Friday, July 26, 2019

Questionable Choices: The Solo Road Trip

Have you ever done something, just to prove you could, only to regret being so damn hardheaded? Yeah, that's me. I sometimes make questionable decisions to prove that I'm not afraid (even if I am) and that I'm just as capable of doing these (sometimes difficult) things as anyone else. That's what happened this week when I drove from northern Utah to central Arizona... alone. It was a rough drive both ways. For reference, It's about 15 hours one way, accounting for stops, down some pretty tough highways. A flight would have taken about an hour and a half.

See, Matt isn't terribly keen on me taking solo road trips, and neither is my mom. But, this isn't the first time I've done this. I drove alone to California to see my family a few years ago. And when we lived in Texas, I tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to get Matt to let me drive alone to California (about 25 hours one way). If it was up to him, I would fly, but I am absolutely petrified to fly, so my anxiety goes absolutely crazy and I break down. I cannot even stand the smell of airports.

The really significant thing to note at this point is that I have a sort of moderate agoraphobia. I struggle to go out alone and when I do, I sometimes have trouble going into buildings alone. On more than one occasion, I've gone to Walmart, sat in my car for a half an hour, and unable to talk myself into going inside, have gone home. But, I don't want to be afraid to go out. I don't want to be so riddled with anxiety that I'm not able to function. I work overtime to reject what my body is telling me, to push back against the fear, and it results in things like this, where I do something drastically out of character and cause myself harm.

On the drive there, I was absolutely overcome with nausea. So, on top of the trip being a little bit tough, I was sick. Because I hadn't slept enough the night before and because the anxiety was trying to shut me down. I pushed through and kept going. I ignored the fear of the highway (I am terrified of traffic and road construction, I'm not much of a driver in general), the overwhelming fear that something terrible was going to happen to me, and the anxiety I always get when Matt and I are apart. It happens every time of us takes a trip. My brain goes to that place where I start to think that we will never see one another again.

It was actually an okay drive if you look past the road construction, major city traffic in Vegas and Salt Lake City, and the five or so hours I spent on the 95 South. That highway is narrow and has terrible visibility, the road winds and dips, and jackasses pass without being able to see if cars are coming. I am not a fan. This particular thing, the passing, caused me to come about ten feet from a very serious head on collision on the way back home. Passing is never worth your damn life or the lives of other drivers... just sayin'.

When it was time to leave, I was completely daunted by the prospect of having to make a 15 hour drive home and on the way back, I hit a monsoon on Hwy 95 North in Nevada. In my flurry of bad decisions, I decided to go to central Arizona during the hottest part of the year, during monsoon season. For forty miles the rain poured down with no visibility. The water on the road was so deep, my car was making waves as high as the side of my windows. It was absolutely the most terrifying part of the trip in either direction. I was never so happy to see anything as I was to see the inside of my garage when I pulled in at 11:30pm.

It was nice to see my family this week and I had a very nice 41st birthday (more about that later). But, I also learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes, it's better to listen to the people who love you. Sometimes, it's important to take self-care and listen to the voices inside that say something isn't a good idea, or that it's not a mentally healthy choice. Sometimes, doing something just to prove you can isn't a good enough reason to put yourself at risk. Next time, despite the fear, I'm going to fly. Because an hour and a half of anxiety is a heck of a lot healthier than the alternative.

The view south from Searchlight, Nevada just before I drove north into a monsoon