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Old 03-14-2021, 12:45 PM   #1
BirdieChaser
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Default How can I better deal with anxieties related to car trouble when I was a teen?

When I was 15, my mom was going to drive me and my 11 year old sister in an old Silverado that had been my grandfathers and was now an extra vehicle at our house.

I had to ride in the middle since it was my sister's day to choose and was not happy about it because I thought my masculinity was under attack since I was having to ride between two females and my younger/shorter sister was by the window and I was in the middle.

I remember getting into an argument with mom about this and kept berating her after she told me to stop. When I kept arguing and following her around the house, she led me out to the truck and made me go ahead and get in the middle seat and buckle up. My sister came out and got in the passenger seat a few minutes later, but then we had to spend around 20 minutes waiting in the truck for mom because my aunt called mom when she was closing-up the house and they talked for a while.

When mom finally got in, I remember she spent several minutes trying to get the truck started, pumping on the gas pedal and turning the key but she could never get it to start-up and each crank ended in a buzzing sound and red lights. Eventually, she had to give up when the battery went dead before she could get it started.

Since that time the thought of riding in the middle; waiting in a vehicle; or buckling my seatbelt before a vehicle is stated make me really anxious and uncomfortable. I think this is because I was really anxious about riding in the middle between my sister and mom and then had the bad outcomes of getting into an argument with mom and being lead to the truck; having to wait in the truck with my sister for a long time; and mom not being able to get the truck started when she got in.

I know this was a very minor and inconsequential event in my life, but I still remember very vivid details of this almost 27 years later and still get very uncomfortable and anxious even thinking about riding in the front middle seat; waiting in a vehicle; or putting on my seatbelt before a vehicle is started. This is the only time I can remember when we were using the truck and my sister was by the window and I was in the middle. Within 6 months of this memory, I got my drivers license and dad gave me his old car so I was able to drive myself and avoid facing these anxieties. Looking back, it may have been better if I had to ride between my mom and sister again and we had a shorter wait for mom and then the truck started right-up. Perhaps then, I would have learned my anxieties of riding in the middle were just figments of my imagination and would be anxious about them.

I am wondering if anyone either has similar anxieties about riding in the middle; waiting in a vehicle; and putting on a seatbelt before a vehicle is started or has suggestions on how I can better deal with these anxieties. Any advice would be appreciated as I am tired of dealing with this memory and the anxieties it causes.

Last edited by BirdieChaser; 03-14-2021 at 03:07 PM..
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Old 03-15-2021, 03:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Strange Anxieties related to car trouble when I was a teen

Dear BirdieChaser,

I have many car anxieties but not the same as yours. My father always liked to go fast and cut in and out of lanes and get ahead of everyone. As a child I was terrified of this. Even now I feel fear and sometimes dread when I am in a car being driven by someone else. I think your thoughts and feelings are completely understandable. Wish I had something helpful to offer in the way of advice, but sadly I am at a loss. Hopefully others here who struggle with the same or similar things will have some helpful insights to share with you.

Sincerely yours, Yao Wen
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Old 04-07-2021, 09:21 PM   #3
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Default Should I try facing these anxieties?

I have been thinking more about the anxieties I feel about riding in the middle; waiting in a vehicle; and buckling my seatbelt before the engine is started, and how they are related to my memories of the time when I was 15 and had to ride in the middle between my sister and mom and the truck wouldn't start.

I know I felt a lot of anxiety about riding between my mom and younger sister before even getting in the truck when mom told me it was my sisters day to choose and she wanted to sit by the window and I would be in the middle. I remember in my 15 year old mind, I was convinced everyone we passed would think it was odd that a male was sitting between two females and that a younger/shorter female was by the window with and older/taller male by the window. I was afraid that everyone who saw us would start at me because of the seating arrangement and perceived this as an attack on my masculinity. Since mom never got the truck started, these anxieties are still stuck in my mind since I never saw how people would react once we were on the road.

I know I felt a lot of anxiety about the level of control mom had over me that day. That she could tell me where I was to sit in the truck; when I was to get in the truck; and when I was to put on my seatbelt and that there was nothing I could do but accept it since she was the parent. This was a time in my life when I was in a constant struggle with my mom for more control and I think that her having this control over me caused a lot of anxiety.

I felt a lot of anxiety waiting in the truck, because I was stuck buckled to the middle seat of the truck and could do nothing but sit and wait first for my sister and then my mom to come and get it. Once my sister got in, we had to wait for around 20 minutes for mom to get in. I remember it was really uncomfortable that she kept invading my space and putting her head on my shoulder and trying to put her arm around me and that I kept having to smell her breath whenever she talked. I remember I kept looking over my left shoulder towards our house and wondering what my was doing and why she wasn't anywhere near the back door.

