Thursday, 21 February 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Two weeks ago, my children and I extremely fortunate to walk away from a pretty serious car crash.
 I was stationary, waiting to turn right off a busy A-road, en-route to taking the children on the customary school run- a journey I had taken countless times without incident.
 February 5th decided to be different, however, in that, as I stood there waiting, a car hurtled up behind and ploughed into the back of us. I saw it coming, but only split seconds before impact. It seemed, however, to take forever before it hit us. In reality, there was no time to react, no time to think, just the abject terror of knowing something really bad was about to happen. I had no plausible thoughts, no ‘life flashing before my eyes’ all I felt was raw, instinctive fear, directly wholly at the fact that my two children were behind me, where the car was about to hit, and I was utterly powerless to protect them.  The children said I screamed, but I have no recall of that. I remember the resounding crunch and splintering of metal as the two vehicles met, and my next memory is looking behind and the overwhelming relief of seeing my two dear children unhurt. But the relief was only momentary as the sheer fear I saw reflected in their innocent eyes propelled me out of my car, and over to the other driver, miraculously unhurt but shaken nonetheless, in a fit of blind fury that I had never felt before. I was a lioness, a rabid she-devil willing to viciously kill or maim the predator who threatened the safety of her young. I am grateful that all my angst was only verbal, but inside I was willing to tear the head off my ‘attacker’. It was terrifying, enthralling, enraged, adrenalin-fuelled meld of emotions. And it was only when the dust, literally settled, that I was able to take stock and realise how fortunate we had been. Yes, both, cars were written off, but my children, myself, and the driver were all in one piece. Quite miraculous, really.
And, so began my list of many reasons to be grateful.
The next few hours were a bit of a blur of Police statements, hospital visits, phone calls to insurance companies, recovery services and the school. It was a pretty stressful time, but through it all shone the powerful remedy of Human Kindness. That day, and over the few to follow, so many people showed such thoughtfulness and compassion, extending offers of help both practical and emotional. From the School Mum who rapidly whisked my children from the terrible roadside scene and took them into the caring arms of the school headmaster and secretary;  to the unfortunate house-owner, outside whose home  the incident occurred, who offered a warm living room, cups of tea and a safe place  to manoeuvre the battered cars; The emergency services staff who brought calm and sense to a chaotic and frantic situation, especially the Police Constable who personally called me a few days later to see how I was bearing up; Hospital staff and doctors, even the employees of the ‘parasitic’ insurance companies whose efficiency and sympathetic telephone manners made a difficult task a little less onerous.  The concerned friends and colleagues who called, emailed and texted when the news reached them, all these and more had me counting my blessings in so many ways.
Most of all I am grateful for my husband, who came rushing to the scene when I called him, his peace equally as shattered as if he had been in the car with us. I am so grateful to have a shoulder to sob on, a chest to bury my face in when the flashbacks refused to leave, a loving, patient soul who stood by as I raged with the unfairness of it all, and, occasionally took the emotional blows with good grace and compassion when I had nowhere else to direct them. My rock and soulmate, who cared for our bewildered children in a way I simply did not have the resources to do so, who helped them in coming to terms with the scenario, and who supported me in picking myself back up again. I really am very, very lucky indeed.
Well things have settled down now, the car is due to be replaced, the bumps and bruises have faded, and I’m back driving in the car again, albeit a little nervously. I attempted to go back to work but found that the office chairs caused a great lot of discomfort to the whiplash injuries in my neck and shoulders, so my employer advised that I be signed off work medically for two weeks until the muscle pain eased off.
And so, here I am now, languishing in the bosom of my family, a little sore but otherwise content.
And it is here that I have found another thing to be grateful for. I am actually, now, grateful that the car accident actually did occur at all. Really?? Glad to have had a terrifying moment, a terrible inconvenience and residual pain? Let me explain.
Little did I know, that just days before the crash, |I was already on a collision course, heading at 100mph towards an emotional brick wall that I would never have seen coming.
