“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” Nora Ephron
When I had forfeited my right to drive upon becoming diagnosed with epilepsy in 2008, (and I say forfeit because in the state in which I currently live, I was not required to hand over my drivers licence) it was an immediate and abrupt change within my life. A change in which I had thought that I would be mentally, emotionally and socially prepared for straight away. Little did I know how unprepared I truly was as time progressed. At first, it seemed like no big deal. A vacation from driving. Relaxation. How nice it would be to not have to be behind the wheel for once. Sure, I missed my car. I missed picking out my favorite music to drive to. Having the car to myself. Blasting the music and singing to it all alone (even at red lights when unsuspecting folks are watching). Sure I missed a variety of things that involved driving. However, I was faced with the reality that this was going to be the way things were from here on out. So I’d decided that it was for the best to make the best of the situation at hand.
Yet, as time progressed, as epilepsy and I journeyed on, I began to take notice just how challenging this transition was going to be from driver to non-driver. From no indication or forewarning of epilepsy entering into my life to epilepsy holding steadily to every part of me for a length of time in which there is no telling.
Asking for a ride to and from where needing to go to accomplish the things necessary always felt like a splinter to me. It hurt. It stung. I, an independent individual in some retrospects had found it uncomfortable, uneasy to ask for a ride. My emotions were capable. My spirit was capable. Just, my body was going through a pretty rough time leaving me incapable of driving myself anywhere.
I kept my drivers licence over the years, with the hopes that my epilepsy would begin to play nice and go away. Far far away. Yet, I still vowed never to drive for the safety of myself and others.
In time, I found a great joy within the other options of transportation. One in particular, walking! Good for your health and your wallet is extremely happy with the extra money that you would have put in your gas tank, for car insurance and other expenses. Sure, it takes a little longer to get where you’re headed but you cannot surpass the health benefits, the amazing feeling you get just being outdoors absorbing God’s great creations, and it gives you plenty of time to clear your mind. It’s inspiring I must admit.
However, there is one flaw to this one mode of transportation that I love so dearly. One flaw that gets downright under my skin. My Rights As A Woman vs My Right To Walk Safely. Lovingly, when raising the topic of wanting to take a walk, my husband voices concern of my safety for both the idea of a potential seizure and the idea of a potential perpetrator who might want to cause me harm. When a man chooses to want to take a walk, the man has very little to fear or to be intimidated by. The woman on the other hand must choose whether to arm herself with a man or a weapon such as a gun, a knife or taser for fear of being attacked, raped or mugged.
Women shouldn’t have to fear if they would like to take a walk throughout their neighborhoods, throughout the city, throughout the countryside, wherever they feel they would like. Alone if they so choose, so long as they walk responsibly. A walk should be an enjoyable experience. Yet, too often we as women are made to feel as though we couldn’t and shouldn’t be alone. How terrible a thing, isn’t it?
Now that driving and I have been apart for a good length of time, I’ve truly fallen in love with walking and I have seen the many wondrous benefits to it. I don’t believe that it should be a benefit that aught to be limited in any way to women because of the fact that well… we’re women. It’s a benefit we should enjoy. All of us! Without fear. Without worry. With or without a companion at our side.
Walking Alone Safety Tips
Role play what you would do if you are confronted by someone intending to harm you.
Have a ‘worst-case scenario’ plan. The best defense against an attack is awareness and a action. If you’re faced with an uncomfortable or dangerous situation and you’re able to escape, do it straight away. Only you can decide what you can or will do when faced with an attacker.
Stick to well-populated, busy areas. Avoid hidden trails, short cuts through secluded areas or lanes that are not well traveled. Stay where there is traffic and other people on foot.
Walk in the light and stay in well-lit areas. Don’t walk in dark parking lots, dark alleys, dark
lanes, dark trails, or any other dark areas. A well-lit path in a well-populated area is your safest route to wherever you’re headed, even if it takes longer.
Don’t shut yourself off from the world. Headphones isolate you from your surroundings and make it very easy for an attacker to surprise you.
Take your cell phone. Carry your cell phone and have it handy for 911 and other minor emergencies. Don’t make and take calls while walking – you’ll appear distracted. Calling someone before you leave and talking with them to give them the play-by-play until you are safe is OK. This ensures someone knows where you are if something were to happen.
Let others know. Always be sure to leave notice of where you are going and when you plan to return. If you live alone, leave a note to be easily found.
Keep your head up and look confident. Posture can make all the difference in how a potential attacker perceives you. If you are looking down, appear distracted or seem afraid you are more likely target.
Have your house keys ready in your hands and inside your pocket. When you reach your door, have your keys ready in the proper position. This will avoid a scrambling situation. When this happens, you are distracted.
If you feel as though you may be being followed, head into an open store, restaurant or lighted home. Trust your gut feelings. If someone gives you a bad feeling, tell him/her clearly to leave you alone – walk away.
If someone asks you for the time, keep your eyes up as you check your watch or phone.
Give directions from a distance. Do not approach a stopped vehicle.
Yell if you are under attack. Keep yelling. Yell as loud as you can. Scream. Be noisy. This may spook off the attacker.
I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!