The road is narrow and curvy and hilly, but the canopy of green trees over it makes it seem safer than it did when I drove it every day.
Larry and I are on our way to Roanoke, and we are driving on first one road then another that used to be familiar to me.
Some of that sense of familiarity returns as we go further along the roads and we start passing landmarks.
The garage with its collection of old Volkswagens. The church at the intersection. The place I ran out of the road in the rain one dark morning. The convenience store exactly 20 miles from home. The hill I tried to make it down in the ice. I had to turn around and try again the third time.
On this Saturday trip, I’m talking with Larry about this and that, but I’m feeling the anxiety of years ago.
Nearly six years ago in late September, I took a job with a newspaper in Roanoke. I thought I would enjoy the job enough that the long commute on lonely roads would make up for it.
I edited letters to the editor and commentaries, and I worked in the newspaper library.
Every morning I left the house by 6:15 to get to work by 7:30. I worked until 4 p.m., and then drove home. If I hit the lights right in the city and didn’t get behind a line of traffic on the two-lane roads, I could get home a little after 5.
Late that fall into the winter, I started having what I found out later were panic attacks and severe anxiety. I became afraid to drive. I clenched the wheel all the way to Roanoke and all the way back home, afraid I was going to wreck.
I did wreck in late October. I wasn’t speeding, but I was going too fast for the wet roads one morning, and my car whirled around and off the road. I thought I was going to flip and actually gave myself over to that idea. I didn’t flip but stopped a few feet away from a utility pole. I wasn’t hurt and I was able to drive away from the accident.
But that just heightened my fears of driving and my anxiety in general.
I went to my family doctor and he tried me on different medications. They just seemed to make things worse. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t sit still.
I sat at my computer at work and had to will myself to open up a file and edit. I was so afraid of not doing a good job.
I was so afraid.
I finally turned in my resignation and left the job in February, feeling unable to continue the long drive and the work.
But that was years ago. I eventually got help from a specialist, a psychiatrist. I got on the right medication. I received therapy. I was in a much better place now.
I remind myself of that as I ride along with Larry in his truck on Saturday. I have an opportunity to enjoy the day with my husband. And I’m going to do that.
We chat about things, comment on the scenery, the houses and horses and farmland we pass. Then we concentrate on finding our way around a city that we’re not as familiar with as cities closer to where we live.
Our first stop is a parts store to pick up a lawn mower guard which Larry couldn’t find in Lynchburg or Danville.
Then we ride around and find a restaurant to eat. I had found Wildflour Café on the Internet, and I want to eat there because they have a variety of foods available, including vegetarian selections.
|Centerpiece on the table.|
The food is great, and the atmosphere is relaxed. I eat a burger made of black beans and corn, along with sweet potato fries. Larry gets a regular burger and fries. We share an appetizer of fried green tomatoes with a chipotle-like sauce.
Then we drive home. We talk about what we see. We ride in silence. We talk some more. It is peaceful. It is OK.
Have you ever revisited a place or situation that used to cause you anxiety?