Processing My Car Accident

May 12, 2015

Processing My Car Accident - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

It’s been almost three weeks since my car accident, and enough time has passed that it doesn’t feel fresh anymore. It’s okay for me to write about it now, much like I had to wait months to write about leaving nursing school because the intensity was just too much when it happened. 

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook the night after my scariest car accident: 

Last night I was involved in a car accident: totaled car, air bags deployed, fire trucks, the whole nine yards. Fortunately, no ambulances were necessary and I’m amazed I managed to walk away (trembling, but still walking) and not have an anxiety attack. We no longer have a car, and I’ve got some neck pain, but it could have been so much worse.
One thing I’ve learned in the twenty-four hours since: traumatic events create a space for growth and perspective. I have been in too many accidents for only 33 years, but I can say I know what they are like from all perspectives. I know what it’s like to be the irresponsible teenager who is at fault with an injured passenger. I know what it’s like to be the injured passenger in a car where your friend is driving, and they are at fault. I know what it’s like to crash and no one is at fault, only Mother Nature and an icy parkway. And now I know what it’s like to be the slightly injured driver in a crash that wasn’t my fault at all. Events like this can bring out the worst or the best in people: it’s up to us which way our thoughts and actions will go. Compassion, or anger? Perspective, or short-sightedness? Acceptance or denial?
Have you ever had a traumatic event that sent you to one extreme or the other? Did you feel you were lacking compassion, or immediately trying to place the blame on yourself?

And now, my thoughts three weeks later? I still feel incredibly thankful that it wasn’t worse, and I wasn’t seriously hurt.

I’m thankful that it happened close to home, so Andy could run over as soon as I managed to call him (this was a double-edged sword, of course, because I can’t avoid the this intersection and so faced flashbacks and anxiety in the week afterward).

I’m thankful for the good Samaritan driver behind me, who stopped to help me, let me use her phone, and stayed to give her statement to the police.

I’m thankful it wasn’t worse for the other driver and his passengers, because they are only teenagers and have their whole lives ahead of them. I would have been even more upset at the scene if they were hurt, even if it was their fault. 

I’m thankful for my parents, who helped us find a new(er) car in only a few days, one that we like and runs well (and gets the same gas mileage as our Civic did)!

Of course it wasn’t all gratitude and positivity and wisdom at first; I was also angry and frustrated and more anxious than I’ve been in a long time. Car accidents are stressful. The aftermath is stressful. There’s just no way around that: dealing with insurance companies and tow truck companies, finding, purchasing, and registering a new car, and working through some complicated emotions is a lot of work. That’s where I’ve been lately, in a heightened state of stress. When not dealing specifically with accident-related things, I’ve been working, trying to have fun  friends and family, being sick with allergies and pink eye, and spending a lot of time outside. 

It felt particularly stinky because everything was going wonderfully right before it happened. My last post before the accident is titled My Time to Shine! There I was, expounding on possibility and joy and love, and then it all seemed to crumble with the crash. I was derailed, and I still feel like I’m trying to get back on that track. 

More than anything, this car accident reiterated for me how unfortunate things can happen out of nowhere, despite any and all precautions on my part, despite not doing anything illegal or out-of-the-ordinary. It’s a reminder to not take anything for granted, to practice gratitude, and like I said above, to practice compassion and allow the room for growth and perspective. 

It’s not always easy, but I’m trying.

Processing My Car Accident - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

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  • AwesomelyOZ May 12, 2015 at 9:29 am

    So happy you are well and recovering smoothly both emotionally and physically. Those moments can really flash in your face how short and precious life is; also the unpredictability of it, one minute we’re here and the next we could not be we don’t know. Also helps put things like anxiety and depression into perspective because at least you’re alive right; you are managing it very well so kudos! Take Care Christy and have a great one!! -Iva
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  • Peggy Gilbey McMackin May 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Christy, So happy you are ok. Was not expecting such news on your Post and hope you will continue to resume feeling better and better as the days and weeks go on. Take care of yourself and Very Best Wishes.

  • Anabel May 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Oh my goodness, what an awful thing to happen. So glad you (and the other driver) are ok.
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  • Jessica H. May 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I’m happy to hear that you’re doing okay. I’ve been in a couple accidents myself and thankfully came away without a scratch (although the first left me with a burn from the air bag). It seems like you took this accident and looked at the positive that came from it instead of letting yourself wander into negativity, which is often so easy to do. But you’re okay and the other party’s okay and, in the end, that’s all that matters! 🙂

  • Rachel May 12, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    If anyone ever needed a sound dose of perspective, they should read this. I’m glad that you are okay and have found a new ride already. I found myself recently reflecting on a similar situation when I found myself at the church in front of where I was in an accident caused by the ex-boyfriend of the bride. There’s a metaphor there somewhere…

  • Tamara May 12, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    All of the thoughts you have seem like the ones I’d have if it were me. I still hope and think you’re on the road to shining and positivity this late spring/summer. I know it. I’ll even come visit with doughnuts if you ever need it!

  • Life Breath Present May 13, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I’m glad you’re safe and we’ll. I’m sorry to hear you were in an accident. It’s also good to read some of your reflections and processing. I’ve done the same before. It’s interesting how reactions from different people manifest. I choose the gratitude and compassion route, even in the midst of anger or anxiety or what have you. 🙂
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  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine May 13, 2015 at 7:24 am

    I’m so glad you are okay :/ Sending all my love, but you are right. These things can happen at any moment, any day. We can’t take the life we do have for granted!

  • Deb May 13, 2015 at 8:14 am

    I commented yesterday, but it doesn’t appear! SO thankful for your being safely brought through this recent “bump” in the road. Yes, I am practicing being more grateful too…especially for each of my precious blessings –that includes YOU!

  • Kelly May 13, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Thank goodness you’re okay. Nothing about this is easy, but it sounds like you’re making the best of it. Be gentle with yourself and take it one day at a time. (Gentle) hugs.

  • Rabia @TheLiebers May 14, 2015 at 8:17 am

    I’m glad that there were no major injuries. Car accidents are awful in so many ways. Once you get over the fact that you’ve walked away you now have to deal with insurance and finding a new vehicle and not being terrified to drive again. I hope things continue to go smoothly for you.
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  • Rea May 15, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Thankfully you are fine Christy! And I can see how you are looking into the bright side of things and trying to not let anxiety rule over you. I’m always the passenger because I don’t have a car and believe me, I’ve seen so many accidents on the road and they’re scary so I can empathize with how you must have felt that time.
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  • Jenn November 19, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Glad you’re okay! It’s amazing how long the anxiety from car accidents can stick with us. It’s been 4 years since I was in an accident that totaled my car (air bags, fire trucks, 4 cars involved!) and every time I pass where it happened, I get really tense. I get hyper-vigilant about the cars all around me. I can’t focus on conversation. And if I’m the passenger, I tend to get into a defense stance. It’s awful!

  • Rob Benton December 18, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I agree that mentally processing a car accident is difficult but important, and I feel that car crash attorneys are actually a good resource for this. Growing up, my family got into a few minor accidents. As a result, there was some mental and emotional processing that needed to take place. Looking back, I wish I would have turned to professionals for help with this.

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