The Driving Class

When I was fifteen years old, my parents sent me to a driving class, which upon completion would get us a discount on car insurance and I would know how to drive. My stepdad had tried to “teach” me once or twice, but really all he did was yell at me the whole time, so thankfully I was enrolled in driving school where I more than likely would not be reduced to tears each time I took my position behind the wheel of the car. The class was held at my high school during the summer months and there were quite a few people in attendance, ranging from my age to a couple of years older. It was a multi-day class that had us start each morning in the classroom, watching videos, reading handouts, and being given power point presentations, all surrounding one central theme, defensive driving. In case you are lucky enough to not have had your mind warped by the driving school that scarred me for life, defensive driving is realizing that peril is everywhere, assuming the worst in all the other drivers on the road, and trying to spot their mistakes before they make them.

Ever since that class, my life has never been the same. The videos and pictures of mangled bodies who presumably weren’t defensive drivers have haunted my thoughts most every time I get into the car with someone else. I’m generally okay when I’m the one driving, that is until people start merging or changing lanes and I begin to assume that they are despicable human beings who won’t check their mirrors before doing so, and thus, in a less than confident state of mind, I make my way slowly down the highway. When I ride with someone else, it doesn’t matter if it’s my mom who has driven me for years, or someone I just met, there are always moments of panic as I now have to worry about the driver of my car along with all of the other careless motorists on the road. From the passenger seat I press my right foot to the floor, desperately trying to brake our car to no avail, so I settle for grabbing the handle attached to the ceiling by the window, and hanging on for dear life.

I’m curious to know if anyone else has had similar ptdcd (post traumatic driving class disorder) episodes and if so whether or not this is something that can be treated and overcome. I have lots of ridiculous fears that most normal people don’t seem to think about, but this is one that affects me on a daily basis. The nice thing about that driving class was that they showed us all those pictures and videos, effectively scaring me half to death, then sent us outside for the actual driving portion of the class, you know, on the road with all those irresponsible and deadly drivers. I may be permanently scarred mentally because of that driving class, but we were able to save some money on car insurance, a trade off that was totally worth it, although in hindsight, it seems like we could have gotten similar results minus the crippling fear, by just switching to Geico.

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