Wrecked.

I had a scary wreck yesterday with Nikki in the car. WE ARE FINE. It was terrifying and I wanted to kind blabber about it bit for a minute because 1) I want to document the feminine magical forces that wrapped us up and held us and 2) my shame at not being able to be the best version of myself in times of crisis.

LET US GET INTO IT NOW, SHALL WE?

Women are magical.

So, we are sitting at a big intersection in front of a shopping center. The light turned green and I went to make my left turn (no oncoming traffic) and then I see someone running the red right at me. I recognize it now as a “trying to speed up and make it before it turns red on a yellow” kind of move which I usually watch for, but we were chatting and I just saw the green light and did my thing.

Luckily I did see him so I slammed on my breaks and he swerved so he only caught my front bumper with his car but he was also slamming on his breaks so he spun quite a bit and I watched it terrified he was going to flip over. I immediately panicked he was hurt when he jumped out of the car and started screaming AT ME that my light was red! It was insane.

ANYWAY. I was frazzled. Between the wreck and him yelling my brain just shut down. Enter WOMAN #1. She comes up to my window, checks on us. Double checks on us. Triple checks on us. And helps me get my brain working again. She encouraged me to see if my car would start and try to pull it into the lane behind the other car so I’d be out of the intersection. She was an angel and she disappeared.

Enter WOMAN #2 and WOMAN #3. They both sat with me while I called 9-1-1 and one of them saw everything (she was turning right next to me and saw the light turn green and noticed he was still flying through the intersection). She had written down his license plate number which would come in handy later. They both kept checking in on us and asking if we were okay. They followed me to Waffle House (I did not want to where the guy yelling went) and stayed with me until the cops came. They turned in their statements telling him that I definitely had the green light and they continued to offer to help us in any other way. Get us water. Drive us places. These two women didn’t know each other but they had formed some sort of team to help us and I wasn’t able to soak in the magic until after BUT IT WAS MAGICAL.

The cop got our statements and went to find the other guy at at a different restaurant parking lot. Enter WOMAN #4 and WOMAN #5. An SUV pulled up at Waffle House and asked if we were the ones in the wreck. They had seen the guy leave the other parking lot, almost cause another wreck, and head over the mountain in his smoking car. Just then the cop came back and said, “He’s not there,” so I told them what the women had told me. Luckily, I had his license plate number from Woman #3 and I gave it to the cop but these women in the SUV had his plate number AND they had taken pictures of his car that they texted me! They offered to stay with me and they were lovely and kind.

Nikki and I were pretty frazzled the entire time but afterwards we just kept laughing about how women came out from EVERY CORNER. In your head you think about a Damsel in Distress and how the prince comes to save her but here we were, one woman and one young girl in a wreck and 5 women circled their wagons to help us. It was just spectacular and something I’ll never forget. I wish I had gotten any of their names so I could thank them. Now…onto the next part.

Why Does My Brain Fail Me When I Need It Most?

I hate the way my brain responds to stress. The same part of my brain that makes embarrassing decisions in social situations is the same part that fails me in a crisis. My brain completely shut down yesterday. N was upset but I don’t think I served her well at all until about 30 minutes after the wreck. I mean, I checked on her? But I was stuck in this confusing loop of not knowing what to do and being upset by the crazy guy yelling at me and then driving off in his truck and then this weird feeling of being crazy because he told me my light was red (thank god it was still green and those other women stuck around or I might have been successfully gaslit) and then just embarrassment that pieces of my car were in the road and I was standing there with my hands on my head and not knowing what to do. It took me a solid 5 minutes to call 9-1-1 and even then my brain had entered “dumb joking mode” and so in retrospect it’s like I wasn’t taking it seriously.

I just wish all of the calm “you should/could have done this” thoughts I have later could shout through the fog in an anxiety-filled moment. It’s the same with social situations when I say/do something dumb and later I just keep kicking myself. I just hate everything about the way I handled myself in the 20-30 minutes after the wreck. It was like I was 10 years old and needing someone to explain how the world worked. I wasn’t the support N needed in the sense that the part of me that interprets her behavior had shut down and I just kept annoying her by saying, “Are you okay?” I didn’t get anyone’s names who helped me. I’m not even sure I thanked the first lady.

I know everyone’s brains go into various forms of “shock” in those kind of situations and I know I should be kind to myself and practice grace but I’m still too mad and embarrassed at how frazzled I was the whole time. I just kept saying, “Why did he yell at me?” I mean, I was worried about HIM, the guy who RAN THE RED LIGHT AND ALMOST KILLED ME and he, on the other hand, gets out of the car and starts screaming at me. I was hyper-fixated on that. “Why was he yelling at ME?”

Maybe that’s why so many women stayed and helped. None of them could believe it too but we’ve all been in situations with that guy and they wanted to reassure me and protect me.

I don’t know. I’m just mad at myself and want to re-do everything. Well, first I want to wait a beat before entering that intersection. Like I said, I usually do that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone do what that guy did and thought, “Jeezus, glad I’m not quicker off the line on a green.” And this time? I was just in my own world I guess, talking to my daughter. God forbid I go on a green.

Anyway…I just wanted to document all of this because I hoped it would help me shake the funk off today.

8 thoughts on “Wrecked.”

  1. Not long after I got my license I was reversing and had a minor bump. I completely panicked. The other guy got out and said well there is no real damage lets just forget it happened. My brother was in the car and helped calm me down but it was a week later when I realised that the other guy had hit me and not the other way around.

  2. Thank goodness for the power of magical women. I’m glad the two of you are okay, and that his license plate # was gotten. I’m grateful to those women for helping gather you two up and give you the space to find your “feet” again.

  3. SO glad you two are ok!

    And, take it from someone who has been in more car accidents than she can count with both her hands, your reaction afterwards is completely natural!!! I have never acted rationally after any of them! ?

  4. Thank goodness you’re both okay. After reading this I will now be the one who follows my instincts when they tell me to stop. I always talk myself out of it “oh, it looks like they have plenty of help” or “maybe they don’t want my help”. Your experience shines a light on why I need to listen to my instincts more.

  5. This was *exactly* my thought too, Cheryl!
    Thanks for sharing your story as a reminder to all of us, Kim.

  6. So glad you’re okay! I know exactly what you’re talking about. I haven’t been a part of a single accident where I didn’t obsessively go over all the things I could have done differently. Those women are amazing! It’s a good reminder to be that person for someone else in the future, when you can tell they are in shock and not operating at 100%.

  7. How scary! I myself freeze uselessly at something as simple as the smoke alarm going off, so I’m sure I would do the same only more so in a case like that. I’m so glad the women were there for you!

  8. So glad you both are okay! And I’m tearing up at the kindness of the sisterhood. I hope to God that this sort of caring for one another can spread regardless of what “differences” we may perceive, and not just toward those “like” us.
    And I am aware the irony, but I just want to punch that guy in the face! Careless, entitled, selfish, uncaring, and tried to gaslight you to boot! ::Rage:: Beseeching karma to visit him.
    Also: sending you hugs.

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