Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Reckless Driving (Lies, Fears and Messages to Self)
Last week my friend called to tell me that she was pulled over on the BQE (the Brooklyn Queens Expressway - a very fast, very crowded, not in such good condition highway that runs up and down the west side of Brooklyn with a sometimes view of New York City to the west). It was dark and she was rushing to a wedding and was lost. In an effort to turn around, she accidentally ended up on a sidewalk. She thought it was a turn off. When she was trying to get back on the road, two cops blocked her in and checked her out.
They eventually let her go, with a ticket for reckless driving. "What," she asked me, "exactly was I doing?" So we unpacked it a bit. "Start talking, " I told her.
So she tells me that the wedding she was headed to was the marriage of the daughter of her long time and very best friend. And that earlier that day she had spoken to her friend who told her, "Don't be late. You are always late, and for this, you better promise to be on time." To which my friend replied that of course she would be there on time. Wild horses...
"Why did you agree?" I wanted to know. "Well," she draws, "I know that it's important to be on time. I am working on this. I didn't want her to be critical again. I hate that."
And then my friend goes on to tell me that the wedding was in fact on a Tuesday night, the night that she has to stay late at work. And that she needed to stop home first to change and set up the babysitter for her four kids. And that when she was leaving (with still plenty of time) the younger one had a meltdown and she wished she could have stayed to soothe him since she had not seen him all day. And that she really did not think it would have been all that terrible to get to the wedding in time for the ceremony, and miss some of the reception since her friend would be busy with all the guests anyway. It would have given her an extra half hour of breathing room.
Okay, so what's my point. That she was driving recklessly on purpose. Sort of. Yes. That she was operating under her own set of lies and fears, and she ended up a half an hour late anyway. And it was a message. From her self to her self. From her self to her friend. That something somewhere was off kilter.
What were the lies and fears? Maybe that her friendship depended on her being on time. Or that what her friend thinks is the truth. Or that her own reasons and decisions are not good enough. Or that she has to do what other people say she should do. Or that she is a bad person if she says what she needs or does what is reasonable for her.
The trouble is this: we often take it out on ourselves. Sometimes intentionally, and sometimes "accidentally." We don't always know that we can slow down, think it through, consult a neutral good ear. We can tend to jump from one assumption to the next. And then turn onto sidewalks that in our confusion look like off ramps.
So what's the message? It's worth it to know and say your truth. And drive safely.