The Driver’s Seat

December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve lived in San Antonio

For the past 7 years

But I’ve never gone down to the Riverwalk at night

To see the Christmas Lights

Or watch the Carolers go by in the boats

It’s something I always wanted to do

But it was never going to happen

 

For one thing, I struggled with anxiety

Full blown panic attacks

And much of that was related to driving

Because for many years I wasn’t allowed to drive

Because that wasn’t ‘my place’


So I rarely drove at all

Then suddenly

I was alone

With 4 kids

And a Suburban

In a big city

I had to relearn quickly

How to be the one in the Driver’s Seat

 

I could not drive on the highway

Because the anxiety would take over

I had believed for too many years

That I was incapable of driving

Because that’s what I was told

 

It’s strange when I look back on it now

Because I grew up in Washington DC

That is not what anyone would call

A small town

 

I learned how to drive in DC

On the highway

I drove myself to college and back on semester breaks

Long drives of 7 hours at a time across the state line

 

I had driven myself all over the place

I was 23 years old

I’d been a driver for quite awhile at that point

Independent and capable

So why did I suddenly hand over the keys?

Why did I just accept what someone told me?

That I couldn’t drive

If he had told me the sky wasn’t blue

Would I have believed that too?

 

When he told me that I couldn’t handle driving

I just believed him

When he told me it wasn’t my place to be

In the Driver’s Seat

I just accepted it

But then he was gone

And  I had no choice

 

I could no longer remember

Who I used to be

That girl who grew up in Washington DC

That girl who grew up driving downtown

Riding the subway

Going to museums

Going downtown for the fireworks

In traffic and crowds

She was gone

Only a distant memory

 

Replaced with this mid 30’s woman

Who could barely function

Brought to her knees by a 2 lane road

With very little traffic

Reduced to tears

When confronted with a railroad crossing

Even though nothing was there

 

At the time, the panic overwhelmed me

But I had to find a way to function

So I was prescribed medication

It barely worked

Panic still ruled my life day and night

 

I had to learn how to drive again

How to handle the panic

Because children need groceries in the house

They need to be taken to school

And soon I would have to find a job

 

It was 2005

I needed to function

So I made it manageable

And I created for myself a life

Within a 2 mile radius

I literally found a way to function

Inside a bubble

 

 I made a list of the places

I felt I had to go

And then I searched for them

On Google Maps

I only considered the places

Within my bubble

My 2 mile radius

Without going on any major roads

Or crossing through any real traffic

 

The grocery store was 1.1 mile away

I found a church exactly 1.5 miles away

The school was 0.8 miles away

And then I was done

We could survive

Off of just that

 

It was frightening to drive a Suburban

When you have driven very little for years

And behind you are babies strapped into carseats

Counting on you to keep them safe

Your hands are on the steering wheel

When you start to lose your vision

Because the panic attack is taking over

And you can’t breathe

 

Then it happened

One of the kids got sick

And I realized

To get to the doctor

I had to drive

10.7 miles

And for a brief time

I had to get on the highway

And that’s when I started praying in the car

A LOT

 

It probably didn’t sound like praying most of the time

Especially when I had to get on the highway

It sounded more like this

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

PLEASE DON’T LET ME DIE, JESUS!!!

There were probably a few other words thrown in there

Which I won’t repeat

@##!!!!@@!!@**&@!

I was a work in progress

God could handle it

 

My children have many stories to tell

Of those years

I’m sure it’s not so comforting

To be in the car with your mother

While she screams her way through the highway!

The entire 10.9 miles of the trip

 

But the kids were right there with me

Praying too

You bet they were!!

It was frightening for them as well

I felt badly for them

I’m supposed to be the adult

The one in charge

And I’m coming unraveled

 

So as babies

They started doing this thing

Where they would clap for me when I made it to the next traffic light

When we made it through a 4-way stop

When we turned a corner

Or had to get on another road

They would clap!

When we drove across the train tracks

They would clap!

When we arrived at our destination

They would clap!!

Good job, Mama! I knew you could do it!

