For those that know me – learning to drive has been the bane of my life. I’ve passed my theory FOUR times! Every time I got it I let it expire because life got in the way. Poor health, bad choices, family drama, babies, buying a house… In November I FINALLY passed my test after learning on and off since I was 17!! That’s 16 years of life getting in my way and it’s completely my own fault. I know that. I did it though!
Learning to drive has caused me some major anxiety over the years. It’s important that when you learn to drive you find the right instructor for you. Don’t be afraid to have a few taster sessions with various instructors before making this decision. You need to feel comfortable, someone that calms your nerves, makes you believe in your ability and challenges you without you feeling anxious.
I’ve had a wide range of instructors. The one I had as a teenager was a complete slime bag and was sexually inappropriate with many of his female students – this put me off learning for a few years and I pleased to say that he was prosecuted after a few girls stepped up and he was struck off as an instructor. The one following that made me feel uncomfortable by pushing me way past my ability and comfort zone too quickly. He was driven by getting the most passes in a year and I felt he didn’t really care for his students welfare. He just wanted them to pass so he could move onto the next one. I can safely say I made the right choice by ditching him. I then waited until I was ready before trying to learn again.
Then I met Rodger a few years ago. He was lovely, and funny, and relaxed. He pushed me without my realising it and I felt so comfortable learning with him. He’s a great instructor. He could see the potential and calmed my nerves. He worked with my fibromyalgia and anxiety to help me figure out the safest way for me to be able to drive. He tailored himself and my learning experience to suit my needs. He gave me homework and worksheets to help me figure it all out. It really helped. Unfortunately I got quite sick when I was pregnant with Bee and had to end my lessons. Shortly after that we moved and I ended up living in an area that Rodger didn’t cover.
I decided early last year that my driving ability was at a point that I could avoid the hassle of weekly lessons and I had an assessment for an intensive driving course. In August I bit the bullet and booked it. Then I met Linda and I can’t believe how much my driving experience changed by working with her. She was calm, friendly, patient, understanding. She boosted my confidence and told me off for belittling myself all the time. She understood my difficulties and was so good with me when I had a large anxiety attack before my second test. I can’t recommend her enough. She was fantastic.
I failed my first test because I was nervous, the word “test” is quite scary for me. The driving test is actually just an assessment of what you know and making sure that you are safe to be let out on your own. That’s all. I took that mentality with me into my second test but I was so frustrated beforehand because I wanted it so much, half an hour before my test I had to pull over and get out of the car to sit at the side of the road. My head failed me, I broke down and I became a mess. After a few minutes I regained my composure and went into my test knowing that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, I knew I was going to fail. I did it anyway and failed. That time hurt more than the first.
Part of me expected the first failure. The second one was hard to bear especially as I knew my Nan’s health was deteriorating and I wanted to have the ability to go to her if she needs me. As soon as I got home I re-booked my test. I had a three hour lesson with Linda the day before and we laughed and joked our way through it as we usually did. Making driving a fun experience for me. The day of my test came and I tried so hard to be positive about it. The anxiety was there but I managed to put it to the back of my mind. I had a few minors but I passed! I couldn’t believe it. I hugged the examiner when he showed me the result – which took him by surprise… Linda came out to the car and this wave of relief came over me and I had this huge ball of emotion hit me. I suddenly felt trapped in the car and became so overwhelmed that I cried. Linda handed me a clean tea towel from her boot and looked so proud and relieved for me. She knew how much I wanted it and she was feeling everything I was feeling. I could tell she was so proud that this anxious mess that she’d worked so hard on had finally passed.
I’m so proud of myself! It’s been the cause of major arguments with my family for years. It broke my Mum’s heart that I always had to live so far away and couldn’t drive to see her.
I picked my kids up from school on my own when I passed. I wanted to surprise them. We saw Daddy’s car parked outside the school and I asked where Daddy was. They were quite excited when I got in the driver’s seat and they realised I was going to take them home. On the way back Moo turned around and said to me “I like this surprise Mummy but a biscuit or sweets would have been better”!!! I laughed, thanks kiddo!
Now the plan is to refill the emergency fund then get a little run around car for Hubby to commute in so I can use the big car for the dog and the kids. So far I’ve driven from Aylesbury via my Mum’s and on to Oxford to visit my Nan, driven to work and back a few times, done my own food shopping trips, and accidentally ended up on the M1 twice! I guess that’s one way of gaining motorway experience!! I’ve loved having the car to myself over Christmas and my commute to work has been over an hour shorter thanks to it. Unfortunately Hubbly went back to work on 2nd January so he needed it back. He has to travel much further than I do for work.
I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Rodger and Linda. Thank you for pushing me and believing in me, thank you for being patient with me and for encouraging me to keep going. You’re both wonderful instructors and I wish you both all the best!
The Anxious Pixie
Rodgers Driving Academy, covering Bicester, Brackley and Banbury.
Driving Solutions, covering postcodes NN1, NN2, NN3, NN4, NN5, NN6, NN7, NN8, NN9, NN10, NN14, NN15, NN16, NN29.