This week has been the worst. Ok, it can always be “worse”, but seriously. It’s been pretty rough. I was already in what I call a “funk”, meaning most of my insecurities were being poked on and I was starting to get pretty down. Then, last Sunday, I was hit pretty hard on the front driver’s side of my car while traveling on I-4 in Orlando. If you have never spent any time in Orlando or on I-4, just picture five lanes of total chaos going 50-60 miles per hour. I was on my way to the jail (which I had to explain to the police officer pretty quickly after he heard me mumble, “Ugh, I’m supposed to be in the jail right now.”) It had just stopped raining one of those torrential Florida downpours that seem apocalyptic one minute, and then completely disappear the next. The car to my left was forced to hit her brakes, and she spun around and crashed into me. My front left wheel was bent in, but I was able to navigate the car just enough to get to the left shoulder. My car was not drivable after that, so we could not move off of the interstate.
I don’t know if you have ever stood on the inside shoulder of an interstate with five lanes of speeding cars on each side of you, but I can tell you it is terrifying. Not two minutes after our wreck, a car heading East bound fishtailed, spun out of control, and slammed into the opposite road barrier. At this point, both side of I-4 were backed up due to our wreck and his.
You know what I learned at this point? People are HORRIBLE! So many drivers slowed down just to honk at us and scream obscenities or let us know that we were slowing them down. Gee, thanks for the update, @%*#. I didn’t realize that my car was just totaled and I was inconveniencing your drive out to Animal Kingdom.
It took 30 minutes for the police to come. Over an hour for the tow truck to come. The poor gal who hit me was so upset – and she should have been. While I was more than ready to trade in the Sad Saturn (that is what my mechanic calls my car), she was driving a beautiful light green Mustang which was now in pieces. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say I stood with her and watched other cars drive over pieces of her Mustang. It was just sad.
Whether is was shock or pure adrenaline, I was super calm and even hugging and comforting the other driver. I wish I could tell you that my first call was to 911, but it wasn’t. My first point of contact was to two colleagues who work in the jail to let them know I wouldn’t be there for the service and someone else would have to take over. (My counselor pointed out the co-dependent, performance-driven nature of this fact, which I will address in a future post.)
A very kind friend went completely out of his way to come get us. We gave the other driver a ride to her friend’s house, and he brought me home. I was laughing and making car puns, and I am pretty sure he was questioning potential brain damage on my part. I got home, ordered some food, and curled up on the pull out couch in front of a movie with my pup.
I didn’t go to the ER. I didn’t even consider it. I had walked away, so I had to be fine, right? Nothing was bleeding. Buck up, kid.
I took a nap, and when I woke up to let the dog out, it hit me. I HAD JUST BEEN IN A REALLY BAD WRECK ON I4 AND I DIDN’T HAVE A CAR ANYMORE! My head hurt, and I was suddenly flooded with everything that needed to be done – all of the phone calls and paperwork gathering and how to get around without a car…so I went back to bed after talking to my family.
This will probably be a two-part post because so much good came out of this week, but here is my point right now: when I went to see my counselor on Thursday, looking for some solace and affirmation that wow, I had the worst week, what I got was a very kind and strong woman who looked me in the eyes and said, “You are not taking care of yourself.”
This wreck, and all of the phone calls and paperwork and recorded statements and borrowed rides that followed, has punched me in the face with this fact: I don’t practice what I preach and teach. It is so easy for me to tell other people how to build better relationships, take better care of themselves, and improve their quality of life. The harsh reality is that I am in the worst physical shape I have ever been in, I am mentally drained, and in a near life-threatening moment, my first call was not for help. It was to delegate.
That’s a hard hit to take.