Like most American teens I got my driver’s license on my sixteenth birthday. And like most American teens I was eager to use the family car as much as possible. Unlike most of those teens, though, I got my wish. Barely two months after my authorization as a certified driver my mother was laid up for a couple of weeks. The responsibility for the family errands fell upon me.
My mother’s car was available for the task and when I settled in the driver’s seat I was full of pride at my new status. As they say, however, pride goes before a fall and on one of my first excursions I side-swiped a parked car as I was leaving the supermarket.
No one was physically hurt. The woman whose car I hit could not have been more gracious or kind. All the damage was covered by the insurance. Everything was fine except for my emotional state.
Oh, I got back on the horse, so to speak, just like I was supposed to. I continued to do errands but it was no longer enjoyable. I’d lost my love of driving and was happy to turn the steering wheel over to anyone else at all times.
If I’d been born in this century instead of the last one I probably would have been sent for counseling. Instead my phobia was ignored by everyone, including myself. I never gave up on driving altogether. Being that I lived in places where public transportation left a lot to be desired driving was too much of a necessity.
Then we moved to Israel and the reckless drivers, traffic jams, and winding roads made me finally limit my driving to the little village where we lived. After eighteen years something changed. My middle daughter got her license. A good driver, she eagerly took to the road and I was inspired. If she could do it, so could I.
And I did. Oh, I never drove to truly heavy traffic areas but I became quite adventurous until the day my youngest daughter flipped the car over when taking a curve. Thankfully, she was okay but the car was totaled and I was traumatized.
That was six years ago and she drives everywhere full of confidence. I, on the other hand, narrowed my boundaries to thirty kilometers or less in any direction from my home. Recently, though, I began to chafe at the restrictions I’d put upon myself. A friend does TAT therapy and did a session on me.
I don’t know if it was the therapy that helped or just my desire to break out of my limitations, but I’m broadening my horizons. My first step was when a friend agreed to chaperone me as I drove to the closest Jerusalem suburb. I did it without freaking out and now going to the Holy City is so much easier than it once was.
Step number two was when my husband returned form America on a Friday morning. The person most available to pick him up was me. With tons of resolve I got in the car and drove all the way to Ben Gurion all by myself. It felt good.
My biggest step happened just this past week. There was Grandmother’s Day at my oldest granddaughter’s school in Itamar. Itamar is a picturesque village full of lovely people but the quickest way to get there from Shilo is through Hawara. Hawara is not a pleasant place. Townspeople have been known to hurl boulders at passing cars.
Pedestrians rarely pay attention to crosswalks and stroll from one side of the main road to the next without checking for traffic. If that’s not enough, I’ve seen lazy drivers pull out of side streets and enter the lane of oncoming traffic to make a quick left turn.
Hawara has been my Achilles heel for years. I’ve talked about driving through it but never did. Last week the time had come. My granddaughter wanted me at the program. I wanted to be there. My husband was busy. I decided I could do it. And, with HaShem’s help, I did!
Of course, it was Friday morning and most of the residents were either sleeping or praying so the road was practically empty. Still, I did it. I slayed my fears and know I can do it again. Who knows what’s next? Eilat? Metulla? Driving a tank? Stay tuned.
|Holding my youngest grandchild in Itamar|