You’re a GOOD driver, Mama !

You are! You are!

 

Slowly the voices of my little ones

Clapping for me

Cheering me on

Filled my mind with new thoughts

New ideas about myself

Instead of those old tapes in my head

Telling me I shouldn’t drive

That I didn’t belong in the Driver’s Seat

I had new words

You CAN drive, Mama

You ARE a good driver, Mama

Yeah!! You did it Mama!!

 

Those words began to heal me

They began to penetrate my soul

And slowly I began to believe it

To remember who I used to be

That I could do it

That I could handle things

That I wasn’t inept or incapable of driving

 

And then I got a job

Doing casework

I had to drive all over the city

Out to the country

Downtown

 

I would travel sometimes 60 miles and back

On a case

I would have to go into people’s homes

Interview their families

For someone who has a severe anxiety about driving

Anxiety about going to unknown places

And meeting unknown people

This was the absolute worst job that I could ever get!

 

But I needed the job

So I took it

I bought a GPS

And I prayed

A LOT

 

I could tell stories for days about those trips

The screaming

The crying

The praying

All done by me alone in the car

I can only imagine what the people on the road next to me

Were thinking!!

 

But that job  forced me to drive

To just get in the car

AND GO

God and I had many in depth conversations on those trips

And the kids would sit by the phone waiting for my call

To make sure I was ok

 

Then something happened

I began to conquer my fears

And I realized

I could do it

I did not have to live within a 2 mile radius anymore

 

It seemed for awhile

I might come out of this shell

But then  the food took over my life

It became harder and harder for me to do cases

The bigger I became

Harder for me to fit into the chairs at people’s homes

To do my interviews

Harder for me to fit behind the wheel of the car

But I still kept going

Until we lost the funding for the contract

And I lost my job

 

That’s when I let

Something else take me out of the Driver’s Seat

I let something else dominate my life

And feed me lies

That something else

Was Food

Depression

And with it

Anxiety once again

 

As I grew bigger

My world grew smaller

And there I was again

Living within that bubble

 

Because now

I could barely walk

So once again

I was confined to live within these walls

Walls built  by donuts and snickers and Reeses

As they consumed my life

 

I still have some issues with driving

I still experience anxiety

But nothing like I did when they were babies

But there was one thing left to conquer

The Riverwalk

At night

 

If you want to go to the Riverwalk

You have to drive Downtown

For anyone–that is stressful

For someone who has a history of anxiety about driving

Who has had panic attacks while driving

It is a frightening prospect

 

The Riverwalk presents other issues

The walking

Going up and down a long flight of stairs

Fitting in a crowd

I’ve done this a few times in the past year

Since I started losing weight

Amanda and I went when she came to visit

But going at night

To see the Christmas lights

Now THAT was something I had never done

 

Because driving downtown at night is scary for me

Being on the Riverwalk at night is scary

If you’re someone who can’t fit in tight spaces

Or does not have good balance

 

But things have changed

I used to sprain my ankle 3 times a year

I used to just be so weak that I would fall all the time

But now I feel strong

I really do

 

When I walk

I don’t feel weak in my legs

I don’t feel shaky

My legs don’t ache and tremble with every step

 

When I walk upstairs

I can feel that my legs have some power behind them now

This may seem exaggerated

But for me…it feels this way

Because I used to have to lean on a cart when I went places

With no strength to hold myself up

 

Now I really feel somewhat in control of my body

LIke it’s not my enemy anymore

Like it wont just give out on me and collapse

My ankle won’t crack underneath me

My knees won’t buckle

It’s a wonderful thing

 

The kids and I found our way downtown

We got lost of course

Even with the GPS

But I handled it

With their help

And we made it

 

We found a great parking spot

Amazingly!

And there we were

FINALLY

Downtown on the Riverwalk

At Christmastime

Admiring the lights

Walking in and out of the crowds

Easily

Without any problems

 

We walked as long as we wanted

As far as we wanted

The sights…the sounds…

Taking it all in

The Carolers going by

 

We had never been to the Riverwalk during the holidays

At night

In 7 years, I had not done it

Either I lacked the courage

Or I lacked the strength

 

Sometimes I feel like I’m a world traveler

Like I’ve been dreaming all these years

About one day traveling the globe

And going on adventures

Except the world I am traveling

Is right here

Right here in San Antonio

Where I’ve lived for 7 years

But barely got to see

Because I was afraid

Or I no longer fit

 

So now I’m like a tourist in my own town

Seeing things

Doing things

Busting out of my bubble

The kids and I

Explorers!

What a gift!

What a miracle!!

 

So we decided to head downtown

To see the Riverwalk during the holidays

To see the Christmas lights!

 

Here’s a picture the kids took of me before we left

On our great adventure!

 

Here we are Downtown on the Riverwalk!

 

The Carolers in the riverboats

I got the kids ice cream (which was a really special treat for them as I never bring it in the house anymore)

I’m still on the fence on whether I should let the kids have things like this as I’m starting to FINALLY make changes

Not just in what I feed myself…but what I feed my kids

But on this night…I got them ice cream

And I didn’t have a single bite!

I never thought a day would come when I would have the strength to do something like that!

 

Life continues to be full of experiences I never thought would come true

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe

That it’s happening

Sitting there in a chair I can fit in

Watching the carolers go by

Enjoying the Riverwalk

It’s surreal

Like some far away dream

 

It took 7 years

But I made it to the Riverwalk

At night

To see the Christmas lights

I made it over one more hurdle

And so can you

 

Whatever your mountain is

That you need to climb

Whatever obstacle

You want to overcome

Know this

You are capable

You can overcome

 

I still struggle with panic and anxiety

Not like I used to

But it’s something I have to deal with from time to time

And whenever I’m struggling

The kids remind me of this song

From Veggie Tales!

 

 

 

Sometimes my kids are the ones

Teaching me about life

I find that to be the case

More often than not

 

But I’m thankful that we can conquer these things

Together

One step at a time

Because I know when we step out in faith

And take on our fears

He is faithful to carry us through!

 

 

Joshua 1:9

 Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.”

Matthew 28:20

And I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Kuil December 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I LOVED this post! Love how you’re showing that you were technically a prisoner of your choices, and now your better choices are opening up a whole new world to you! I can totally relate to that! I loved visiting the Riverwalk when I was in SA. Funny story- we went out one night, just the adults, and as we were walking my friend’s husband’s cell phone fell out of it’s holder and when he went down to pick it up, he kicked it into the river!!! I could have peed my pants!!!
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Oh if the river gave up what has fallen in it! I bet it has countless things it is holding onto!

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jennxaz December 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Oh I bet that was pretty. I have heard it is really cool to walk that at Christmas..love your NSV!

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

It really is Jenn! Thanks!

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annamarie December 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

What a wonderful post and what fantastic pictures of you and the children. Your children are the best, so supportive and cheering you on. You can tell how proud you are of them. Plus you should be so proud of yourself raising such great kids. Double kuddos to you.
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Thank you so much Annamarie!! I am proud of my kids. They are a huge blessing to me!

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Lady Amanda December 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm

So Glad you guys were able to make it down there. Loved all of the pics! Awesome! And I saw you lost another 2 pounds- yay!

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Thanks Amanda!! Next time you visit we’ll have to go at night!

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Courtney December 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

So many wonderful victories in this post! Way to resist the ice cream! I can only imagine the mental/emotional struggle that must have been for you. I think things like that in small doses (and as you’re in a position to handle them) will help your kids both appreciate a special occasion treat and see that a person can also abstain from them while still being perfectly happy. Goodness knows I’m guilty of eating something I don’t like/really want just because it’s a special occasion and everyone else is!
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Thank you Courtney!! Strangely enough, resisting the ice cream is no where near as difficult as it was before. Now that I don’t have the sugar in my system, I have a lot more inner strength to resist. It’s really like a drug to me. So long as I don’t take it in, I have a lot more self control. (most of the time)! That plus a lot of prayer!! lol Thanks again!!

