I'm still not sure if I even have OCD or not since my feelings of guilt or anxiety are relatively recent and I'm still warming up to the idea of seeing a therapist (I don't exactly have a stigma against it per se, I'm just worried about finding an individual person I can talk to and trust, but that's a topic altogether).
I've been thinking a lot lately about this time when I was about 19. I was a relatively inexperienced driver and I was driving to school on a multilane road traveling in the left lane when I heard sirens. I quickly look back and saw in my mirror that it was a little while away from me either traveling in my lane or the lane to the right (I don't actually remember at this point since it was a while ago and I haven't thought about it in awhile), so I pulled left into the left turning lane to get out of its way, assuming that it would pass in the left traveling lane (if you count the two left turning lanes and the right turning lane, it was a five lane road so getting all the way to the right may not have been the best option, although I only thought about this in hindsight mostly i went left instead of right because I was close to the left and there was less traffic on that side and I was focused on getting out of the lane the ambulance was in as quickly as possible). Anyway, in hind sight I should have gotten into the leftmost turning lane as there were two left turning lanes and I for whatever reason didn't go to the one closest to the edge). The next thing I knew the ambulance was behind me. Apparently, none of the cars in the left lane moved and the light had turned red so we were all stopped. It honked, and I moved up as far to the red light as I could, thinking that maybe it wanted me to save that traveling time, but I hesitated to go through the redlight and the fourway intersection. It honked again, I looked around wondering if I should go straight through the red, or pull in front of the cars to the right or left of me. Eventually, I decided to pull left in front of the cars in the left turning lane to the left of me, but I feel guilty for hesitating -- I think I even got the attention of the driver in front of that lane to signal that I was going to move in front of him, which in hindsight seems like a really irrational think to do while I was wasting precious seconds and I still don't know why I did that.
Anyway, now I worry all the time about whether the person the ambulance was going to survived, or was in pain longer because of my hesitation, and why I hesitated and what it says about me as a person (I'm not sure how long my hesitation was for as I don't think I would have been an accurate judge of time in that moment. Less than the light, probably less than a minute, maybe even less than this).
But, it set off me worrying about whether I get out of the way of ambulances with enough urgency. I'm definitely not someone who would ignore an ambulance, cut in front of it, or otherwise try to get in its way; however, I've been thinking that maybe someone else would assess the situation faster than me and move out of the way faster than me, especially years ago when I was first driving and when it took me a little longer to merge than it does now.
I' ve been trying to remember and replay everytime I've had to move for an ambulance and obsessing over my decisions which I realize is probably not productive. There was this one time that I was in the left turning lane about to make a turn in a highway that was one lane each way and an ambulance was behind me and there was lots of cars in the one lane to the right of me moving to the shoulder but i worried about needing to slow down to merge and thus slow the ambulance down so I made my turn quick, checked to see where the ambulance was going, saw that it turned too and didn't go straight and then pulled into a left turn lane on that road so the ambulance could pass in the other lane, but I probably broke the law by moving left and not right and I wonder if I slowed the ambulance down while it wondered where I was going.
Just this weekend, I was traveling in one road with two lanes each way and I slowed right before a right turn because it looked like a pedestrian was going to cross. I then heard a honk (not the actual siren) of what sounded like an ambulance and stopped so I could look in my rearview mirror and see where it was coming from, I couldn't see over the rows of cars that were behind me and looked and saw it passing into the oncoming traffic lane (which was clear) a car length behind me, when I saw it I went further right, which basically meant I mostly nosed-in the space (which was probably about half a width of a car length). I don't think it was behind me and I didn't hear it, I was near a firehouse and its possible that the ambulance just got a call and used there honking before the actual siren, and I don't think I could have delayed the ambulance much if at all, but I was thinking that I should have just gotten the half-a car's width further to the right right away, instead of stopping where I was and looking for the ambulance -- It sounded like it was coming behind me, I should have just moved.
Anyway, this is turning out to be a really long post, but as many of you probably know, it's the details and the little what ifs. Sometimes, i think I'm the only person that these kinds of things happen to, I mean come on, its an ambulance, you pull to the right and stop it's not that complicated, and yet it always seems to take me driving a car length or two when there is traffic to decide where to go and move? I don't know, does this sound reasonable, how long does it take you to move and have you ever been in situations where you weren't sure what to do or didn't react quickly enough? Should I feel guilty? or am I being unreasonable and unreasonably expecting real life to work like a controlled environment? Sometimes you think about something so long you just can't tell anymore.
I did read it, and it was very helpful to me. Thank you for slogging through both of my messages. You did provide me with comfort both times. So thank you. I guess the next thought always seems worse than the first : )
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