About 6 years ago, my husband told me he wanted to get his motorcycle license. I supported his desire to get his license; however, lets be real I was a nervous wreck thinking about him being on two wheels. All the worst-case scenarios surfaced…
“What if he gets in an accident?”
“What if someone doesn’t see him on the road and hits him?”
Literally, any and all thoughts about him falling and getting hurt were on repeat. Lucky for me, we started a business and his dreams of riding fast where put on hold.
Fast forward to recent years. Our business was running, and my husband had the itch again to get his motorcycle license, but this time he wanted me to ride too. To say I was scared was an understatement. All the worst-case scenarios resurfaced and were more intense.
“I can’t ride with him. What if I fall off?”
“What if we get in an accident?”
We kept talking about his desire to ride along with all my fears about motorcycles and riding. We agreed the best way for me to overcome my fear was to use exposure therapy.
Exposure therapy is used to help with anxiety by exposing the person to the anxiety source. That is what we did.
I started with motorcycle school. I went to a full day of motorcycle safety training and riding. My nerves were high as I had no clue what to expect with this class. However, it was the most beneficial part of this process for me. I still remind myself of the information I received in class to calm my nerves when most anxious about my husband and/or I on the bike.
After the classwork was completed, I felt more confident to be around a bike until I had to physically get on the bike. In order to get your motorcycle license, you must be able to show your abilities by riding a motorcycle. At this point, I was visibly shaking and internally anxious.
Everything I just learned went out the window. I could not remember how to change gears or start my bike. I was ready to jump off the bike and quit, but I challenged myself to stay on the bike a little longer. With my husband and instructor’s guidance, I was able to turn the bike on and get more comfortable with the gears.
That day I did not ride the bike or move on to get my motorcycle license, but it did help me reduce my fear about motorcycles.
Another time I used exposure therapy was going for a ride as a passenger. My fear was still high at the time. My husband reassured me that we would be riding around the block only and to trust him. If you have dealt with anxiety before, you know the struggle to be calm when not in control is hard. To be calm, I challenged my anxious thoughts. I repeated, “My husband is a good driver” as we rode around the neighborhood.