Yesterday I travelled two hours one way to learn a very big lesson about myself and to cry my eyes out in a Gas & Go parking lot. Sounds like a fun day doesn't it? I fully expected that there would be tears in my day, I just didn't expect them to flow under a $121/litre sign. I was suppose to be at a funeral. A funeral for my cousin, who left this world with a great deal of life yet to be enjoyed, fifty-two years old is a life cut short.
I have come so far in my battle with anxiety, have gotten bigger than so many fears, overcome nearly all of the demons that paralyse me. Heck, I can leave my house, talk to strangers, speak in public, express my opinion, send my children on adventures and see Mike off on a bike ride without having his funeral planned before the sound of his engine is out of earshot. I have come a long way from where I was. I'm very proud of the work and the success I've put in and achieved. I am very grateful for the love and support that helped me get here. I also find myself 'braver than I believe and stronger than I seem' (to quote the friend of a famous bear) in the face of those few lingering scenarios I know still challenge me to work around, work with, work through to navigate.
Navigate, that's a good word for yesterday. One last remaining hurdle is a terror of highway driving, that sounds ridiculous doesn't it, even my Gran at eighty years old jumped on the 400 series without batting an eye. I hate it so much I am not even a very good passenger. Having said that I can get anywhere from anywhere given enough time and a good route planned. I was determined to get to my cousin's funeral yesterday. I was determined to get myself there. Yes I could have caught a ride but that would have been the old me, the one relying on others to get her through life, to life, that is not who I am anymore. This was something I could do on my own. So, I planned my route, loaded the destination into the GPS. Samantha and I had an agreement; I would leave with plenty of time to spare, opt for the 'alternate' route and she, in return, would be patient and keep me on the back route, no highways.
We did well, so well in fact that about twenty minutes from my destination Samantha decided that I could handle a quick couple of exits on the QEW/403. We exchanged some tense words, I pulled over, re-planned the route to re-avoid the highway. It didn't work, I got horribly lost trying to skirt my fear, every which way I turned the highway seemed the only option. I got so frustrated that I even considered just getting on the dam thing and getting where I need to go but I didn't, the thought of the lives I would be putting at risk with my lack of skill kept me off. I kept driving and cursing and checking the map to make sure I was travelling in the right direction. I swore, I cried and I hated myself for being so ridiculously afraid.
Eventually I even arrived in front of the over flowing church. I was 20 minutes late and the closest parking I could get was six blocks away. By the time I walked in the door everyone else would be walking out. I sat in the van and worked through the last bit of anxiety and frustration. Late was better than never, right. No it's not, not if you are late for a funeral or a wedding, it's disrespectful and embarrassing. In the state I had managed to arrive in I was not nearly composed enough or strong enough to offer up a humorous explanation and a breezy 'laugh it off' for my ineptitude to the people expecting I was going to be there. I put the van in drive and went in search of a restroom. This is where the story finds me parked in the Gas & Go. I called Mike, I was miles and an hour (by his drive) from him helping me but I just needed to hear that I could get back home, that I wasn't going to Hell because I missed a funeral and that my effort no matter how unsuccessful counted. I'm sure that in our twenty eight years together these phone calls, these tears, this worry is the one thing Mike wishes wasn't part of my standard equipment package. Something else happened in that gas station parking lot. I decided that it is time to get bigger than this fear, to look this last hurdle square in the eye and crush it.
Last week I learned how to poach an egg, it was my challenge, my goal. This week the goal is a little grander...I'm going to learn to drive on the highway. I am going to get bigger than my fear so that I don't have to take twice as long, miss the important things in life and rely on other people to get me through quite so much. Gratitude to Mike who has agreed to risk life and limb to help me conquer this hurdle, Gratitude to the guy at that Gas & Go who only smiled and didn't ask any questions. Gratitude for the understanding of the people who thought I should be there.
Gratitude for the knowledge that a set-back today just means I have a little further to go tomorrow. Nothing compared to how far I've already come.
Oh, and if you are on the expressway or 400 series any time in the next month stay clear of the blue mini-van, I will be learning but I will not have a caution flag on.
Gratitude, Hope and Smiles are meant to be shared,