Thank you for doing this for Matilda Mae x I am also scared of driving. A fear that has grown worse since Tilda died. I need to be brave and face my fear as you did x Thank you x Come again soon x x x x

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  2. Oh I will definitely come again, we have to have that dinner! I totally understand your fear, but yours is based on having been through a traumatic experience of loss, whereas mine just is based on being a gigantic douche! Oh well, I had to get over it some time and this gave me the perfect excuse… I’ve done it once I can do it again, let’s have dinner! I will have to stay down though so I can have my wine! 😉 xx

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    • I used a hypnotherapy download by Paul McKenna (on the phobia section of his website, called “Driving”, I think it cost around £14.99) to get through my test and passed third time after crying before and after every lesson (over three years!). But it IS finally getting better and it’s so worth being able to get places warm and dry and with all your kids/stuff! Don’t give up!! If I can do it, you can! P.S. I passed while pregnant with my second baby and used yoga birth-breathing to keep calm on the day! It worked a treat 🙂 Good luck!x

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  3. I hate driving too! And I’m worse since I had the children. I hate driving in the dark especially. I haven’t driven in a motorway for years and now only drive very locally. I’d love to be one of those people that could wake up in the morning and say ‘I’m going to go to…..today’ and just get in the car and go. Before SATNAV, if I had to drive any distance (say for a work course) I used to have endless post it notes stuck on the dashboard with every single step of the journey on it, to whip off each one as I did it! I hate, hate, hate roundabouts and slip roads!! xx

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    • Meant to add too that I put off doing so much if it involves driving and I will stress about it for days before if it is unavoidable. I passed my test 13 years ago too!! I’m just glad my hubby is happy to drive all the time when we go out as a family!!

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  4. Pingback: Alcohol Free ’till February – Update! | Coco&Co.

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