The Hit That Wakes You Up

It’s hard to believe sometimes. That I’m still here; walking, breathing, conceiving. Conscious. Alive. When I close my eyes and picture it, that moment of grinding, shredding impact, I slip outside of myself.

I’m grateful. So grateful to be alive. The entire drivers side of my car is gone. GONE. Eaten away by the angry force of two vehicles colliding. I never saw the other guy coming. But I heard that his truck flipped 5 times, pancaking his pick-up. And yet, he crawled right out. I woke up to his frantic panic, trying to remain calm, telling me it would all be alright.

I will never forget that night. Never. It comes back to me in brief, vivid clips. Fragments of time twisted up with feelings of panic, chaos, horror and shame. The moment I woke up. Groggily piecing the events together as my blurred vision came into focus. My first initial thought, “Oh shit. I fucked up.”  Adrenaline escorting me out of the mangled bits left over from the crash. The voices of the EMTs as they loaded me into the ambulance. The shame I felt as they cut me out of my clothes. The shock. The looks. The amount of times I’ve heard to date, “you’re so lucky to be alive.”

Lucky. Yes. Absolutely. But when I crawled out of that wreck, I felt anything but triumphant. I fucked up worse than I’d ever had. And therein began my spiral into what I now know was truly my rock bottom.

I think you can hit more than one rock bottom. Each downfall reserved for every fragile facet of your life. I’ve had romantic/relationship rock bottoms, substance abuse rock bottoms, emotional rock bottoms. But this shit was the pits. I’d submerged myself into the brimstone inferno of my own personal hell.

Physically, I was broken. My ribs, internal organs, head split open, hand smashed, eyeballs cut up. I couldn’t even fucking see. That first shower at home when I finally left the hospital stripped me bare. After I managed to crawl from my air mattress to the shower, I just sat on the floor as the water ran over me. Dried blood pooled around the bottom, creating a crimson reflection to remind me that I should be dead.

I combed through my hair carefully with my shredded fingers, every part of me raw and scuffed. Gobs of hair fell out from where my head split. Staples holding my dead hair into place. I held them as I shook. The tears still didn’t come. I wasn’t ready. It still hadn’t all fully set in.

And the worst part? I still don’t remember a thing. All I can remember is waking up. say that with amnesia it starts to piece itself back together after time. Not this time. Three hours prior to the accident- it’s just blank. A dark nothing full of horrible possibilities. I can’t remember the impact. The blow of a truck three times the size of my car chewing through the engine, flipping up over ahead, over me. Crash, boom, smash. The sounds. The screams. It’s all been lost to the dark nothing that buries the things that our minds can’t handle and our hearts can’t hold.

But that boy. That poor fucking boy that I plowed into. He must remember every horrible detail. He must have saw me coming. Braced himself as my car crashed into his. The terror as his car rolled and crushed. He must have thought he was going to die. He must go through every day of his life thinking just that. Thinking that he shouldn’t be here either.

I know that I’m lucky to be alive. And I’m grateful for every moment of this life. But the weight of survival is heavy. It leaves a lot of residual damage. The guilt. The fear. The regret. The confusion.

There were days I didn’t bother to get dressed or leave the protection of my bed for days at a time. I started to withdraw. My injuries hindered me, money wasn’t coming in. And it was rapidly going out. My financial burdens piled up. I was broken and broke. If I didn’t get my shit together I risked losing it all.

I had two choices. Lay down and die. Or fight. I had to dig my way up from the trenches I dug and take control of my life. My life that I had destroyed in one stupid occurrence.

This wasn’t my first rock bottom, but it was definitely the worst. This was all my own doing. I wasn’t a victim of a situation I couldn’t control. And this time my mistakes had taken other casualties. I was my own worst enemy. If I had any kind of shot, I had to change.

I really took a look at my life and the direction that I wanted it to go in. I had to let go of romantic, idealistic fantasies that I harped on. I had to do whatever the hell I had to do to make it work right now. Put all of my passion, all of my dreams on the backburner. It was time to fucking hustle.

It’s been a long, drawn out uphill battle. The choices that I made that night, the outcome of the choices- they are a daily reminder of a direction that I will never again go in. Everything you do matters. Every choice that you make matters. It took hurting someone else to finally wake up and change.

And now I am that annoying advocate. Changed by experience. Please listen when I tell you, it isn’t worth it to drink and drive.

2 comments

  1. Another great piece of writing. I have been in some serious motor vehicle accidents myself and also feel fortunate to be alive. I leave messages to myself that i feel are worth remembering in part because my short term memory is not so great. At lunch today i read one of those messages. It reads : I wish all of the sins of the world could be forgiven and we start fresh:

    Like

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