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Driving: Before & After Recovery

Old 08-03-2018, 09:03 AM
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Driving: Before & After Recovery

This post isn't about driving with alcohol in my system. (FWIW, there was only one time in my life I drove after drinking (usually someone else drove me) and it was potentially dangerous. It was because the wine glasses at a work lunch holiday celebration were huge glasses. I had two glasses because of the "f**k-it's" and to follow the crowd, but I should've known better.)

It's about driving before and after my recovery work. Alcoholism and recovery is much more than just the alcohol. It's the noise in our heads before recovery work, and the quiet in our heads after recovery work. I drank to quiet that noise, and to feel a sense of ease and comfort.

I always thought I was a relatively safe driver. But in hindsight, I "drove out my emotions". If I was in a bad mood, I took it out on my driving. I cursed in the car. I was angry. I'd comment on every other driver's bad driving skills. I moved my car with anger. I used the horn aggressively.

If I was running late, I took it out on the other drivers, as if it was somehow their fault for making me late. I was very impatient while driving.

If someone took the parking spot I wanted, I'd get angry, bang the steering wheel, curse, and get all pissed. Why in the world did I make it to be such a big deal??

If I saw a very unsafe driver (unfortunately there are a lot around here.....), I would scream "HOLY SH**!!!!!", blare my horn, etc., as if it would make any difference. They know what they're doing and they don't care. They feel invincible.

If I was seeking an adrenaline rush, I took it out on my driving. Nothing too crazy---but still. Not the way I should've been driving.

If I needed to get to the liquor store before it closed, I didn't obey speed limit signs, and cursed the entire drive there.

If you knew me, you'd be surprised that I was like this. It was as if another part of my persona came out while driving. I wouldn't say I was erratic, dangerous, or anything like that, but for me it wasn't my authentic self. And I'm sure people on the roads sometimes thought I was the bad driver.

I've gotten pulled over before for speeding when I knew I was speeding. And I've gotten pulled over for speeding when I didn't realize I was speeding. Why was I resentful at a police officer for doing his/her job? I was the one who was breaking the law for speeding! I was putting people's lives and my own life in danger. Laws are there for a reason. I was always respectful of the police, so this never made sense to me. It does now in hindsight.

My driving was mindless, selfish, self-centered, and emotional.
I could hardly focus on driving, because my monkey mind was going 10,000mph.

Many times, I would eat in the car, because driving made me so anxious. I needed to be doing something else. So I thought. I see now that it was that *I* was anxious, and it was just more apparent while I was driving. Driving while eating was definitely not safe. I knew it wasn't at the time, but it was as if I couldn't help it. Kinda crazy to admit it and see it all in hindsight.

Now, post recovery, my driving has gotten so much better. It's been a process. It hasn't happened over night. I had a few set backs but I noticed them very quickly. I've had such growth and maturity in this area of my life.

The other day I took some back roads instead of the expressway to go somewhere. I've taken this route many times before, for a former job. I sort of knew the speed limits going that way, but not clearly. This time, however, I played the music in the car very low. And all I did on the drive home was mindfully pay attention to each and every posted speed limit sign. I noticed how the speed limit changed from 50, to 40, to 35, and back up to 50. Around here people usually drive at least 5-10 miles over the posted speed limit. But I didn't do that. I drove the actual posted speed limit. It was much easier to do, although it wasn't very graceful yet when I had to change from 50 to 35.

I was calm.
I was peaceful.
I was mindful.
My mind wasn't chattering 10,000mph in a zillion different places.
I noticed all of the speed limit signs, without it being a huge effort to do so.

What a gift.

On my way home from a meeting, I was on the expressway. Normally, when people are driving 20 miles over the speed limit, rapidly changing lanes, getting up on my tail really fast and then cutting around me, I get extremely anxious, angry, start cursing, etc. I didn't do that this time. I noticed them, without letting them effect how I felt so much. They flew by me, and I just noticed it without judgement or reacting to it.

I went the posted speed limit (Pre-recovery on the expressways, I used to go 5-10 miles over, sometimes 15. Sometimes I'd look down at the speedometer and be shocked. Other times, I knew how fast I was going).

I went to Barnes & Noble to get a book on recovery I had on reserve. I literally put my hand on their door at 9:01pm. The staff member who had just locked the door saw me. I smiled. I calmly got back into my car.

I hadn't sped to get there. I just sort of drove there normally. I figured, If I got there when they were still open, great. If they were closed, oh well. I went back the next day. Was it inconvenient? Yeah, of course. Did I make a mountain out of a molehill? Nope! That's huge progress.

Was my recovery work challenging? Yes. Was it worth it? Every single moment of it was without a doubt, and I'd do it again if I had the choice.
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:07 AM
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Thanks. I really enjoyed your post.

I too drive much slower these days. It's not recovery related but I just noticed that driving slower is so less stressful. 'Better to arrive late than not at all' as the saying goes.

Also, the bookshop part of your post reflects action with respect to the serenity prayer, something I keep forefront in my mind now I don't drink.

Safe driving!
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