Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mazeophobia: Digging Deeper

Photo taken here.

“Honey, for our trip this weekend, would you drive and run errands for lunch?” my husband eagerly asked.

“Sorry, hun. I don't know the area. You do know I'm afraid to drive around places I'm not familiar with.” I replied with a regretful tone.

In the past, I have blogged about my fear of driving around unfamiliar territory, getting lost and getting anxious behind the wheel. My blog explained what it was and what it does to me. I thought I'd explain it deeper today.

Mazeophobia is the fear of being lost. I developed it when I was back home in the Philippines. I didn't even realize that I have it until I migrated here in America.

During one of my sessions with a counselor back in 2005, I shared my greatest fears, and one of them was (and still is) driving around alone and getting lost.

“You have mazeophobia, the fear of getting lost.” My counselor stated as she scribbled her pencil on the notepad she's holding.

“I guess, if that's what you call it. I don't understand why I panic inside. I freak out. I couldn't breathe, and I just want to cry.” I explained further.

“Do you drive back home when you were in the Philippines?” she curiously asked.

“I learned how to drive. My parents bought a car and named it after me. I passed the tests and got a license, but I was never allowed to drive. I had my own chauffeur. He drove me around wherever, whenever. There were no GPS or navigational systems then.” I shared while staring at the ceiling, lying down on the couch, my hands clasped together on my tummy.

“You developed this fear when you were little. You were never given the chance to really find your way on your own.” My counselor said.

When I applied for my citizenship in 2011, I had to go to different parts of the Bay Area for interviews and tests. To tell you the truth, I had to make practice driving sessions with my then-boyfriend-now-husband. He drove my car while I looked at the streets, memorized the routes and turns. I even noted down which parking garage I had to enter. It was totally robotic of me!

It helped me breathe easily, though. It got me comfortable behind the steering wheel when it became my turn to drive during my exam/interview.

“But, how did you do your Meetup events in the past?” One of my friends used to ask me.

“I carpooled at first and secretly memorized the routes and streets,” was my response.

I'm sure that there are a lot of people who wouldn't understand this feeling I have whenever I get that phobia attack. It's unexplainable. I could only share what it does to me.

It scares me, big time. My heart palpitates, I couldn't breathe, my already-sweaty-palms become sweatier (Hyperhydrosis is a different ailment of mine), to the point that I'd cry for the silliest reason of not wanting to drive around unfamiliar streets.

I'm not ashamed to admit that my fear is ridiculous. I developed it growing up. It's with me. I try to shake it off, but you'd see me shaking and crying. You'd probably laugh, yet my only wish is for you to wear my shoes when I'm feeling it. I didn't want it. I didn't choose to have it, either.

I struggled since my arrival here in 2001. I rode the bus and taxi cabs, familiarizing myself with the streets. Right now, I can say, I know a lot about 101, 880, 17, some of 280, 680, 80 and several inside city streets of the Bay Area. However, I haven't expanded much, and that means I still don't know a lot of places. Whenever I get asked to drive somewhere I don't know, my mazeophobia comes back crawling behind me.

For those who laugh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you don't understand how it is.

For those who understand, thank you.


  1. I understand it completely. I get lost really easily and when it happens, I start to cry and panic and forget the way I came and wonder how I'll find my way back. I keep road maps and atlases in the car, I have to mapquest stuff before I go anywhere and write it out in huge letters and keep the paper on the steering wheel for reference, and then write the return directions down too. It's not fun and it's not funny at all.

    1. Thanks for understanding, JoJo. It is difficult. I feel helpless, embarrass, and most of all, useless. I'm too dependent on someone when it comes to driving around. I'm eliminating it slowly, though. My husband is very supportive of me.

  2. I don't know you but I'm exactly the same way. I'm 18 and didn't get enough drivers experience. You're not alone.

    1. I'm like double your age and I still rely on my husband to drive. Yikes. Eventually, it eases out in time. I just need to undergo a run-through of the whole driving duration when I'm going somewhere unfamiliar.

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  4. Hey a fellow Filipina! Never heard of mazeophobia but I'm pretty sure you're not alone in this. I'm still afraid of getting lost in L.A. and I've lived here for years.


    1. Hey Kabayan! (Not sure if you speak Tagalog...)

      I think I follow your blog. I always enjoy your posts. I should practice commenting often.

      I'd probably get looney if I drive in LA. hahaha

  5. what is interesting - to me anyway - is how mazeo_whatever_its_name is, links up with the long term homesickness of immigrants in a vast anonymous and featureless continent such as NAmerica...thoughts anyone?

    1. Not sure who the immigrants you're referring to, but I surely am not homesick. I ran away and happier here. Emancipation at 30. LOL


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