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16blessingsmom December 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Good for you! I don’t know you, but my goodness I love you!! Your children are precious, clapping for their mama. You have overcome so much and I am so happy for you! When my son was in medic training in the Army, he went on the Riverwalk and really enjoyed it. Such a different climate there then up here in upstate New York. Thank you for sharing, I get so uplifted and encouraged by your posts!!

Della

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Aww!! Thanks so much!!! I hope your son is doing well in the Army!

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Tammy Herrin December 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I loved the pictures of you and your family. That looked like such a fun night. Your story always inspires me so much. You are an amazing woman!
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Thank you Tammy!

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Rockin' Mama December 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Holly,
I love all of your stories, but I especially loved this one. Do you realize how gorgeous you are, inside and out? You are teaching your children that with God, all things are possible; that lesson is one of the most valuable life-lessons they will ever learn. They have watched as you and God have worked together to make you the outstanding mother and woman-of-God that you are today. Many people would have given up, lost hope, or even checked out of this world, but your story proves that there is always hope, always a new start, always Someone who loves us and meets us wherever we are. Thank you for sharing the Hope that came into the world in a manger; because of Jesus, our lives can be lived in celebration and joy! Merry Christmas with love, D

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Wow thanks so much!! That made my day!! Like you said, we have a great hope and what a perfect season of the year for this awesome reminder. Thank you so much!! Many hugs and Merry Christmas to you too!

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April @ Red Dirt Mama December 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm

This post resonates so much with me! Since having Annabelle, I stay at home and I don’t drive a lot. I also lived in rural Oklahoma where I didn’t have to worry about fast traffic and traffic jams! Then… we moved to the DFW metroplex. Eek. I pray more while driving now than I ever did back when I was driving here while young and child free. I love watching you tackle new (and re-new) things. One thing I’ve learned is that strength just keeps coming when you need it. I believe that’s something that truly comes from God. It’s not necessarily our strength, it’s His strength instilled through us. That’s way cooler.
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I have an Annabelle too!!! I definitely relate to what you are going through. I remember when you blogged about moving. You have really had to go through a transition. This reminds me of when we moved here from Alaska. We also lived in a small place and suddenly had to transition to a big city. So I totally know how you are feeling! I’m so glad you left me a comment! I love hearing from you 🙂

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Linda Sherwood December 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I love your outfit and necklace! You look wonderful!
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Thank you so much Linda!!

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Amanda December 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm

That looks like so much fun and yay for conquering your fears!

If I may just make one comment about giving the kids ice cream. Ice cream is supposed to be a treat…and that’s what it’s become in your house. A “once in awhile” item to have on special occasions and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you make it taboo, it could cause problems later with hiding what they eat because you may not approve, etc. I struggle with this with my kids…trying to teach them balance and not letting my own food issues get in the way. 🙂
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Thanks Amanda!! Great points!

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Karen Sanders December 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I’ve never thought about visiting San Antonio, but now I want to! Conquering is your new thing!
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thanks Karen!! If you’re in town, we’ll have coffee!!

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Liza Glick December 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

What a great post! You have come such a long way and you have so much to be proud of. You are such a great example for your children of what a strong woman and person is capable of if they put their mind to it. They are so lucky to have you as a role model! Your pictures are beautiful!!!

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thank you so much Liza!! So glad to know you!

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Amanda December 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

You are looking aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamaaaaaaaaaaazing!!! My goodness! So so so so gorgeous!
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Oh my goodness!! Thank you Amanda!!

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Ronda December 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm

You are absolutely gorgeous! So proud of you.
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Thank you Ronda!!! I hope your book club goes well this week. Sounds like a lot of fun!!

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Lisa December 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm

My gosh, I needed to read this today! The holidays seem to always bring a lot of anxiety for everyone, which is a shame. My eating needs checking, that’s one of the reasons I read your blog, you inspire me! Keep up the great work and have a wonderful holiday season!
Lisa

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I totally understand what you mean about the holidays. Even though we look forward to them, they often bring anxiety in many forms. I appreciate your encouragement, Lisa!!

