I got a rental car today, and I had not even driven 1/2 mile when someone pulled out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes. My heart raced and my chest hurt and I had to pull over and take deep breaths to calm down.
I also went to clean out my car today. It's still sitting in the tow-yard lot, waiting for the adjuster to take a look at it. I needed to pick up my office keys that were still in, and figured I might as well clean out the whole thing in case it gets totaled out. Here's what a car going about 45 mph looks like after plowing into the back of a mini-van.
Karen, my "contact in case of emergency" person warned me it wasn't pretty. I didn't remember what it looked like after it happened - selective memory I guess. And I thought I was ready to see it. But it shook me up. I had to pry open the driver side door in order to get in and clean stuff out of the glove box and console. Ever wonder what an airbag looks like after it's gone off? It looks like this:
Deflated . . . kind of like my driving mojo . . .
Driving away from the tow lot, my chest hurt again and I realized I was just one hyperventilation away from a panic attack. I forced myself to think about Starbucks, which made me realize I wasn't focusing on the road, which is why I got in this dang predicament, which made my chest hurt again . . .
The fact is I had an accident because I was distracted for a few seconds. This happens ALL THE TIME - to every driver. We notice the cute Halloween decoration, or the bicycle darting in and out of traffic or a funny license plate. Billboards and store signs are designed to get our attention - to take our attention off the road. (And don't even get me started on people who text & drive - ufdah.) We are taught in driver's ed that we must always have our eyes! on! the! road! - but the reality is that's just not possible. I should have been more aware of the traffic in front of me, but even if I had been, there's no guarantee that the person behind me would have been. Instead of the plow-er I could have been the plow-ee.
The random-ness of it all makes me feel panicky and fragile. My psyche is bruised. My body is bruised. My ego is bruised. I have to remember that it takes time for bruises to heal. That they change color through the healing process, but that just indicates that the healing is making progress. There's no way to rush the healing. So I am trying very hard to concentrate on breathing. And keeping my eyes on the road.