A little fact known about me is the fact that I am a licensed driver. It was something that over three years ago decided to do on a whim. I was blessed with a good instructor and a host of knowledge to pass my road test. While many autistics cannot fathom the idea of driving an automobile, some cannot, and while I pursued what I thought was unimaginable to do, I did. I haven’t really taken it much further because, like many autistics, it seems scary and hard to do.
The anxiety of having a driver’s license was one of those things that sort of made me ill at the stomach. That was the reason I continued down the slippery slope of meddling with my medication for so long. I was under the impression that if I didn’t medicate I couldn’t drive. Yes, driving is a responsibility that I take seriously, but that doesn’t mean that it comes with heightened anxiety and fear of doing so. I know I can do anything I put my mind to, but it is scary for me to even ponder getting behind the wheel. I did it because I was smart and could excel at it. But the sense of freedom brought a sense to me that I didn’t want to process, because it brought unwanted territory that I never got to experience.
I had fear of doors opening up from what I knew was comfortable in my world. So, I took a back seat and didn’t take care of myself for some time. Then, the situation of my independence was beginning to shatter, combined with COVID it seemed as I took several steps back from where I once was. I was and continue to be anxious about a new sense of freedom. Having that freedom I know comes with a price, but can I mentally handle it? That is what I am unsure of.
I know indeed to get some more experience behind the wheel because only driving a handful of times in the past three years has been rusty at best. It is in my best interest that getting some experience behind the wheel is best, so that if the need arises, I can do so. Having a driver’s license in a mostly rural county can open so many doors and I know I cannot jump from point A to Z all of a sudden. I glimpse in a thought of the opportunities that it can present me, if given to me. That sense of freedom that can go beyond two feet is one of the best feelings that one can have, I know it.
Then, lies the fear, and it cripples me, because I catastrophize all the things that COULD go wrong. While they likely do not happen to me in the course of operating a vehicle from point A to B and sometimes C, it lies within my memory banks and cripples my ability to see past all the fear and see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.I know, as with many things that are unknown to me, that once I fight the anxiety and do them, I feel comfortable and am like a pro.
One of those skills that I have mastered, and almost 12 years later I seem to be in a good place with it is the ability to cold call when I do not know what the outcome will be. It was one of those things that crippled me severely and I would put off routinely as it was the course of my work. Calling somewhere and getting an unlikely or unwanted answer was a fear in me that I had to fight and sort of roll with the punches. It took me many years and many things to become seasoned at this skill. As many of my job’s duties have transitioned over the recent years due to the standard way of how things are operated, mostly for the better, the struggle has lessened over time.
Just like that and many of the other struggles that I have face in my life, they eventually become better and result in a more manageable sense of understanding. As I celebrate my third anniversary of being a licensed driver, I must remember that the fear partly made me hit rock bottom and that I can rebuild from where I left off. Will it happen today, no. But, the sights are in the future and hopefully I will experience that freedom that I will be so glad that I made that one move three years ago and diid. It will make me realize more that I am smarter than I think.