So what now?

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There is so much I want to write about but right now my brain has been high-jacked by the latest craziness in my life.  My car isn’t going to be fixed.  I will never drive her again.  I am grieving more than the physical loss of her, but what driving has meant for me in general.

Yes, I am getting a good pay out, but the question is do we just take a break for a while from being a two car family and save some money, pay off some debts?  Or do I go out and get another car right away?

I’m undecided.

Driving is everything for me.  It is a key to a level of freedom that otherwise is not attainable.  Yes, I have access to buses.  Yes, I live within walking distance of all major grocery stores and banks.  Yes, my parents’ live a 20/30 minute walk from my house, and my mom is willing to loan me her car if I need it occasionally.  Right now I’m not working so many weeks go by that the car doesn’t move much.  But having my own car allows me to set my own schedule, to go places that busing is inconvenient, like Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo.  It allows me to go up to the airport and sit and watch planes with my youngest son.  It means I can go for a big grocery run all by myself or with just my youngest son and not be constrained by the size of the wagon or stroller as far as how much I can buy and carry.  It means being able to leave at a moment’s notice if someone calls me, or needs me, like my kids at school.  The small housecleaning job I have on the side is made easier by having a car.  I can even meet my husband for lunch once and awhile.

That level of freedom comes with a price.  Not having a car could save us around $400/mth.  That could go a long way to paying bills and catching up our debt load.  Maybe giving up that freedom for six months or so is worth it to regain our financial stability again, and with some luck maybe even move to a more accommodating home.  I will stay on as a secondary driver on the van so I will not lose all my status as a driver, and I will be able to have access to the van in the evening and weekends, but it will leave my husband without a vehicle when I do take it.

Driving, or the ability to get away and do things without having to rely on others for help, is a huge anti-depressant for me.  Even if I don’t use the car to go anywhere, I know it’s there, the option is there.  Plus I just renewed our membership to Ray’s Reptiles and just picked up the membership to three of the big Museums here in Ottawa.  I had my youngest out to the Aviation Museum a week or so ago and he loved it.  He keeps asking to go back.  Without a car, it’s a much bigger endeavour.  Busing to the Aviation Museum is a little more complicated, and often my son is exhausted by the time we leave and is asleep in the car within minutes.  A car makes everything easier.

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So what now? I have a difficult decision to make.  To give up my freedom to make my own decisions, and go where I want to go when I want to go and not have to depend on others for getting me places?  It might free up some financial resources for us to be able to move and at that point perhaps it’ll be easier to afford another car for me.  I may also be further along in my studies and be on the point of being able to earn some money from my education, perhaps even ready to start my business.  I will need a car for my business.  So if I can look at this as a temporary suspension of my driving freedoms, perhaps I can make my way through this time and out the other side where a car will be waiting for me.

Or do I get another car right away?  A part of me feels that’s a selfish choice to make.  It’s what I need, not what this family needs right now.  And I’m a mom, so making a selfish decision is against every principle of my being!  But I have to honour my selfish need to drive, my selfish need to not be at the whim and mercy of other people’s schedules and let myself sit with it so I can release it to make room for acceptance of what is best right now, and in my heart I know what’s best.

I will have a car again, I just have to be patient. Patience isn’t always my strong point, but this will be another chance to work on it!

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My Good Samaritans

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Life has a way of testing you.  Just as you are starting to crawl out of the mud and mire, just as you are getting back on your feet and saying “screw you world, you’re not going to hold me down any longer!”, the world says “okay, let’s see how you handle this then.”

Rolling my car!

Rolling my car!

Driving out to a friend’s place on Saturday, I was looking forward to a kid-free, adult-only afternoon that involved good food!  It was dusk, and there was a storm coming, though I didn’t realize at the time how messy it would become later that evening.  It still felt pretty good on the road.  I just wanted to get out of the house.  I tend to avoid some social situations because of my anxieties, and in the past this might have been one as I really didn’t know anyone except the host.

Then it happened.  I let my eyes drift for half a second to check the time or my rear-view mirror.  I don’t even know now what it was as the shock of the car slipping sideways suddenly brought my attention immediately back to the road.  I hit an icy patch, my wheels went sliding left into on-coming traffic and I immediately re-acted, trying to correct and get the car under control, but the tires just didn’t seem to want to grip the road.  The snow was slippery.  I know I didn’t hit my brakes because I re-actively knew enough that I didn’t want to lock my wheels up.  I probably did let up on my gas, though my husband said giving it some gas might have helped regain the control.  I will never know now.  I was more focused on my steering wheel and trying to get the car to straighten out and start moving in the right direction again.  It just didn’t want to.  It had other plans for me.

When I realized the car was not going to come out of the slide and my tires just were not gripping the road, I had a choice, on-coming traffic or the ditch.  I chose the ditch.  If I had just gone into the ditch and stayed upright on my wheels, the damage would’ve been minor, but unfortunately the way I hit the snow, it pushed the car into a roll and my car came to a stop upside down.

Hanging upside down in your car is one of the weirdest, most disorienting, feelings in the world.  The contents of the car just go everywhere.  My Timmies tea went flying, I remember feeling the warmth of the liquid soaking my thigh.  Thankfully it had cooled down a little at that point.  All the garbage and kids toys were tossed everywhere, and I was there held in by my seat belt, suspended upside down.  My first thought was to get the car turned off.  Which I did, but I couldn’t pull the key out of the ignition.  In my disorientation and shock, I forgot to take the car out of drive.  It was the tow truck driver who pointed it out to me!

Having turned off the car, and taken a deep breath, I realized I had to get out of the car.  So I reached over and managed to release my seat belt, letting myself fall to my knees on what had now become the floor of the car!  I tried to open the driver-side door but it would not budge so I crawled over to the passenger-side door and was thankfully able to escape the car that way.

Even before I opened the door, I heard the voices.  “Are you okay?”  “Can you get out?” All kinds of people stopped immediately and were there to offer me a hand as I crawled out of the car and a comforting voice asking if I was okay.  One man called 911 and was talking to them for me.  I kept saying I was okay, I felt okay.  I was lucid, shaken but not crying.  It was their hands reaching out to me, their voices holding me, they were the good Samaritans that for a few moments on a Saturday afternoon on their way to wherever they were going, stopped to help me, stopped to make sure I was okay.

One couple put me in their car, covered me with a blanket and let me stay there until the police arrived.  I had meant to ask their names, get their contact information so I could properly thank them, but after the police officer arrived and I was transferred to her care, I was unable to get that information.  I was only able to wave and yell a thank you as they moved on with their plans that Saturday afternoon.

The police officer was amazing.  We waited together, chatting comfortably.  We after all shared the same first name, spelling and all!  From the initial incident to the arrival of the tow truck, it was probably about 90 minutes, two hours maybe – time lost some of its sense, but the entire time I was watched over by one or another person, transferred from one set of caring hands to another.  The last in the line was the tow truck driver, who carefully righted my car and lifted it to the flatbed.

This was the first time I saw the full extent of the damage.  It’s bad enough, but I’m hoping fixable.  Cracked windshield, plastic bumper gone, license plate messed up, front driver side of car dented and damaged, and the roof compressed, shaped around the roll bar.

My car is hurting, but thankfully, I am not.

The tow truck driver drove my car and I to the collision center where my husband met up with us.  Reunited for the first time after my anxious phone call letting him know what had just happened.

At least it wasn’t like the first time I was in an accident.  My voice when I called him that day was one he never wants to hear again.  This accident, despite the craziness, I never felt out of control and I was never alone.  It has made a huge difference in my ability to cope with the fall out.  My last accident sent my depression spiraling out of control, and I ended up back on sick leave at the end of my parental leave.  I was also charged, so there were charges to fight.  I was at the whim of other people’s bad decisions the first time.  This time it was a fluke of nature, ice on the road.  If I had panicked I might have hit another car, injuring another person, but I made the decision I had control over, and I chose to put the car in the ditch instead of hitting another car.

The bottom line, no one was hurt.

The car will or will not be fixed, though I’m hoping it will be.  It can be replaced.  We’ll do whatever we have to do and while my insurance rates may go up because of this, the flip side of not having the insurance during these incidents is a worse scenario.  It’s worth it.

Having said all this, I could decide that this is life sending me a message that I’m screwed and I’ll never get anywhere, that no matter how hard I try, I will always be pushed back down.  I’m not going to do that.  It’s a dark road that leads nowhere.  It’s in fact shown me what I have to be grateful for, including the hands of strangers, good Samaritans, who stopped everything they were doing, regardless of the urgency of their own plans, to help me.  I can’t thank them personally, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, I’m going to focus my energy on sending out positive, thankful energy to all the people who were there to help me when I needed them.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

See follow up story.