carry on

The View From The Back Seat

Control Issues vs. Panic Attacks. When opposing forces tug at you, it's a difficult position to be in. Goofy distractions bring serenity.

Control vs. Fear – Calm vs. Panic. When opposing forces tug at you, it’s a difficult position to be in. It’s kind of like watching a scoop of ice cream fall on the scale beneath your feet. Does the irony cause you to panic and throw away the remaining scoop, or do you just relax and enjoy it instead?

ice cream feet

Fear often leads to the need to take control. And yet, being in control can also be overwhelming. In the last few years, I’ve dealt with this conflict most often when I have to travel by car.

Panic Attacks Are Fun For No One

Put me in the passenger seat of a car, and terror engulfs me. You know what it’s like when that annoying person in the passenger seat is constantly pressing the invisible brake on her side, or clutching the “oh shit!” handle above the door, right? Well, yeah. That annoying person is me – holding my breath until I’m about to pass out, certain that a horrible wreck is about to happen – again and again and again. And the poor driver is left wishing for an eject button, so they can just be rid of me for a while.

watch out

Control Issues Aren’t Fun Either

To avoid that scenario, I tend to always get behind the wheel, which is equally annoying for me, because I really don’t want to drive all the time. Driving at rush hour, for instance, is pretty nerve-wracking, and I’d much rather not have to deal with cars cutting in an out in front of me.

Finding That Mellow Place

So what happens when I get in the BACK SEAT of a car? Well, it hasn’t happened very often, but the few times I’ve been in the back seat of a car recently have been a pretty laid-back experience.

Just the other day, I spent most of my time in the back seat of a car, sitting next to Auntie N, who is a bit unique and eccentric, as some little old ladies tend to be. I watched Auntie N fiddle with her purse as she regaled us all with long-ago tales of a slightly lascivious nature. Throughout the course of these eyebrow-raising stories, my attention was occasionally diverted by the side remarks coming from TeeTot, who was driving, and Helga who was riding shotgun. They filled in the extra details that Auntie N failed to mention, enabling me to keep up with who did what to whom, or where, or how often. I won’t mention all the “way too personal” details that Auntie N felt obliged to share during our time together.

So it turns out that I don’t have to choose between control and panic. It was a treat to go for a drive that consisted of an hour and a half of fun, with absolutely no “oh shit handle” moments and no holding of my breath – well, except for that one time someone farted. I suspect it came from Auntie N, but I can’t be sure. Perhaps it was just a general sewage smell from outside the car, but in any case, it was the only breath-holding moment of the trip.

I assume the mostly blocked view of the road ahead combined with the distraction of conversation is the primary factor in preventing a full-blown panic attack. I really wish self-driving cars would become more ubiquitous. Or maybe I should try Uber. I don’t have a clue what something like that even costs. But I do know that when given the opportunity, I should throw myself into the backseat of a car more often. The view from there is pretty tranquil.

carry on

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