Some of my worst moments come when I’m driving. My tears flow freely in the car. And on the road is where I’ve been confronted with some blatant ugliness in others. It’s where my anger is more volatile, harder to control. I’m not fearful every time I drive, but I suspect some of this is trauma-related.
This morning we were sitting in standing traffic. Not moving at all. I decided to take a back road, and had to cross over a lane of traffic to make the turn I wanted. There was space, and as I started to merge over I made eye contact with the driver that I was cutting in front of–he was sitting at a complete stop. I was indicating to him that I was going to cross all the way over and be out of his way. When he noticed what I was doing he threw up his hands in exasperation and I saw his mouth shout what my ears couldn’t hear… “What the hell?!!” I was wronging him by needing to cross in front of him.
I pulled in front of him anyway. And then on to the next lane, and made my turn. Shaking. Tears pouring down my face. Hurt, angry. Why are people so unkind? I don’t understand.
I watched a pickup truck speed up behind another car, tailing with only 5ish feet between them. Going 65mph. I watched a driver having an argument on her phone as she drove behind me. I wanted to scream at them all that my child is dead, that these things might seem harmless, but it’s not worth the risk. To plead with them to be courteous and pay attention.
Most of the time I can control my temper when the kids are in the car. When I’m by myself, it’s harder to stay calm. Someone drives too close, or comes behind me too fast, and I’m left shaking and crying from either fear or fury. I’ve shouted and cursed at cars that race past me. I’ve screamed so hard that my throat hurts for the rest of the day. I wish there was something practical to hit in the car, because I want to pound on something, and the steering wheel isn’t quite solid enough for that. I weep, the flood of tears blinding my eyes. It’s not safe, but it happens often.
So many times in the last 7 months I’ve stepped back and watched myself, and wondered what in the world has happened to me. All of this is out of character. I’m like the explosive neighbor you wish would move out of the next-door apartment. I’m lost and I don’t like the fragile and unstable excuse of a person that’s replaced me.