Narcissist, Take The Wheel!

The first time I saw a “Jesus, take the wheel” bumper sticker, it made me nuts.

Oh for crap’s sake. No. NO. Do not, under any circumstances, assume Jesus is operating your motherfucking vehicle. 

I don’t want to talk about religious entities.

I want to talk about malignant narcissism and driving.

My dad behaved as though someone was going to fuck him over, so he might as we might as well approach life on the offensive

Since my dad existed in a “pre-butthurt” state most the time, he had little patience while driving. You could feel the first swell of anger as soon as the engine started. He wouldn’t make it more than a few minutes before he was foaming at the mouth furious at another driver, a steering wheelpedestrian, or one of his kids.

Nothing was worse than driving on the expressway.

We were poor growing up, but my dad would never miss at least a week in Florida. That was life for him. Driving down and staying in Pompano Beach for a week was the pinnacle of success. Or at least a gasping attempt at not feeling like a complete failure.

I logged a lot of expressway miles with my dad.

Everyone else on the road was trying to fuck him over. They were all out to get him. Except the truck drivers. The truck drivers weren’t out to get just him, they just sucked. The truck drivers thought they owned the goddamn road and were all drug addicts.

If he went to the pass another car, my dad would insist they were speeding up, whether they were or they weren’t. He would say “Oh, lookee here. We got ourselves a racer.”

He would pass the guy, and then slow down, just so he could pass him again.

If another driver tried to pass, he would say “Look at Mario Pollack, here. Goddamn maniac,” Then, he would speed up and make it difficult for the other driver to pass.

I feel bad about using the slur, but I felt it would be helpful to highlight the charm that was my father.

Vacation travel was tense. Our safety, the safety of others, never ever came first.

His need to retaliate against every perceived slight was priority one.

I used to have anger issues. I mean, not scary anger issues, but not insignificant anger issues. I’m mostly better. I don’t know if my emotional maturity came in or if I just got tired of being angry because it is goddamn exhausting to be angry.

I say mostly better, because I still have anger issues in the car. I am quick to get annoyed by other drivers. They better react when the light turns red or I am cursing them hard enough to bend time. If they speed up when I’m trying to pass them, I have dark little fantasies about cars equipped with rocket launchers like in The Road Warrior.

I don’t want to be like my dad, so I am working on it. I’m not going to lie, the progress is slow, but it is progress. I read something in an article to imagine floating down a river and there are twigs and logs floating along with you. You wouldn’t get annoyed with them, they’re just there. Floating with you. Just imagine the other drivers as logs and sticks floating along beside you.

That actually helps me a little, to remember that. Until a goddamn twig won’t let me merge.

Still, I am working on it because I know it is my problem and I want to do better. My dad never would have. That isn’t something narcissists do.

Can you imagine what it would be like if someone like my dad were driving the entire country?

I fucking shudder to think.

Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Emily says:

    My husband was like that. He’s no longer my husband.

    I know I’m not doing well when I start getting angry at other people for being on “my road”. It’s an indicator of my emotional state…kind of like seeing a hag in the mirror. Reminds me to be aware. My perceptions are screwed up.

  2. Trish Lindsey Jaggers says:

    “Until a goddamn twig won’t let me merge.” This piece should’ve come with a warning like, “Don’t read this while consuming hot beverages or while holding one’s bladder.” Excuse me while I go change all my clothes (both the joe- and pee-soaked ones).

    Seriously, I grew up with such a father (adopted, so no biological link), and I find myself edging toward his behavior anytime there are more than three cars on the road with me. The difference between us and our fathers is we RECOGNIZE our follies and work to correct them for our and others’ sake–not defend our outbursts by blaming others.

    Now, the newly-installed roundabout in the city I must traverse in order to arrive at the place I’m paid to be at . . . let’s just say I feel that any driver seeking to renew his/her driver’s license must PROVE to the DMV he/she can actually correctly navigate said turnabout–not close their eyes and “go” as they seem to be doing . . .

  3. Donna says:

    I was in a total pre-butthurt (LOVE that term!) state while driving yesterday. It’s not an unusual condition for me when I get behind the wheel. What I find myself doing is chanting to myself – “calm down, calm down, relax.” On bad days the chant is more like “CHILL THE FUCK OUT ALREADY!”

    Me and driving – we’re not besties.

    • Michelle says:

      OMG me and driving are not, either. I really am trying. I only mildly chastised one driver this morning, but only because I have a headache and didn’t have the energy to yell at them. haha

      • Donna says:

        When my husband was alive and motoring around with me, he’d witness my mondo effort to keep from going full blown Rant Queen. So he’d help by yelling at the slow drivers, turn signal-free turners, dudes who thought driving was JUST LIKE a fast vid=eo game, etc. for me.

        Christ, he was hilarious – always made me laugh AND calm down.

        Also, if you cross paths with that dookie driver again (or any other dimwit who thinks they’re on a carnival bumper car ride, you owe some solid beratement. Us Road Valkyries have great sick time bennies but, ya know, ya gotta make it up once you feel better 🙂

  4. Liv says:

    Were you listening to me in the shower this morning? Because I had that very conversation with myself. It’s amazing isn’t it how you have to develop narcissistic behaviors to deal with a narcissist. But once they become ingrained, it’s hard to shrug them off. But you’re right. The fact that we recognize the behavior as unacceptable and try to change it is proof that we are not narcissists – because a true narcissist wouldn’t have that insight.

  5. Fiona says:

    “or I am cursing them hard enough to bend time.”. This is the most fantastic line and I have to learn to do this (I’m more of a Mutley mutterer, although I can roll my eyes so hard I’m surprised you can’t hear it over there).

    • Michelle says:

      It’s a skill that takes decades to master. I can still only make time flutter around the edges. I get the eye rolling thing. I can roll my eyes so hard that my mother feels it.

  6. Harry says:

    I can picture it.

    I’ve had to work on my anger issues, too. A lot of that is emulation – you handle adversity in the way you see it modeled as a kid.

    Meditation didn’t help. Sobriety didn’t help. Old age sort of helped – as I got older, I became less angry and just more… grumpy.

    I still grumble at other drivers, though.

  7. I wrote a post last year about trying to live in a more positive space. This paragraph came to mind: “And so I’ve begun the process of letting go. Of realizing that someone else’s reaction is not personal to me, but to them. Of not automatically reacting to a situation. Of not creating a problem where none exists, except possibly in my own mind. I’m kind of amazed at how quickly meditation has worked for me, and I’m excited to see where it takes me. What I like most is that I am more mindful of my negative thoughts. I don’t chastise myself when I become aware of them, but simply let them go. Somebody cuts me off while I’m driving? Instead of yelling or honking, I let them go on their way and hope nothing bad has happened to cause their inattention. But before you think I sound all goody-goody, I was completely calm and in a great mood last weekend when a man started rolling through a stop sign in a parking lot. I said “it says STOP asshole” before I even realized I had the thought! And then I cracked up. So I was mindful – yay! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . . . . . .”. Baby steps!

  8. laura says:

    After 911 I started letting in one car that was screwing up and needed to get over every single day
    I figured the world needed more kindness. It really took the edge off my rage.

    I mean, I’ve been the dumas who didn’t know the line foe the exit was actually a mile long, because I’m not local. I’ve been the dumbass, intently discussing important decorating or husband smothering otions with my best friend and missed getting in the line. And my GPS? Don’t even start me on what a dumbass it is. It says things like turn right after the gas station, when the four corners have a Pollo loco, a burger king, a mic d and a florist.

    So, yeah, sit happens, and I let people in front of me, and the warm smugness heals my rage

  9. Paula says:

    I was married to a Vietnam vet who yelled at other driver mostly using racial slurs. A therapist gave him an excuse that the freeway was a river so it was suppose to trigger his PTSD. Give me a fucking break. I would buy into it but he had an excuse for everything. I am no longer married to him. My kids were adults when I divorced him. They get it now. I have to drive 38 miles one way through Dallas to work. Going is not as bad as the commute home. I have subscribed to Audible so that helps tremendously. I still find myself wishing the car that zoomed around everyone would get stopped. The merging is the hard part. I usually let cars in because I feel sorry for them. I have to do it too you see. I figure it is Karma. If I am ugly to others they will be ugly to me. Then I have just am trying to come from a place of kindness. No one is out to get me, they just want to go home, too.

  10. Lisa K says:

    Someone JUST LIKE MY FATHER is driving the country.

    I don’t need to imagine it 🙁

    I saw pictures/Tweets by Barack and Michelle for Valentine’s Day to each other and it was calming and content and uplifting and all those feelings you are supposed to get when looking up to someone and feeling their feelings portrayed by the image/photo.

    Compare that to the immediate tightening of the gut and the building high pitched scream at the back and base of my head when I see/read images and words that DT puts out and we have the two extremes of existence.

    We can’t help our early lessons of how to react to life’s situations. They were literally beat into us 🙁

    But, just as you are ‘teaching’ yourself to have a different reaction and automatic response to the driving ‘head talk’ (which brought back ALL kinds of good stuff for me to practice a different response to 😉 ) I am trying to teach myself to pick and choose what to be upset about in the political scenario.

    Because. I live in a small town with very little traffic snafus… cross the street and you’re there. Throw the finger at whomever pissed you off and they’ll see it by the school cross walk where they have to drop to 20mph so, perfect viewing speed 😀

    But, the daily images of the pout face and fucked up finger typed messages are triggering me bad.

    Way bad 🙁

    And I can’t figure out the fine line between ‘learned my lessons well’ and ‘living in the past.’

    But fr a long winding drive to the beach…

    • Michelle says:

      yep. And I LOVED the Obama’s Valentine’s messages. So sweet.

    • Terri Lee says:

      Join my club, Lisa! It’s such a struggle for me. I want to stay informed and at the same time, I can barely manage to look at that repugnant face for longer than a brief second or two. I want to change the channel or turn the damned TV off altogether. He and Putin are birds of a fucking feather. The same cold, soulless eyes with nothing else going on except unbridled greed and the desire for power.

      • Lisa K says:

        And now they are having a good ol’ boy beatdown… Putin threw down a missile… How’s DT gonna ‘match’ and ‘raise?’

  11. Terri Lee says:

    “Oh, so that was YOUR dad!”. says the native South Floridian here. HAHAHA!!!! You are so right, anger IS exhausting. When I realized it also made my autoimmune condition worse, I began dialing it back and learning to just let shit blow on by. If you stop for two seconds and think about it, much of the time we get angry at shit that isn’t even important in the grand scheme of things. Number 45 in the Cuckoo’s Nest—I mean, the White House— has been a real challenge for me though. I’ve taken once again to listening to relaxation meditations to keep my stress levels even.

  12. There is a great Zen saying “you are not the target.” I try to remember that while driving in Los Angeles. Most people are just trying to get where they want to go and are probably unaware of me. That doesn’t mean I don’t MAKE them aware of me if they decide to text at an intersection and blow it for the next two cars, but I’m working on it!

  13. Haralee says:

    Many people think their car is their domain, their world and their sanctuary to keep safe at all costs regardless of impending harm to others. In my former career I traveled the entire West coast. Often other people driving me. I actually fired a person for his aggressive driving practices along with his piss poor compliance to company procedures.
    The best calming driving advise I got when in LA was, if you get to your destination it is good thing, nothing else matters. If you need more time to get to your destination that is your responsibility in planning your time.

  14. MC Abel says:

    That is the Thing with NPD: they are so fucking toxic they spead that shit like Typhoid Mary. My mother was raised by two NPD’s and sometimes she does that same thing. I recognize the behavior and try to breath through rage. So were my aunts & uncle on that side (different female narcissist) I have two younger cousins affected by it from the same branch. It is a very vile mental issue. And the thing is that the NPD person is all like ” what? I see no issue here” and walks away.

  15. Shani says:

    Backing out of a parking lot brings out my inner bitch. Just backing out. For some reason you’re a son of a bitch if it’s because you dared to park next to me if I can’t see. You’re a slow fucker if you’re walking behind my car and I see no reason why you can’t be moving more quickly. And if you’re driving through trying to find a spot while I’m backing out fuck you too. I know these are all unfair (or 95% unfair because some people are jerks just speeding through crowded parking lots) and it’s all because I am freaked out that I am going to make a mistake, but that is what sets me off. Mistakes are more than just mistakes to me. I mean, yes, of course, you have to be careful when driving and mistakes can cause accidents. But any sort of mistake, no matter how small, is a no no that has been ingrained in me. Whether it was an actual mistake or something that I only take as a mistake when it really isn’t–like asking the “wrong” question if that question sets you off on a tirade. I wish I could fight that. I hope one day to get to the point I can. I try and tell myself that recognizing it is half the battle.

    The fact that you know what you’re doing and that you’ve done it what brought it on, and how you fight for against it is another sign of your strength. It’s a work in progress, and may always be, but you’re way further than half way there. And you get to make us think while doing it! Be proud 🙂

  16. Doug in Oakland says:

    Well I could go on and on about the mental gymnastics I employed while driving a 20′ truck for my living for about a million miles, and I did come to some far saner takes on driving (YOU or I don’t get there faster, if anyone does WE do, etc.) but that would mask the (sometimes hilarious) actual thoughts I would have while navigating Bay Area traffic in such a vehicle. *turns to my helper Vincent and pronounces about the I-80 traffic crawling along at 5 MPH* “You know, it’s really too bad that the power supply for a 50,000 watt laser would take up the entire box of this truck, because if you zapped one or two of them, the rest of them would get out of your way…”
    Seriously though, driving is no joke, and I have seen the hideousness that results from failing to remember that you’re doing something with life and death consequences more times than I care to recall.
    I don’t think you can screen for personality disorders when issuing driver’s licenses, though, and sometimes I have to just marvel at the fact that so many people actually make it to their destinations despite all of the bullshit they shouldn’t be dealing with while driving. But the thing is, they do. Almost all of them. Almost all of the time. And if gritting your teeth and trying to be courteous is the best you can manage, you’re probably still OK.

  17. Every once in a while when I’m crossing the street in front of the building where I work some asshole will run the red light and almost hit me. Sometimes they give me the finger. Once a complete douchecanoe yelled, “Get out of the road!” like it was my fault for being in his way.
    I thought about that reading about your father and also thinking about a certain figure who’s very prominent in politics right now. The roads are there for everybody to use. It’s too bad there are too many assholes who act like the roads are just for them.