A Car Accident Waiting to Happen

Impatience totaled my car, patience brought the broken pieces together

Scene of accident

The past week has been an eventful one. My sister and her husband visited me from out of town which was so much fun, I got sick with a nasty cold (like, who gets a cold in the summer?), and my car has been having problems so bad I may need to get a new one – still waiting to hear from the auto shop. The bottom line is, the universe has been testing me and my ability to handle a lot all at once.

Mental illness or not, patience can be difficult

Talk to me 3 or 4 years ago, and this kind of week would have sent me into a tailspin. I have grown so much more patient with myself and in stressful situations since being diagnosed with bipolar. It’s almost as if my diagnosis was a hard left hook to the ribs forcing me to stop ignoring and fight with all I have to face my tougher and more persistent emotions. If you have been recently diagnosed with a mental illness, patience may seem like a far cry from your reality. Even if you don’t have a mental illness, patience is something that demands to be cultivated every single day no matter who you are or what your story is.

I got a story to tell

It was the summer of 2016 and I was working at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. It was a Thursday, so I worked the late shift and got done around 8pm. I was absolutely itching to get back home. Not only did I have to clean up the house for a friend who was flying in from out of town the next day but I also just wanted to be in my bed ASAP. As soon as 8pm hit, I booked it out of there. I hopped into my Nissan Altima and floored it out of the parking lot. It was getting darker outside, but it was a clear, blue day. My typical commute home from the hospital was about 20 minutes give or take. As soon as I got on the highway, I was flying. I remember looking at the speedometer which read a hearty 95 mph. I was cruising and blasting music like I always did, getting a rush from speeding.

Going 95mph is fun…for a second

I was in the left lane of traffic when I came upon a car that was going the speed limit (55mph) and wouldn’t move over for me. In a fit of impatient anger, I zoomed around the “slow poke” car at top speed. Because the highway was super curvy and we were rounding a bend, I lost control of the car and started spinning out. I spun and I spun, three times around, until I finally crashed into the Jersey wall hard at a speed of about 60 mph. The airbag popped in my face and I distinctly remember I smelled something burning. My car was obliterated by the concrete wall and I could hardly open my door. I screamed and cried and realized quickly that I was situated in the left lane of traffic hidden around a bend, making it difficult for oncoming traffic to see me from a distance and move over. Plus there was no real shoulder on the left side of the road. I knew I needed to cross the road to be safe but how could I cross a 3 lane highway from a place that I could hardly see oncoming traffic? I was so scared someone was going to hit me and my car, so I pushed myself out of the broken, jammed door and waved my arms frantically to get help. A middle aged woman pulled over, picked me up and waited for 30 minutes with me on the right shoulder of the highway until the police and my boyfriend arrived. She had the patience when I did not. I am eternally grateful for this guardian angel.

Need for speed
Car selfie taken 1 week before accident – distracted driving was my shit in ’16

I had an insatiable need for speed at the time, which was only strengthened by the fact that I loved saving time and cutting corners in any way I could (literally). It was always about getting to the next thing as quickly as possible. I had no patience when it came to driving. I had very little patience for myself. Looking back on it, I wish I could have done something differently, wish I had slowed down or not gotten so mad at the slower driver. But in a way, I’m so glad it happened. It was the universe giving me a blaring sign to slow down and be more patient. I didn’t listen right then and there, but it was the first of many instances where my patience was tested and I failed miserably. It took time for me to recognize my inability to handle stress and my growing need to cultivate patience.

Triggered

Patience is hard, especially when something happens that triggers an emotional response in us. I still struggle with car problems to this day and when the issues arose this past week with my current car, I felt that impatience and fear rising in me. I accepted it but pushed it to the side to make way for my newfound patience and I’m honestly proud of myself for rising to the occasion. I am finally recognizing ways in which I can practice this patience – daily commute, listening before speaking, grocery store lines, etc. I frequently reflect on my guardian angel and admire how patient she was with me, even though she had a family she wanted to get home to that night. She keeps me motivated when I’m feeling impatient.

Learn from my mistake

Growing up, I’d hear many adults say, “Patience is a virtue”, but I never truly understood the importance of this phrase until recently. I had to learn the hard way, but my hope is that if you’re reading this maybe you can avoid a potential car accident, injury, conflict, etc. by learning from my mistake. Or maybe you can use your patience to help out a stranger who needs help in a car accident…

Will you pass or fail the patience test?

My best advice to anyone who could use some patience is this: look at each frustrating experience you have as a patience test from the universe. You can either choose to pass or choose to fail, there’s no in between – but the choice is yours. I urge you to choose to pass. Passing the test means choosing patience because you care about yourself. Do better than I did back in summer ’16. It will not only be better for everyone around you, but it will magnify your inner peace.

One Reply to “A Car Accident Waiting to Happen”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Diana. I struggle with it too. Someone once gave the advice that every time you come to a red light, start thinking of all the things you are grateful for. When you’re thinking of things you are grateful for, it’s hard to be mad or sad, and you’ll find yourself starting to relax and be more happy or peaceful. Also…when driving I check to see if I’m holding tension in my body and inevitably I am, so I take a few deep breaths and let go of as much tension as I can.

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