Saturday, 15 October 2011

stalled (again)

Hello Saturday morning. This is a long one perhaps grab a coffee and a croissant and settle in.

Bro and a bearded Papa with Dold (gold) car circa 1988 (maybe) - I told you dear brother I had many a photo of you.

Today is going to be busy but I wanted to get my thoughts about driving out of the way otherwise I will surely ruminate all night.

I wanted to keep this journal for me but if the emails and tweets I am getting are anything to go by there are so many other men and women (admittedly mostly women) in my position who are just as scared as me. This is definitely not about me showing off. How could it be, when I think I'm a idiot for not doing all of this at 17. I can't do something most of you do without thinking.

I guess I have no real reason for being so scared of driving. Many of you have very good reasons not to drive. I am not going to try and force you drive. I know how ill it makes me feel. (So perhaps you could donate blood). However I am not understating it when I tell you how deep my fight or flight response is. But I have climbed behind the wheel twice. For me this is epic. I honestly never thought it would be possible. I'm not kidding, if I you had said I would have spent 3 and 1/2 hours behind the wheel 2 weeks ago I would have laughed. It was inconceivable.

The key (to starting) appears to be finding the right instructor. I've told him how scared I am and today on my second lesson he twigged that one of my issues was I like to be good at things. I berate myself when I can't do something the first time. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this instructor has me sussed. I am a psychological open book. 

Perhaps the route (ha root) of my anxiety is the anxiety itself. I've had 29 years to worry about driving. I'm not saying learning to drive is easy - it's not. I am not even close to understanding the clutch but I am close to thinking I might actually be able to learn. Again for me this is epic. It is knowing that even though I'm not getting things right on my first go, I am not a failure. I'm learning - it's the whole point. They don't stick a giant sign on top of the car and have dual control of nothing. The fact I am trying and facing one of my greatest fears is what I should try to be proud of.* It is an irrational fear to some extent but the symptoms of my fear are very real.

So the lesson. We started from basics once again. Perhaps I should be talking more about the physical aspects of driving? But I am well aware I have no clue so don't listen to my actual driving advice.

I think this week I stalled less (maybe?) although I actually don't mind stalling. I thought it would be the most epic of fails but I am still only on tiny roads. Perhaps when all eyes are on me I may feel somewhat different! I just need to learn to work the accelerator a little more. I fear the accelerator because it's the one that I think can kill.

Also I think I've released the clutch far before it actually is released - must learn to take things more slowly. There is no hurry. Also I need to work out how much brake to apply. I'm fine if the road is flat but we twist and turn, up and down in my practice area and so that's another learning "curve" all in itself.

I had my lesson slightly later in the day and was acutely aware of school children gaily frolicking in the roads. Indeed as I was waiting (yes I'm slow - but I'm a learner so it's okay) to make a right turn a lorry overtook me and almost took out a child on a bike. Seriously is your destination that important? 

So on today's list of "achievements" are left turns, right turns, tiny hill starts, one set of traffic lights and a mini roundabout. Said lights were at a main road crossroads. That was a scary moment. I was actually on a proper road with actual people. 

I certainly wasn't looking forward to the lesson but I didn't have the ominous symptoms save a little light nausea and an almost tachycardia. I didn't enjoy adjusting the seat and trying to remember to check my blind spot. However, I'm pretty sure I didn't hate every second. Indeed, I notice I've actually talked about the driving far more than the fear and my feelings. I am making progress. Do not fret, I shan't be getting cocky.

So progress people, this be good. The instructor thinks I should book my theory test (£31) and get that done so I can book my actual test (up to £75). Ha! One step at a time, crazy man. (Although he has a point. The waiting time for the actual test is about 4 months.)

And you know what, and I really cannot believe I'm about to say this, I may actually be looking forward to next week's lesson. I'm sure I'll take that back on Wednesday morn. Perhaps "looking forward" is too strong a sentiment - perhaps resigned to the fact I need to continue is more appropriate.

Now that first sentence is serious progress. Let's ignore the other bits, let's be positive for a change. Huzzah.

*Indeed the brain man felt I should be proud and I may have misheard him but I am sure he said he was proud of me too. It is hard to face something that scares us so very much. Eek! (Although I probably shouldn't be courting approval)


  1. Oh my word, I know how you feel. It took me 5 attempts to pass my test because I had such huge anxiety surrounding driving. I had to take my theory test three times, passing with room to spare each time but it only lasts two years and kept running out. Even once I had passed the test I became too scared to drive without someone in the passanger seat so put it off for many years, not driving at all in that time. In the end, and with a very patient partner to help me I started to crack the whole driving problem. I got myself a two seater smart car which really suited me as a massive part of my anxiety was around parking so this virtually eliminated that issue. There was no stopping me!

    I was massivley proud of myself everytime I went a bit further, and a bit further again, eventually driving from Bristol to Leeds and back, on my own, in the dark and fog.

    I'm sure it will take time as anxiety can't be tackled overnight but with a supportive instructor YOU CAN DO IT!!


  2. I feel quite proud of you too - that's quite a lot to have achieved in one lesson (and I mean that!) How many lessons have you had?

    I'm sure that little by little, you will get there, already you've made huge leaps. Keep going!

  3. I'm still completely petrified. Sitting there going with my head going "make it stop, make it stop!" but hopefully my third lesson will change things.

    Hmm, seeing as the thought of tomorrow makes my tummy twirl - I'm guessing not!


So, I really love all the sweet and/or informative comments that you lovelies leave. Yet if you feel the need to be unnecessarily rude or offensive I will delete your comment and not feel bad about it. So just be constructive alright! Hugs to all you wondrous others.


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