The last few months have not been easy ones, not by anyone’s standards particularly traumatic, but, for reasons I can’t even fathom myself, I was not handling them very well. When the crash occurred it seemed like the final straw in a category of incidents beset upon breaking me down to my most vulnerable and pathetic. In December, my mother had a stroke, and for a while came to live with us. Other family issues and dynamics meant that I felt the need to take the burden of care, a role that I did not in any way resent, and that I executed through a strong love for my Mum. However, it was an exhausting and emotionally draining time. She, amazingly, has made an incredible and astounding recovery and that, too, is another reason to be grateful. However, as soon as she was well enough to care for herself, I returned to work, in a job that |I neither understand nor hold any passion for. To add insult to injury, I failed to secure a job I had applied for –twice. A job that both I, my colleagues, my boss and even my husband all firmly believed I was ideal for. Sadly, the faceless individuals who assessed my application did not hold the same belief. It was quite a blow, as I must admit |I had set my heart upon the job, hoping, possibly too much, that it would rescue me from the drudgery and boredom my present post offered.
The final nail in the coffin for me at that time came a few weeks later when I was made to attend a training course on a subject that I had no prior knowledge of, where I was sat every day for a week becoming more bewildered at facts that made sense to everyone but me. Information that I was expected to process, learn and then apply to an examination, upon which, I was told,  my future career depended. Every day I left the classroom, choking back tears, feeling lost and confused and unable to make sense of the senseless.
I was utterly miserable.
Now I know, very much so, that my tribulations are small-fry to those who have experienced real hardship and grief. And, in fact, |I used that very stick to beat myself with- unable to justify the misery whirling around my head, knowing that I had so much to be thankful for, yet, somehow, genuinely unable to see life in any other shade than dull grey. These really were dark days indeed.
|I tried to struggle on, and battle through the fog but, I failed abjectly. Unbeknownst to myself, I was distancing myself from my loved ones, so focused on my own misery that I was unable to see the damage it was doing to those who cared about me. Sadly those looking on were all too aware of the havoc I was wreaking, and, just as I was powerless to prevent the car behind from smashing into me, they couldn’t stop me hurtling into what would be an inevitable collision. An almighty smash that would wipe out my relationships, my self-respect, my career.
And then something fantastic happened – I got involved in a car crash!!
So back to the insanity of that statement.
Sometimes a series of events happen, that, at the time, seem nothing but negative and detrimental. However, after a while the mists clear away and the sunshine peeps through and you realise that a potentially nasty incident is actually the catalyst that starts the good times rolling.
This last week I have been signed off work because of the aforementioned whiplash pain being exacerbated by office furniture. It  is a genuine problem but also a happy coincidence that  my time off work falls at the same time, not only that my children are on Half Term holiday but also my husband has been rostered  off-shift most of this week. Due to my aches and pains, I have not exactly been able to go  off-roading with the kids, but I have been afforded the opportunity to really connect again with those that really mattered to me. Happenstance has provided me with the time to slow down, smell the flowers, take a moment to appreciate what is truly important. And not to get caught up in the stuff that can  destroy relationships –stress from outside that pervades and poisons our souls.
So had, I not had the accident and been subsequently signed off, I would not be in the position to stop, think, slow down and manoeuvre safely back on life’s highway.
I truly believe, that, had I not had the crash, and been forced away from the issues that were distracting me, I would have continued careening down that self-destructive path, taking innocent bystanders with me, and destroying all of our lives.
Just like the driver who hit me I had taken my “eyes off the road” and was on a collision course to disaster.
But, life, fate, God, call it whatever you wish chose to give me a non-life-threatening bump. Admittedly a terrifying one, but sometimes we need a bloody great shock to shake us out of our self-induced madness.
And, so, I am grateful that the car hit me. I survived, my children survived, my life goes on. Better, and with a new understanding of how important it is to slow down, stop, take stock.
And pay attention, to what is going on around us. Great Road Sense. Fantastic Life Sense.


  1. Well that's made me stop and think! What a thought provoking piece of writing, thanks Juliet.

  2. Hello! I've nominated you for a Liebster Award - all the details here: