The year was 2020 and it was my first winter living in Kawartha Lakes. This is an important part of the story. It’s also my first winter of driving. When I lived in Ajax (a) my husband had the car all the time and (b) on the odd occasion I needed to drive in the winter, the roads had been cleared before I got out. Consequently I never really learned how to drive in winter. I watched. I learned by asking questions. But I didn’t have any “hands on” experience. At least I was smart enough to lease a four-wheel drive Tacoma.
Keep in mind … I had a detached retina almost 4 years ago; three laser treatments, two bubble treatments and a sclera buckle later, my night driving can be tricky on the best of days.
Bringing it back to recent events. A friend of mine had asked if I could pick her up after work to drive her home. They were only calling for ONE centimetre of snow … I said sure! I saw something on the Weather Network about the lake effect snow ramping up but ignored it. This would bite me in the butt.
Well …. When I picked her up it was flurrying … enthusiastically but I wasn’t concerned. She hadn’t actually been to my place yet so we stopped in for a short visit. She lives out in the country about 20 minutes away from me (on dry roads).
By the time we left my place it was coming down like crazy and getting dark. The street I live on wasn’t bad but then I turned onto one of the main roads heading out of town …. It was ice. I mean ice. We all crept along at about 10 kph. She has a pickup herself and she’s pretty experienced so she guided me through, talking the whole way. We turned left to head to her place and tip-toed our way around the corner and slowly drove the long road to the outskirts of town.
Once we left the town limits, it was pretty smooth sailing. The roads were wet but no snow. So I picked up the pace and everything was going along tickety-boo until we were almost at her place. The snow picked up, it’s pitch black out, we’re on hilly country roads and I have no idea where I am or what I’m supposed to be doing. I was incredibly grateful to have her with me. She talked to me the whole way, helping me face my fears and keep moving forward.
I finally dropped her off and headed back to the “main road”. That’s where the fun begins. Thankfully I had someone in front of me about halfway home. The snow was accumulating fast and the wind was high. I lost my “guiding car” and continued on to the stop sign. All good so far.
Then I turned the corner … pitch black, snow coming down like crazy (remember, we’re in Kawartha Lakes so lake effect is the normal here) straight towards me so I couldn’t even use my high beams. I couldn’t see the lines on the road and there were only the occasional car that comes from where I was going to give me perspective.
I distinctly remember thinking … OMG I can’t do this. I need to pull over for a minute. As soon as that entered my brain, I thought “OMG no … worst thing I could do”. So I kept on trucking … I had my girlfriend in one ear, my ex in the other and I was talking to myself through this whole experience. It was pretty noisy in that truck …
The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. I caught up with a line of vehicles that were only going about 25 kph. It took a while but I got home. And the road that was previously icy now had enough snow on it to have some grip. It did, however, take about an hour and a large glass of wine to calm down.
What did I learn from this experience? I am stronger, calmer, more capable than I ever thought possible. I had just survived the two things that scared the bejesus out of me (driving in snow and driving in the dark) and I was stronger and more confident because of it.
So what’s the moral of this story? You are capable of so much more than you think you are. It’s so incredibly true … you don’t realize how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. That’s not a trite saying … it’s the truth.
So whatever you’re facing … whether it’s driving in unfamiliar territory, leaving a long term relationship, starting a business or dealing with a pandemic … you’ve got this. You may just have to look deeper than you’ve ever looked before to find the strength you need to reach the goal or flourish on the other side of a decision.
To bring it relevant to what I do, that was one of the most stressful, short term events I’ve been through in a long time. The cortisol was pumping out pretty good. The drive was my “sabre toothed tiger”. But once I got home and calmed down, cortisol levels returned to “normal”. The danger of being eaten by the tiger had subsided. That’s the way cortisol and stress are supposed to work. It makes you more alert, focussed and capable. That’s the healthy way your body responds to stress. Pandemics, unhealthy relationships, horrible jobs that suck the life out of us … that’s the bad stress. That’s where cortisol just keeps pumping and there’s little relief. When we’re stressed all the time, our immune systems become compromised, we are more prone to getting sick and our sex drives take a beating. The ironic thing … Sex is actually one of the best stress reliever out there.
If you’re feeling stressed or your sex life has taken a beating, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk.