Friday, April 20, 2018

Dysgeographica? Spatially Challenged? Geographical Dyslexia? Directional Disabled?

I can't drive. I can't find my way around even in places I've been to a thousand times. I can't judge distance. And if I turn left to enter the ladies or an elevator in the mall, I need to remind myself to turn right when I come out. I dare not even take a few steps away from my hotel in a strange city 'cos I know I wouldn't be able to find my way back unless I leave a trail of breadcrumbs! If I watch a Youtube tutorial on a hundred ways to tie a scarf, my brain can't register which way the scarf is being twisted or turned.  If I want to create something symmetrically, my brain can't do the whole mirror-image thing. I can’t look at a two dimensional drawing and translate it into a three dimensional picture in my head.

image credit -

When I was fifteen, I used  to ride my bicycle to my best friend's house  but was chronically lost. I had not one, but two accidents while cycling. The first was when I was knocked down by an oncoming motorcyclist when I attempted to cross the road. Luckily for me, I wasn't hurt. Just a few scratches and a bruised ego. I felt so dumb. My cousin who was cycling with me asked me afterward why the hell I crossed the road when the biker was so near. But to me, he appeared to be quite far away.
The second time, I was hit by a bus while cycling home from my cousin's house. I can't really recall what exactly happened. I vaguely remember the sound of screeching brakes and the driver alighting and yelling at me maniacally, causing a scene. I was more mortified than petrified! Miraculously, I was unscathed, not a single scratch. Perhaps the driver braked just in time. Or perhaps I have a powerful guardian angel who was working overtime, watching out for me. Ha! I bet he/she is relieved I don't drive!

The incident scarred me for life. I have since become dromophobic (fear of crossing streets) and vehophobic (fear of driving).

In today's liberated age, the idea of a non-driving woman isn't acceptable. "What? You don’t drive??!!" People would say, bemused and amused, looking at me like I am a wimp.  And when I answer that I am spatially challenged (I don't know how else to describe my condition), they think I am making it up just to find an excuse for not wanting to drive.

Recently, my younger son, Rodney, has been displaying some of the symptoms when he started to drive. He clearly has no sense of direction, lacks any memory of routes, can't find his way back to where he has parked his car, etc. He is perpetually lost just like me! Thank God for GPS!

It dawns on me now that some of his traits are related to this whole spatial awareness thing. For instance, Math. While he excels in all the other branches of Math, he just can't ace Geometry.

I feel really bad for passing this defective gene to him but now people give me more credence and understand that my inability to drive is not just a quirk of mine or that I am lazy or stupid. I know I sound like a bad mom but knowing that I am not alone in this is comforting. Believe me, I hate myself for having him inherit that flawed gene. It can be pretty hilarious when Rodney and I are out on an errand, even if it's just in our neck of the woods. It's a classic case of blind leading the blind!

Save for the two of us, I don't know anyone else personally who lacks spatial awareness. Looking back, I do remember an uncle who didn't drive. His wife was always at the driver's seat and it was a running joke between my aunts and uncles. Back in the 60s, a  non-driving male was less than a man and had no place in society. Poor guy! Perhaps, he too, was born without an internal compass.

There is no official name or write-up for our condition. Many websites lump this undiagnosed disorder with Directional Dyslexia. The writer of The Reading Well defined it as "Extreme difficulty distinguishing right from left and following a sequence of directions or retracing a path." But I disagree. Rodney and I have no problem distinguishing left from right or west from east. But we most definitely can't follow a sequence of directions or retrace a path!

I am often haunted by recurring nightmares of getting lost in a forest, inside a building, going to school, office, etc. I await the day when medical science can decipher the symptomatology, why our brains are wired differently and give us a medical term and cure for it.

Meanwhile, we have our own coping mechanisms.

Funnies .....

My Random Musings

Run Jump Scrap


Sandee said...

This would be awful. I'm glad you weren't hurt on your bike though.

Have a fabulous day. ♥

betty said...

Those funnies were funny :) But your condition doesn't sound like fun to "work" with, but it seems like you made the right choice not to drive despite people "giving you grief" about it. You knew your limitations and knew how to potentially prevent an accident from happening. But wow what an experience with those 2 accidents from your earlier days; thankfully you weren't seriously hurt. I get turned around but not quite like you describe. I always allow an extra 10 minutes when going somewhere new because I know I'm going to get lost. My husband on the other hand can go some place new once and 10 years later find it again without directions. Oh well! Hopefully, like you said, technology might help your son be able to drive and not get (too) lost (too) often.


Mary (cactus catz) said...

The comics are funny. It's hard when people expect you to be able to eyeball distances relatively accurately. I take a long time to make a left turn because I can't always judge how fast a car is coming and I'd rather be safe -- does get people behind me a bit unhappy but oh well. I understand how you feel although your spatial ability sounds more severe. It's rough on you not to drive -- but you can always tell people you are saving hte earth -- less pollution by taking the bus and sharing rides. We should all do that. And it's a lot better to be safe by not driving (or doing whatever) then to do what others expect you to do. No reason to be a lemming.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting on my post about Retirement!!

Lin said...

Driving is hard--you have to work your feet, hands, look in your mirrors and gauges, and navigate all at once. I think it is overload on your brain to do all those things. I get turned around and miss my exits when I am going somewhere I am not sure of. Routes that are routine when I am a passenger are suddenly complicated when I am the driver. If I am nervous and doubt myself, I will always miss my turn/exit.

As for spacial awareness--Joe has NO idea where his head is in relation to the rest of the world. He bumps his head on EVERYTHING. ALL. The. TIME. I can't believe he never learns.

So, are not alone.

Hena Tayeb said...

Oh that sounds awful. Thank god you weren't hurt.

indah nuria Savitri said...

Well, at some points I do have the same issues but not all! Stay safe..

Kate said...

Driving itself is hard. You're not alone. You had an awful accident but thank God you're okay. Thanks for your visit and comment to my blog. I appreciate it! Have a wonderful week and stay safe!

Teresa Kindred said...

I have a similar problem but not as bad. If you ask me how far off something is I can't tell you if it's twenty feet or fifty. I have no idea about measurements. But I can tell if they are close or far. I'm glad you weren't hurt badly but understand why you would have those fears!

alissa apel said...

I'm glad you are ok. I get lost easily. Sadly Isaak does too. He cried when he came out of a bathroom at a store, and couldn't find me. I used to think all downtowns were down - south. Ha! It made sense in my mind. I think many creatives have trouble with directions both with tests and in map directions. I see it a lot.

XmasDolly said...

Oh my goodness, isn't there any cure for that at all? hmmm Well, if I were you never go out alone. That's like totally creepy. I've always joked how I get lost going around the corner, but that is just weird. Unfortunately though when I get lost I totally PANIC!!! So, I always have a GPS close by or more phone is fully charged when ever I leave the house! So, I'm with you girlfriend... totally uncool when you don't know where you are or where you're going much less how to get there. GOOD LUCK!

Alex said...

You're not alone in having this condition because I know of at least one other person who has similar symptoms. My sister. She's dangerous when she drives, and yes, she does get in behind the wheel, despite not being able to judge distance, nor remember routes. And frequently gets lost if she drives alone. Even if she's only going for groceries.

So don't think it's just you or your son. I'm sure we all know at least one person with the same problem.

Amanda McCusker said...

That sounds like a tough thing to live with. Though, there is no reason to feel bad about passing it on, we all have things we live with and have to figure out how to overcome. I live in a city and rarely drive by choice. I love the ability to get places with public transportation, it allows more time to read ;)

Thanks for sharing your struggles. I loved the funnies. Hope you have a wonderful week!

Mellie said...

I have a hard time navigating in strange places! I can drive on the interstate just fine, but once I have to exit, I'm so lost. Even in familiar places, I try to plan my route before I go. Clint, on the other hand, can find his way around anyplace with no issues at all!!

Dave said...

What a condition to live with. Sounds like you are managing though. My wife can't drive, comes from a youth growing up in New Zealand and a number os peers being seriously hurt or even killed in car crashes (plus being the younger of her friends she always had a lift!). She tried recently but found it too stressful.

Interesting read. #ThatFridayLinky

Jenny Curtis said...

Your story reminded me of this article I read recently about a woman who found that her place in the world would just flip around so she struggled to get anywhere. Here's the link:

Driving can be scary a lot of the time, without having spatial awareness problems! #FabFridayPost

Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... said...

It must be so frustrating and other people's reactions don't help. I have been suffering from vertigo for the past 8 weeks so have given up driving until I'm better. I had no idea how much I relied on my car! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

Nigel Higgins said...

How terrible glad you were ok Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

Rhonda Gales said...

Oh Veronica. Thanks for being brave and sharing your story. Sharing your story must be somewhat freeing. Although being judged by others can be hurtful, you have weathered the storms. Thanks for sharing on Sunday's Best.

Ethan.n.Evelyn said...

Thank you for describing my symptoms! I think I too have vehophobic as well! I don't drive as I had a really bad accident with a buss when I was 17 yo. I was the drive and my younger sister was at the front with me. Luckily no one got hurt but the car was crushed. I'm 41 now and I still feel unsure of myself when driving. Glad no one got hurt in your cases too.

Thank you very much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

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