This past Saturday, my husband Ryan and I attended weddings #5 and #6 out of 9 for the year. You could say we are “at that age” where all of our friends are now getting married, but really, it feels like it’s mostly my friends, meaning we’re going to be doing this all over again next year for his. Even so, we both enjoy going to weddings – even when they are outdoors in 98 degree weather (#5) and starting shortly after #5’s ceremony ends, leading to completely rushed good-byes (a la #6).
Living four hours away, we were only able to stay in town for less than 24 hours. We were up into the wee hours of the morning dancing (duh) and drinking (duh!), but knew in the back of our heads we had to hit the road early enough to get home to pick up our dog, Roxie (more on her at a future date). We climbed reluctantly into the car and hit the road, Ryan driving first. I was completely exhausted and decided to attempt sleeping, which never works for me when I am the sole passenger. And this leads us to the first OCD moment of the weekend – fear of the driver falling asleep at the wheel.
Maybe this has never crossed your mind before, or maybe you worry about this, too. I don’t know. But for me, it is a fear that prevents me from even so much as closing my eyes when I am riding shotgun. On our drive, my body was begging for sleep, but my mind refused. Shades on, I leaned my seat back and tried hard to relax. However, more than once I caught myself staring at my husband’s eyes out the side of my sunglasses, making sure his eyelids weren’t getting too heavy or that he wasn’t fighting to keep his eyes open. Over the next two hours, I probably asked him at least 8 or 9 times how he was feeling – Are you doing ok? Do you feel tired? Are you sure you’re ok to drive? For whatever reason, I am completely scared of my driver falling asleep if I’m not awake to keep them company. As if they are completely incapable of determining for themselves how tired they really are. It’s a ridiculous fear, and only serves to make me feel more in control of the situation.
When it came time for me to drive, Ryan – true to form – passed out almost immediately upon slumping into the passenger seat (making me think maybe my fear is not all that irrational…) I, on the other hand, was now tasked with driving the remaining two hours home without having napped and without a passenger to keep me company. This is usually ok, when I’m not already over-tired and highly anxious. But you do what you have to do, and so I started driving down the interstate. Which brings us to OCD moment Number Two – fear of getting into, or causing, an accident.
I am a safe driver – I have never gotten a ticket and have never been at fault in an accident. Sure, I have been rear-ended (I did live in Arkansas for two years after all) and I have slid my way into my fair share of ditches (hello – Wisconsin winters are rough!) And there was that one time I scraped my mom’s mini van on the side of a house. Ask any of my roommates how many times they have hit that same corner of the house and you will understand how easy it was to do. But that is it. I swear.
So I really have no reason to doubt my driving ability. However, I get behind the wheel and fear that my body will take over and involuntarily swerve off the road, slam into a semi, or drive off a bridge. I get nervous that I will suddenly decide to take my hands off the wheel and let the car go where it may. Or that I’ll select a target and drive full-speed into it. Completely irrational, right?! Do I want to get into a car accident? Hell no! But it scares the you-know-what out of me that I may actually do it. On purpose. While my husband is konked out beside me.
Without going into the long-winded explanation of what OCD is (I’ll save that for another post), essentially I was succumbing to my obsessive thoughts, which are typically relieved with compulsive behaviors (such as spying on my husband and drilling him for constant status updates on his level of tiredness). As I continued to drive, white-knuckling the steering wheel, I scanned the radio until I found my friendly NPR broadcasters, essentially my way of creating a ‘passenger’ to keep me company and my mind occupied. Robert Siegel and Michele Norris always deliver in my compulsive times of need. The four of us made it home without incident.
Clean driving record: maintained.