Whenever I tell someone I’m not driving anymore, the reaction is always “Oh, I’m so sorry!” or “That must be really difficult.”
I appreciate the empathetic comments, and might have made similar expressions of sympathy at other times in my adult life. But I now realize that, unless the person responding has given up driving themselves, I don’t think they can truly understand the impact it has on a person’s life. I never before appreciated how many aspects of my life would change when I agreed to give up driving.
But I certainly do now.
Not driving has taken away much of my sense of independence.
We live ten miles out of town, in a rural setting without bus service or Uber, so I have no way to get to the grocery store, my yoga studio, the library, or even to visit my grandchildren without a car. I always have to depend on Keith or someone else to drive me. To help coordinate my schedule as well as others I use a daily and monthly calendar to help me keep track of my activities as well as theirs (and to accommodate my memory loss). I share this calendar with my family so we can coordinate and combine stops whenever possible. And while my family is very gracious and patient with helping out, I still tire of the need to ask.
Stay tuned for a future blog post with more details about my calendar and how it has changed my life for the better in so many ways.
Depending on others has lessened my ability to be spontaneous.
Loss of independence, for me, coincides with loss of spontaneity. As I mentioned in my last post, I still find myself forgetting that I can’t just run into town when the thought pops into my head. Whenever someone drops me off to go shopping, I need to give an estimate of when I think I’ll be done. I didn’t realize before, how much I loved to simply meander through a store just for the fun of it. Wandering through the aisles and on the spur of the moment taking the time to try on clothes or shoes.
Knowing I’m on a time schedule can be most inhibiting, irritating and constricting—when I feel that old yearning to just graze. Now I’m restricted by the clock and the estimate I gave for how long I would take. Even when Keith goes into the store with me, I’m aware of his schedule and conscious of his patience. It’s simply not the same as having the complete, open-ended freedom of making a decision based on no one’s whim but my own.
I feel a loss of control.
It’s difficult for me to explain this loss other than to say: I always have to check in with someone before I can make a commitment which involves any activity outside of my home. I can’t just say ‘yes’ without tagging on, “I’ll have to check with…” I’m not able to make spur-of-the-moment decisions, such as stopping for coffee or deciding to go fishing because it’s a beautiful day. And planning a weekend visit with out of town college friends always must always include ‘who can drive me.’ I remember shrugging off this sense of dependence and bowing to external control, when I was 18 and moved away from home to live on my own. And now it’s tough to put it back on oh so many years later.
So, yes, giving up driving has been difficult and tiring…frustrating, humbling, terribly inconvenient, restricting, constraining, confining, and at times has brought me to tears.
Yet I know it is absolutely the right decision, even if I don’t like it.