Imagine you are sitting in the drivers seat of your car. The feel of the seat under your legs. Your feet resting on the floor. Your right foot is hovering over the gas pedal. You are thinking about 20 different things…work, should you get a coffee now or when you arrive? does your shirt really go with your shoes? and so on. You grab your keys and put the key in the ignition. You turn the key and the roar of the engine comes alive. As you turn your head back and forth looking around you. Your hand reaches up and grabs your seatbelt and pulls it across your chest to click it into place. Your right-hand grabs the gear shifter and your finger presses the button and the car is shifted into reverse. Your eyes, drift up to the rear view mirror. What do you see? You are expecting to see the back seat, the rear window, make sure nothing is behind you.
What you really see is your reflection. Your eyes. Your nose. Your hair. Your mouth. That is what you see, a reflection of yourself.
The day I took my Independence back.
It was the night before, I asked Steve to help me with something. I have been thinking about this for a few weeks. Every time, I think about doing this one easy thing that I have done since I was 16 years old. My heart rate increases, my pupils dilate, and I start to shake. I can’t breathe, I can feel the wave of fear that starts at my feet and goes up my body. I knew that I needed to get behind the wheel of the car again. I knew that I needed to drive again. I desperately want my life back, and this is one key point. He agreed to help me, “I’ll do whatever you need, anything to help you” The question that I asked Steve:
“I want my independence back, will you help me?”
I was mid afternoon, I had just spoken with my best friend Jessica and told her of my plan and my fears. She was very supportive and told me exactly what I needed to hear. She also reminded of a few things:
- You need to do this to be able to move forward
- The best way to get over your fears, face them
- I could do it.
I sat on the side of my bed, shaking, tears running down my face. I could not breathe. I was crying to hard I could no longer keep it quiet. Steve rushed into the room to see what was wrong. I could not even talk. My brain kept telling me how stupid this was, I could not make my body understand. The fear had taken over me, I was paralyzed with fear. I looked up at him through red eyes, and finally, after a few minutes, my lips started to move and sound came out “I don’t know if I can do this” He looked at me and with a jerk of his shoulder said, “yes, you can”.
He helped me to the front door. He held my hand has I went down each step of the front porch. My hands were slick with sweat, and they were shaking as held the handles of my crutches. I could feel and hear every lub dub of my beating heart. I stopped a few times on the short walk to the driveway. Steve stood at my side and encouraged me to keep going.
I stood at the driver’s door of my car, took a deep breath. My brain kept telling me to keep going, but my body would not allow me to. I started to cry again. The beep-beep of the locks made be jump just a little. I opened the door and looked inside the car.
I knew the first step was to sit behind the wheel. I had done it thousands and thousands of times before. Over the past 10 weeks, I have been in a car several times and being in the passenger seat did not affect me the way this was.
After several minutes, and some hysterical crying I was finally able to sit in the drivers seat, with one leg out of the car still on the ground. My foot was an anchor that kept me safe. I sat there, the fear enveloped my whole body every fiber of my being was reliving the accident. I could smell the burning of the wires, the acrid smell of the air bag. I could hear the metal twisting, and crunching, the popping of the glass. I could feel the fear of being trapped. I could not stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks.
I just kept saying over and over “I was better than this.” and “I can do this”. My eyes were telling me that I was in the driveway. Steve was standing next to me, holding the door open. He was reminding me that I was “ok”.
I don’t know how long I sat there before I was able to calm myself.
Once I could breathe normally, and I was able to focus on my car. I was able to take the key that was sitting in my lap and put it into the ignition. I was able to turn it enough to roll the windows down and let the wind blow through. I was another bit of time before I was able to move my leg and be completely in the car.
I was crying. I wanted all of this to stop. I wanted my independence back. This was the first step in doing that.
After many minutes, I was able to calm myself down. I talked myself down. I was able to reach for the key and turn it completely to the on position. The roar of the engine, made me jump just a little.
We sat in the car with the windows down, the engine running. I had tears running down my face…this is what I was thinking.
This is what happens when you drink and drive. This is what happens to a good person when bad people make terrible choices. This is what happens to people when friends let you drink and drive.
I am better than this.
We sat in the car for what seemed like 5 hours, in reality, it was just 20 minutes that Steve and I sat together in the car. We did not move. We did not even put the car in drive. We simply sat and that was enough for me. I don’t know how I could have done that without Steve.
It’s the first step on a long path…