06 March 2008


Attention All: this is a community service announcement concerning public safety:

Foodfairy is learning to drive!

Actually, I've been learning to drive for a while now. But today I had my first accident. I'm pretty shaken up about it, and my natural reaction would be to eat. I can control it for the time being, but without some program work that will only be a temporary soluation. As one of the virtual speakers I've been listening to lately mentioned, if you don't write about your feelings you will eventually eat over them, sooner or later. That has certainly been my experience. I can deal with my emotions by bottling them up for only so long. But inside that bottle they all ferment into hunger. So I know I need to write about how I feel right now. I haven't been injured physically by the accident, but I could still be injured by the emotional fall-out.

So basically what happened was this: I was driving along a two-laned road that becomes one lane about 200m down from where I was. So, knowing I would have to change lanes at some point, I thought I would be smart and get in early. However, there is an important turn off before the lanes merge, so, the cars in the target lane are liable to be stopping quickly. This is why, in fact, my supervising driver had always waited until AFTER we passed the turnoff to tell me I needed to change lanes.

So, being inattentive and wilful as I usually am, I decided to change lanes early, without being directed, and without seeing that there was a car getting ready to stop and indicate.I was going too fast and I didn't check in front of me as well as behind me before I changed lanes. I think I got distracted when my supervising driver asked me why I was changing lanes. Anyway, I pulled in behind the car in question, and, I think, accelerated. I saw it, and my supervising driver yelled BRAKE!!! and I put my foot on the ACCELERATOR. I soon realised that I had put my foot on the wrong pedal and switched, but it was too late. We banged corners. Here's a picture of the corner of my car.

So the other guy got out and said I'd hit something. I said I hadn't, because my supervising driver said she didn't think I had. This got his back up, and he said "Yes you have, get out and have a look." Well I didn't want to get out and have a look. I was stopped in the middle of the road held in place only by the footbrake, inches from his car, and taking up two lanes. I asked if we could drive down the shoulder at the bottom of the hill. But by now he thought I wasn't going to take responsibility for it, and so he was trying to insist that I give him my name, license and registration before I went anywhere. We managed to convince him to follow us 100m down to the kerb, and I got out and gave him my license and name. But by that time I had started crying and was close to breaking down. So my supervising driver took over and I went to the car and started shaking and bawling. We went straight home, and I sat on the couch and bawled and cried some more. My supervising driver happened to be my mum, and so she sat on the couch with me and comforted me.

I have so many feelings going round in my head at the moment and I don't know what they are. I feel angry and resentful towards the other driver and my mum. I'm not exactly sure why. I mean he didn't really do anything wrong. The accidwent was undoubtedly my fault. It was no one else's fault- not my mum's and not his. He was angry and pedantic about getting my details-but who wouldn't be, especially after I denied I hit him in the first place? I'm resentful of my mum because she didn't tell me that I was a wonderful driver and it wasn't my fault (which is what I wanted to hear, but it wasn't the truth) and because she's still upset and gloomy, and that makes me feel bad and guilty.

I'm afraid, very afraid. I'm afraid that he will come after me for all I've got, and that the damage to his car and/or our car will be much worse than it looks, and there will be, at the very least, a huge insurance excess that I can't afford and my parents can't afford (I'm really struggling with money at the moment anyway). I'm afraid that my mum will think I'm a terrible driver and not take me out driving again. Or, if she does take me out driving again, I'm afraid she'll get all overcautious and overprotective and do the whole "You have to drive at 40km an hour [24miles] in an 80km [48miles] zone" thing. I'm afraid that my ADHD will stop me from ever being a good driver. That I'll never be able to pay attention to everything on the road, and that I'll be stuck at home with no life forever. Or else I'm afraid that one day I'll have a terrible car accident and get brain damage and turn into a zombie or a horrible person or something. (Yes I'm getting ahead of myself). I'm afraid that my parents will be angry at me and hate me.

I'm also afraid of my feelings- that they're not right or proper or real or something. This is a longer-running issue that is coming out in my fourth step. But I often use sad feelings to manipulate others, and I can't tell the difference between genuine bad feelings, and dramatized ones. Often I think it's a combination of both. But I still have this guilt and confusion about where one ends and the other begins. Today, when I was crying and shaking, was it to get sympathy and leniency from the other driver and from my mum? Or was it because I was actually shaken up? The thought certainly did cross my mind that I should cry, and that it would be better for me if I did, but I was also upset, I think. And when I called the people whom I'd been goin to see to say that I wouldn't make it, did I really need to tell them I'd crashed my car, so that they'd be all sympathetic? Couldn't I have just said something happened? Wouldn't other people be too ashamed or shaken to tell anyone that? Doesn't the fact I was able to use it to excuse something show that I wasn't really feeling ashamed, guilty and shaken enough?

I also feel fear about guilt. I worry taht I don't feel guilty enough. I'm really quite self-centred in my reactions to all of this. I"m not concerned for the person I crashed into, or my mum's trauma and state of mind. I'm not concerned for the other people on the road (primarily). I know I need to feel guilty, and to feel humbled so that I won't be so cocksure of myself next time I drive. But I can't make myself feel these things to a satisfactory extent, And if I did feel them to the extent I think I should I woulnd't be able to cope anyway. So I'm scared of not feeling the right way, scared of feeling the right way, and just damned confused and guilty.

Epilogue: Learning to drive in my part of Australia:

Ok, so the first thing you guys need to know is that I've had my learner's permit for about five years. That's a little bit long, but the reasons for it are threefold:

1. Finding the time and money was difficult for a long time

2. I am a procrastinator

3. The laws about driving in my part of Australia are insanely strict. So it's becoming more and more common to take a long time to get your licence

In my state you have to go through ALL the following stages to get a full licence

1. Turn 17 years old

2. Take a test on the road rules and safe driving habits, getting a very very high score

3. Complete 50 hours of driving practice under the supervision of a fully licensed (not provisional) driver, practising a variety of manoevres in a variety of conditions (since I got my learners' permit it's gone up to 120 hours thank goodness I missed that.)

4. Pass a very strict on road test, which almost everyone fails the first time.

5. Receive a 1st level provisional license (red P's) and keep those for a year. Your driving is restricted during this period, and you have ot display P-plates on your car

6. Pass a test based on a computer simulation designed to test how you deal with emergencies on the road

7. Receive a second level provisional license (green P's) and drive for another two years with P-plates on your car and restrictions

8. FINALLY receive your full license.

Is that overkill or what???

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