In honor of the holiday, I thought I’d write a post about something for which I am thankful this year.
As Turkey Day rolls around, I’m grateful that there is less anxiety in my life.
It’s very difficult to lead a productive life when I’m always tense, constantly worried, and forever waiting for something bad to happen.
I’ve made a concerted effort to lighten up, take a deep breath, and not dwell on all the horrible things that could happen should life decide to mess with me.
I think I’ve made the most progress when it comes to my anxiety about driving. My fear of driving was once so paralyzing, that I didn’t get behind the wheel for the first year that I lived in Maine.
It was only after I got divorced, and no longer had a live in driver, that I started to drive.
I’d never driven on a highway in Maine until I started my current job, which was eight years ago, and even then, it took some time to work up the courage to abandon side streets for life on the open road.
Of course, my driving anxiety was at its worst when it was snowing. I’d spend days freaking out about an upcoming storm. I’d check the weather report dozens of times a day. I’d lose sleep worrying about having to drive in a storm that was days away.
I was a mess. It was no way to live, and I wasn’t getting any better. If anything, my anxiety would get worse with every passing winter.
Then last year, Zombie Car finally refused to rise from the dead again. I was forced to buy a new car, and I made one of the wisest decisions of my life.
My RAV4 was a total game changer.
It took a little time last winter, but anxiety levels slowly dropped with each storm. Keep in mind, it snows quite often in Maine between October and April. And these aren’t little dustings that make the world look like a Winter Wonderland.
These are monster blizzards, that lead to horrible road conditions, and harrowing drives.
I used white knuckle it on those days, mumbling prayers, and gripping the steering wheel so tight, I was certain I would snap it in two. I’d obsessively check the conditions while I was at work, sending stress levels skyrocketing as I pictured worst case scenarios for my drive home.
It really was unhealthy in so many ways.
I’ve had to drive home from work in heavy snow on Friday, Tuesday, and tonight.
I’m not saying I’m completely over my fear of driving in snow because it would be stupid to ever not be a little intimidated by the dangers such conditions pose.
I’ve gotten so relaxed and confident about my snow driving skills, that I didn’t even know it was supposed to snow tonight. Nor did I bother to look outside at any point this afternoon. That’s never happened.
Trust me, it was not an easy trip home, but I didn’t worry about my head exploding, the steering wheel crumbling in my fists, or trying to say an entire rosary before I got home.
I put my faith in my ability to navigate in a storm behind the wheel of a vehicle made to handle Maine winters.
I didn’t give the snowstorms power over me. I didn’t brood and ruin perfectly good days worrying about something that was going to happen later in the week.
When I maneuver the RAV into the white and drifting snow, instead of feeling anxious, I feel very confident.
I can’t believe how great it feels to have that burden lifted from my shoulders, which are already sore from all the shoveling I’ve had to do this week.
By not allowing this particular anxiety to paralyze me anymore, I’ve put myself on a path to make further improvements in my life.
I’ve never liked feeling powerless, but I was too stressed by it to be able to think clearly enough to make a plan to overcome that anxiety.
One less phobia holding me back means I’m making progress in my quest to keep away the dark clouds, and lead a better, more positive life.
And for that, I am thankful.