A usually pleasant journey home from my son’s house was turning nasty –and not just the weather.
Foggy darkness coupled with slanting rain on a curvy road made the speed limit categorically unsafe. Rather than fast and faster, I drove slow and slower as visibility lessened dramatically. And it made a guy in a pickup behind me angry.
Turning on his brights he loomed dangerously close to my trunk, so much so that it looked like his headlights were sitting on it. Meant to be intimidating, it was. When I didn’t immediately pull off to the side he applied his horn. Now I was mad.
Not only was there no place to safely pull off, I was blinded by his lights in my rearview mirror even though I had already adjusted it for nighttime driving. To make matters worse, my side mirrors repeated left and right his blinding attack –making the inside of my car look like a football stadium lit up for Super Bowl.
Given two choices –drive into the ditch and die or drive on and get run over by his road rage– I did what any recovered-from-bullying-domestic-violence woman might do: I turned down my mirrors.
The results were immediate. Even though I couldn’t help but be aware of his menacing presence, I was no longer subject to his harassing beams of white anger. In fact, I was able to concentrate on the hazardous road ahead rather than becoming panicky or confused by his assault. A familiar calmness filled my heart in spite of obvious peril –though I admit to a whispered expletive.
Eventually he backed off. Perhaps he realized I was going nowhere but carefully onward. And somewhere between there and home the road behind me darkened, the fog dissipated and the rain let up.
Later, remembered lessons came to me gently: When self-esteem is low –turn down your mirrors! When unwarranted criticism threatens to derail self-confidence –do not allow another person to dominate. When bullied in any way that destroys self-awareness –stay firmly on coarse knowing that you deserve better. Do not retaliate, do not antagonize, do not lose your sense of direction.
I imagine my assailant made it home safely . . . I know I did.