“Breathe in. Breathe out. You can do this. Turn the key. Put the car in reverse. Back down the driveway. It’s only 10 minutes away.” And so that stage of my recovery began. It’s hard to describe what anxiety can do to a person. For me, one of the things was that it made me terrified to drive. It’s technically called vehophobia. All I knew was that for years I had avoided driving. In over two full years, I had driven less maybe 10 times. Every single one of them was following my husband to or from a car shop because one of the vehicles had issues. The fear wasn’t caused from an accident. It was just fear of fear. Fear that I would have a panic attack while driving. And strangely enough, Alaska was a part of the recovery from that fear. And in Alaska I found myself relearning how to drive.
Alaska – a Fresh Start
When we received military orders to Alaska, I became 100% positive that it was a solution and fresh start. A solution to what I craved for our family. A solution to finding a community. And most especially, a solution to overcoming my fears, anxiety, and panic. A way to overcome my sheer terror of driving. I do not know why I felt like our move to Alaska would change so much. All I know is that for some reason I grasped hold of the fact that God was going to let Alaska be different for us. And it is. It’s very different.
Relearning How To Drive
Finally, after avoiding driving for 2.5 years there I was. In Alaska. By myself. Relearning how to drive. The first time I drove in the state was a day after arriving. I remember my hand shaking as I turned the key. I remember driving the ten minutes to where I was going repeating over and over “You aren’t going to have a panic attack in this car. Remember? You’re in Alaska. Life is going to be different now.” A few minutes later as I pulled into the parking lot, I remember thinking “See? Alaska is different. God brought your family here for healing. You can do this.”
And I did. Within 3 weeks of moving to Alaska, I was driving 3 times a week around town. Yes, there were still moments when I had to pray myself out of panicking. But for the most part, I started driving again when we moved to Alaska and didn’t stop. We are going on two years since moving here. I drive 4-5 times a week at the very least. I rarely have a moment where I am nervous or second guess my ability to drive.
Fear is Paralyzing. Freedom is Relief.
For 2.5 years I had tried and tried to get back into the drivers seat. And every single time I found myself absolutely paralyzed by fear. Nothing had changed. Except one thing. I had decided that God was bringing us to Alaska because it was going to be different. I look back now and realize that my husband had been right all along. What actually needed to change was that I needed to believe that I could do it and trust that God would give me that strength. That I needed to believe that I actually could drive without a panic attack. And for some reason, when we found out we were moving to Alaska, I finally believed that I could begin relearning how to drive. Somehow I linked me being stronger with that move. And with God’s help, I did finally get stronger.
Alaska is a beautiful state. It’s very different from the other states. And our whole family loves this place. But for me, it is even more. It marks the journey of freedom. The moments when I finally believed that there was hope. Hope to live free, hope to live strong. Hope to be different. And one of those big differences was me finally relearning how to drive.