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Christine December 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Looks like an amazing night filled with family and lights. I struggle with what to bring into the house for the kids too. I want them to be healthy yet I like to *treat* them too.

I like to keep my world to a 5 mile radius because I don’t like to drive or pay for gas. Doesn’t always work though.

Isn’t it amazing how good kids can make you feel? My kids are my biggest cheerleaders, even when I don’t feel like I deserve it.
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Thanks Christine!! You are so right. The kids can really be our biggest cheerleaders!! And I know this…You DO Deserve it!!

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Jennifer December 13, 2012 at 2:00 am

Holly….Wow is all I can say. What a true testament you have.Holly what you shared about fear anxiety…. my bigges fears. I have allowed negative words and fear child on yo me far to long. Thank uoj tor sharing …… Mg support system Ix very limited. Keep up the wonderful awesome job. You look awesome.

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Steelers6 December 13, 2012 at 3:36 am

Don’t EVEN act like you don’t know
fashion, or aren’t fashionable!!! You
look so wonderful in the “headed out
the door” pic!!! Love.

(I read your fashion post- couldn’t
comment. Will try again.)

I do not bring ice cream into our home
much either. Not to protect myself as
much as some others tho. Although
some flavors are a problem! There is a
fairly new kind maybe just on the east
coast called “whoopie pie”. It’s like choc
cake bits in it. Can’t buy it. Ha. I learned.
🙂

The Christmas river walk looked really
cool. I think you did it right by visiting
during the day with Amanda first.

Chrissy

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Hey girl!!! Thanks so much! Well I have to admit that Savannah is my only hope regarding any fashion help!! She tells me what to wear!! And that whoopie pie sounds dangerous!!! I’m with you on that one!! I totally agree with you that going with Amanda during the day helped break the ice!

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Anna December 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

Your blog is the most inspiring one I have ever read….and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for posting about how you are defeating anxiety……I am going through a similar, but different, battle, too. You are beautiful!!!

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down December 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Oh thank you so much Anna! I hope that whatever you are going through, you will conquer it! I know you will! I’ll be praying for you!

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Pam December 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

It is indeed a miracle. Everything I do today still seems like a miracle, even after being at goal for 20 months. Just walking down the hall at work is a miracle!

I was in San Antonio in 1992. I loved it! Beautiful city, and the Riverwalk! Your city was my favorite part of Texas! I wanted to come back last year when the NCAA Div. 1 Volleyball Final Four was held there, but Nebraska didn’t make it, so we cancelled our trip. When I was there in 1992, I was morbidly obese. I was limited in what I could do, but not as limited as I got, because in 1992, I was only 41. But the older you get, the greater the limitations become, the obesity takes its toll on everything, your cardiovascular capacity, your joints, your size! But last year I was ready to come back and tackle the Riverwalk. And the Volleyball Final was last weekend, it’s at the right time of year, so we could have seen the Christmas lights, which I LOVE! At least this time, the trip was not cancelled because of my weight.

Someday I’m coming back to San Antonio, and Holly, you and I will walk up and down that Riverwalk, like normal people do, because that’s what we are today….just normal. And isn’t normal a miracle???
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James December 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm

You’re a true inspiration! Congrats on such a big accomplishment. I had to have a health scare where I almost died knock some sense into me. I was 6’3 and 519 lbs. and it was very laboring just getting up the stairs to bed, or out of the car and across the parking lot to work. I used MFP to track calories (12-1300/day) and I am down 113 pounds since August 25 so I need to lose about the same total amount as you. I’m fitting into clothes now that I haven’t in years, and it’s a real hoot to regain some of the energy that I have lost. Keep it up! I’ll be following the blog and rooting for you! -Jim

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carol January 3, 2013 at 3:06 am

i cried when i read your story…i dont know how to start…im so addicted to the food..im very scared…i also can hardly walk or stand…im very sad…for me..but so happy that you have found your way out of the madness…god bless you and your family

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