Oh look.....it's time for another b+ TBT! Be encouraged!
Monday, October 10, 2005
When Fear Cripples
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, " I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along ." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.- Eleanor Roosevelt
About eight years ago I had a particularly bad series of events involving car accidents. Within a year and a half I was in three accidents...all of them almost 6 months to the day of each other. One accident is bad enough....but three.......it was bad.
The first was during a snow storm. My brother's birthday was the next day so I rushed out to the store to pick up the item I had been waiting till th last minute to get. While I was in the store it began to snow. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, living in New England you learn quickly how to drive in bad weather. The store I was at however as at the top of a very steep hill and surrounded by busy streets. I had an old Volvo with semi-bad tires and the snow was still fresh....so sand on the road, no plow had been by yet.
As I crept over the top of the hill on the long four lane driveway and edged my way down the slippery pavement I suddenly saw my worst fear. A car had spun out and sat sideways completely blocking my lane. The driver had shut off his car, gotten out and was looking at his front tires. In the lane to my direct left was another car and in each of the two lanes coming up the hill was a car. I couldn't possibly swerve into another lane without causing another accident. My only out was to turn hard to the right and try to jump the curb and go down another steep hill into a parking lot about 30 feet below. So as I picked up speed sliding faster and faster towards the other car I did just that. To my surprise though the curb was too high and instead of removing myself from the potential accident I in fact spun out sideways and slid down even faster to hit the stopped car lengthwise.
Six months later I was on my way to work one morning. I had a cold and was continually having to blow my nose so I kept a tiny box of kleenex within easy reach. I was an assistant manager of a pet store at that time so I was in a hurry to get to work and open up for the day. In front of me for almost the entire drive was a particularly elderly gentleman in a mini van who was very careful to remain within the exact speed limit. Every block or so he would brake to slow back down to 35mph. I kept a good two car distance between us just because he made me nervous and the last thing I wanted was another accident. As we kept our slow and steady pace I cranked up my radio in an attempt to destress myself. Suddenly I needed a kleenex. I reached down to where I kept them but couldn't find the box. I felt around some more...still nothing. Finally in desparation I looked down and grabbed one. In that instant the man in front braked yet again and in the micro seconds that I started to look back up, I hit him full force. Totalling my car, sending me to the hospital and putting me out of work for a couple of weeks.
Fast forward yet another six months. My then boyfriend and I were taking some people home after church. A young teenager from the church youth group and my friend. I had organized us by who would be getting out first. So the teenager was in the front seat and my friend and I were in the backseat of his tiny hatchback. As we all laughed and talked we came to the street of the first drop off. Suddenly from behind a car full of teenagers careened into us at full speed miraculously stopping just short of encasing my friend and I into the back seat.
After those accidents I didn't drive for two years. I was too afraid to. I didn't even like getting into a car with others. When I did get in a car it was with much apprehension and constant fear of every little thing. I changed jobs to a store that was on a direct bus route and avoided going out with people other than my boyfriend as much as possible, and walked as many places as I could. I was living in a prison of fear. It was understandable of course....those things were traumatic experiences for me so when I told people I didn't drive and explained why they understood and sympathized. One woman I worked with was even in the same place and stopped driving years earlier because her sister had been killed tragically in a car.
Over time however I began to miss the degree of freedom I had once had. I missed being able to just pick up and go for a drive in the country or not having to wait in two feet of snow for an extra 45 minutes because the bus was running behind. I saw the woman I worked with through new eyes. She was about 30 years older than me and she had become completely dependent on others because of her fear and I didn't want to end up like that. I had come to the point that I realized....it was time. I had to face my fear head on with no looking back.
It was terrifying at first....and I drove like a 95 year old for a while....but each time I got behind that wheel it got easier. Eventually I reached the point that the fear was totally gone.
Fear comes in many shapes and sizes.....but whatever it is that you fear, I pray you get to the point that you can face it head on and say, "I have lived through this terror, I can take the next thing that comes along."