Once mom finally got into the truck, I remember I felt a lot of anxiety having she and my sister on either side of me and being sandwiched between them. I remember feeling really uncomfortable when mom was leaning into my space to adjust the passenger side and rear view mirrors and now having to smell her breath as well as my sisters. While mom was trying to get the truck started, I remember feeling really uncomfortable being stuck between she and my sister and having to deal with her getting increasingly frustrated about the truck not starting up on my left while my sister was leaning into my space on my right to get a better look.

These memories compared to my earlier anxieties about riding between my mom and sister are the reason I get really anxious about riding in the middle. I think spending a long time buckled to the middle seat waiting for mom and then the truck not starting when she finally got in are why I feel the anxiety I do about waiting in a vehicle or buckling my seatbelt before the vehicle is started. I think before this, I trusted that if I went ahead and got in a vehicle and buckled that the vehicle would start and that mom making us wait forever in the truck and then the truck not starting was like a broken trust or promise.

Since that time, my way of dealing with these anxieties has been to try to avoid them at all costs. A few months after this happened, I turned 16 and got my drivers license and my parents got rid of the truck and gave me my dad's old car. I never rode in the truck again with my mom and sister after that time when it wouldn't start, and after getting my license and dad's old car I could offer to drive most of the time and avoid being a passenger and having to face any of these anxieties. Since then, I have only been a passenger in a truck a few times and only when I was with a friend and their girlfriend or wife and there was no risk of me having to ride in the middle. I am now wondering if avoiding these anxieties is the best decision as these only seem to get worse with time the longer I try to avoid them.

I have been thinking the past few weeks since starting this post and reading others on here, and am really starting to wonder if is is best for me to keep avoiding these anxieties or if it would be better for me to face them head on and see if doing so would help me deal with them better and be less anxious when I think about them.

I wonder if I just need to find a situation where I can face these things that case anxiety and ride in the middle seat of a truck and get in and buckle before the driver is ready to get in. I know it would be very uncomfortable for me waiting in the truck and riding between two people and having them in my space and that this could cause me a lot of anxiety. However, I wonder if I could handle these better after facing them again and if these would then not cause the anxiety they cause me now.

I would welcome and appreciate any thoughts form others as to whether facing these anxieties could help me to deal with and handle them in the future or if facing them would likely have no impact or make the anxieties worse. I would especially be interested in hearing from others who have tired to face anxieties and how that worked out.

I know I have plenty of time to think over this as I need to get to the other side of the Coronavirus Pandemic before I seriously consider being in a vehicle in close quarters with two people I do not live with. Just wondering if I should consider trying to face this.
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Old 04-17-2021, 11:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Strange Anxieties related to car trouble when I was a teen

Since the time I was having to ride between my mom and sister in the truck I have avoided riding in the middle, waiting in a vehicle for the driver, a buckling my seatbelt before the vehicle is started since they cause me so much anxiety. Normally, I am the driver and was normally a passenger in a vehicle no more than a few times a month prior to to Coronavirus Pandemic. My anxieties about these things have only gotten worse in the last 27 years, and have snowballed.

I am wondering if rather than trying to keep avoiding these, it would be better for me to find a way to face them head on. I could do this by riding in the middle of a truck and getting in and buckling my seatbelt before the driver is ready to get in. I know it would make me very anxious and on edge waiting in the truck and having two people in my space, but I wonder if after facing these things, I would be less anxious about them and could deal with them better. Unlike some other phobias that I have, I know there is minimal risk of injury or death if I try to face these.

I would be really interested in hearing thoughts from others who have faced anxieties about if doing so helped to deal the the anxieties better afterwards or if facing them had no change or made the anxieties worse. If I try to face them, I would want to wait until we get to the other side of the pandemic since now it probably would not be safe to be in small space with two people I do not live with.

Anything others want to share about trying to face anxieties would be greatly appreciated as it will help me to decide if I should try to face them in the future or keep avoiding them.
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Old 04-20-2021, 06:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: Strange Anxieties related to car trouble when I was a teen

I have different anxieties related to driving and have found that confronting them helps to an extent. For example, I used to consider myself incapable of driving in dense, city traffic because I would get so panicked. After exposing myself to it, I realized it is something I can do even if I don't care for it. You don't have a lot to lose by buckling up before the engine starts or waiting for the driver in the car. You can always change your mind if it gets to be too much.
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