When did it start? Was it when I saw the accident in Dubai? And the blood was seeping through the plastic cover? Or was it when I was driving at 4 in the morning to go to my job in Hamilton? Or when I was crossing the Kaimai range when I took the children to visit the coromandel, which was a great drive between mountains and the phones do not ring, you could take pictures with your camera, which was what we used in those times.

Back to the point, that early morning drive started as a great day, no rain, dark, the highway was quiet, and everything was perfect. I was listening to the four o’clock talk on the radio, while just loving everything about my life, my job, the country I was living in, and my drive.

Suddenly a truck comes from nowhere and stays tailing me for a long time. I reduced my speed, to give him chance to take over, but he also reduced the speed, I can see his face on my mirror, and it’s as if he was saying, move fast woman!  After about half an hour, there was a petrol pump, I went in even though I didn’t need fuel; my heart was pumping and my hands were sweating. I never had such a feeling before; it was the first time.  I was thinking that the driver was drunk and wanted someone to mess with, and he found me.  After what sounded like ages, I went on the highway again, and drove normally until I reached Hamilton.

I forgot about the incident, until we took the road to go visit our friends in Whakatani. To go there you need to cross the Kaimai, which was a piece of cake, and we have done it many times before but my husband drove.  Half way through the drive came a narrow road and many cars were tailing me, there were many cars and lorries in front of me too, I cannot overtake them when the road widens, my hands were slippery on the steering wheel and when we finally got the end of the road and we turned left, all the drivers behind me gave me the fingers.

All was good again until the wicked drive to Fujairah one day.  I can see my car slowing down, I thought something is wrong with the car instead of me.  It seems the truck drivers can feel that something is wrong with the person driving that way, one of them blocked the road, and another came beside me asking me to go to the side of the road.  I came down of the car while he checked it, he found that nothing was wrong with it. I went to the closest petrol pump, bought lots of sweets and a box of tissue paper. I don’t have time for this nonsense, so I will kill it by just wiping my hands.  I completed my drive, had my meeting, and returned home. The 50 minutes drive took 3 hours. And my heart is still pumping hard.

One day I drove to Oman, it normally takes four and a half hours at most, and I did in 9 hours, same symptoms, wet hands, pumping heart and hot face. My daughters were with me, and they were worried, both young and couldn’t drive, it was an impossible thing, when I reached home I thought that I must hire a driver, as life is too precious to have those silly feelings.

The feeling continued, but I stayed on the road, trying hard to forget the feeling. Many trips to Abu Dhabi, Alain, Sharjah, Ajman and in between Dubai highways too. I start my trip with loads of readings, I put music on, or I let the Quran channel on, or I just hear a video or a story recording. My life as a driver had officially ended.

I was always a fantastic driver, keeping the country’s speed limit, enjoying the scenery, watching the other drivers and being sick of how they are menaces on the road. It just happened suddenly not sure what happened or what triggered it, so every time I am on the highway, and there is a car behind me, I get that feeling again.

My hands sweat as if there is a shower nozzle inside it, my heart pumps, I feel my face turning hot, and my foot takes itself away from the accelerator making the car slow down. The rest is history, either the person behind me moves, or I move to the right and give way. Our highways are way wider than New Zealand’s ones, over there it’s a two-way road with a sign that a takeover will happen soon, when the road suddenly widens allowing the fast drivers to take over the slow ones.  I am the slow one then, and the slow one now.

I had to try something, I went to a hypnotherapist, she did her thing and then she said just wear gloves while driving so it absorbs the sweaty hands; something is better than nothing, I thought. Knowing me, the first thing I did was to buy the damn gloves, wore them, when they soak I fiddle with them to remove them, which makes me a more dangerous driver than what I am already am. So one day I threw them out.  I thought I might as well hold the tissues than have a glove full of water. When I finally reach my destination, I have killed a tree, as the whole tissue box will be over.

Then I tried other things, like praying to god to heal me (when I went on my pilgrim last year). Something happened, I had forgotten about my prayers, but noticed that no matter who sticks to my tail, I am not bothered, I drove normally. That worked for few months, and suddenly the other day the pink panther had struck again. My car will just not move, so I changed my way and drove through the ordinary roads instead of the highway, which as you know will take longer time than necessary, better safe than sorry.

So this is how the phobia works, some people are afraid of the dark, some people are afraid of the crowd, some are afraid of flying, but not me. I can list down the phobias that people have, and I don’t have, how will this help me get over my phobia? Shall I just ignore it, or find a driver, or stay at home and never drive again in my life? And by the way, I cannot drive a bicycle either, not sure why, so please don’t say ride a bike!

Let me tell you something, life moves on with us or without us, my advise to all of those that have any phobias to just forget about them, as they will be there in ones brain, there are no tablets or medications that will help you and wont harm you. Maybe, it’s a blessing in disguise, don’t worry and get the symptoms. it’s your body’s defense mechanism against something unknown to you.

P.S. my other phobias are swimming in a deep swimming pool, waking up one day and finding that I don’t know anyone in front of me, and riding a motor cycle.