I didn’t see it coming. That’s how we usually feel about the things that turn our life upside down. Now it’s how I feel a lot. Literally.
I didn’t see anything but headlights that’s were too close to miss. The driver had a stop sign and I didn’t, but they crossed the intersection anyways. I slammed on my breaks knowing it wouldn’t be enough. I knew I was going to hit. Those milliseconds before impact went slow. I thought about everything I could do to avoid the hit. I got scared. I braced myself. The moment of impact was fast.
I heard and felt the crash all at once and then my problem solving brain kicked in. “Put the car in park”. “Breathe in for 4 counts and out for four counts”, “Look in the mirror and find out why your face hurts”. The airbag had deployed and I told myself my nose was probably broken. When I looked in my rear view mirror I saw a mangled bloody mess where my right eye should have been. I knew I couldn’t keep looking at it if I was going to keep my cool. I kept breathing and tried to find my phone. I heard a man ask me if I was okay and I said I thought so. He asked me if I had a clean towel in my car and I said no. He said he was calling 911. I knew it was bad, but I had to call my boyfriend. My phone had been sitting in my center console. The crash had made it go flying. I tried to make the call from my Apple Watch but it was shattered. I remembered my cars Bluetooth and luckily that still worked.
Justin answered and I told him I had been in an accident. I told him where I was. And he heard a voice in the background say the ambulance was on its way. I told him I was okay but going to the hospital. Then the paramedics arrived and I hung up. By then my face had swollen so much I couldn’t open either eye. My head was throbbing and I just kept telling myself to keep it together. I couldn’t see the paramedics asking me to get out of the car. I couldn’t see the stretcher I was sitting on. I could hear the voices. I focused intently on each question they asked me. I made sure to answer each question as clearly as I could. I kept myself calm by focusing on my breathing. It was maybe 2 minutes to the hospital where I had to try to understand everything that was happening with sound alone. It’s a strange thing to be completely coherent but not able to see anything. I had to trust unfamiliar voices to take care of me. I had to determine the severity of my injuries from the inflection in their voices. It was strange. I decided to surrender control. I had to. I felt desperate for a familiar voice but I knew Justin was still at least 20 minutes away.
I felt the cold of heavy duty scissors run up my legs. Have you ever had your clothes cut off your body? It’s a weird experience. 4 voices spoke to me as they cut different pieces off of my body. My black pants, my green tunic, my fancy bra, my cotton underwear. My mind darted around from, “I love this top” to “at least I got a lot of use out of these pants” to “nooo this is a $70 bra” to “oh god when was the last time I shaved?” Complete strangers were examining my naked body for injury and all I could think about was my outfit being ruined. It was a small win for me. It never occurred to me to feel ashamed of my body. For my entire adult life I had felt shame for my body but in this moment, it wasnt on my radar. All that self love was paying off. This was not the way I expected to feel satisfied with all the body acceptance work I’d been doing. I never saw it coming.