Unfortunately, with my kids in the car, we were rear-ended on Friday. It was very traumatic for my daughter, and when my son learned he was missing his baseball game and first time as starting pitcher, upsetting for him as well.
I heard the car coming. I clenched my hands, tensed my back and neck, and gritted my teeth as I watched the car plow into me and push my car into the one in front of me. I know that being relaxed would have served me better, as I sit here still sore and aching, but knowing didn't override my body's automatic reactions.
The next day my son asked me to take him somewhere. We had to get there quickly as they were closing and the street we would have to drive, like the one we had the accident on, would be filled with stop and go traffic. I tensed again. I looked at my husband, eyes pleading, and said, "Your father will take you." My son said, "No, I want you mom."
My husband, happy to stay ensconced on the couch said, "See you later."
I looked at him pleading him again with my eyes, unwilling to admit that I was nervous to drive in stop and go traffic. He was not getting it and time was running out, the store would be closed soon.
"My car was towed. Honey, you take him."
"You can take my car." I thought of the huge, heavy, hard to stop truck he was telling me to drive. I have a mid-size sedan. I don't enjoy driving his car on a normal day. Today it seemed treacherous. Yet I did not want to admit this fear. I looked at my son and knew I didn't want his life in my hands again.
I admitted my fear and got the flack I expected. I was left alone to research concussions and think about what I was feeling. I cannot stop driving. In fact I love driving, fast. I purposely take the longer way to work because it is a fast, curvy, bumpy road; in short fun.
I have myself scoffed at people before for letting a fear stop them from doing a normal function of daily life. I in fact know someone who will not drive and someone else who will not drive on the freeway, another will not go over bridges or drive at night. I never mocked or berated but was internally shocked at their seemingly inane limitations on their lives.
I had to go to work later that night and I had to drive the large, hard to stop truck. I was fine but I did drive a bit slower, left more room when I stopped and I noticed the fog rolling in. It was at the level of the road on my way to work. Normally I would have returned home the same way but instead I went inland to avoid the fog when I drove home two hours later.
Internally I was berating myself for being a wuss. Why would I be doing that? I had an accident, one that I am still feeling the effects of. Aren't we supposed to learn from our mistakes?
If I continue to act in the same manner as before this accident is doomed to repeat itself. Yes, I was at a dead stop but I was too close to the car in front of me so when the driver behind me failed to stop she plowed me into that car, making the accident worse.
I do need to rethink my actions and change my behavior but I cannot let this accident dictate my behavior out of fear. Caution to protect my children and myself yes but fear that stops me from thinking rationally and gives into the tiniest of voices saying don't drive yet, don't drive the kids, would only reek havoc on our lives and would not be helpful. If I give in to that voice I could be such a tentative driver that I would cause more accidents and not avoid them.
I have learned from this accident how precious life is and that stopping further behind a car and traveling further back based on speed is something I will start doing now. I would be an idiot to make the same mistakes and expect a different outcome. It is not wussy to make the safer choice it is wiser. Me and everyone else out on the road have a lot to live for.