Crashing Into GraceBy Sylvia Poareo
August 16, 2011
A story of how a car accident brought me home to greater healing, understanding and connection with myself.
A second later, I turned around and to my surprise my children looked at me dumbfounded, “What was that??” My heart melted in relief to see them safe and intact. Ahhhhhh, such grace. Then my mind swung back around to the reality of being in the middle of the street. Shaken with nerves and residual terror, I scooped my babes out of their seats and took them to the sidewalk. Amazingly, neighbors came out from their homes with a routine. (Apparently this happens often there due to poor visibility) Did we want a towel to sit on? Would we like some water? One neighbor was a social worker and sat with my stunned little ones while I gathered my purse from the car left in the middle of the road. Another went and brought out Otter Pops for Lucas and Maya. (This is still one of their most vivid recollections as they didn’t realize there was life beyond homemade fresh fruit juice popsicles!)
My neck hurt horribly as I became acquainted with the reality of whiplash. Before this I always wondered if people were exaggerating when they stood stiffly with neck braces in the courtroom dramas. Now, I knew that this is in fact what happens when our bodies are jolted so unnaturally. I sat there disoriented, releasing tears that flowed because they had to. To release the terror and to express the gratitude and relief at finding ourselves sitting on the edge of the sidewalk with friendly neighbors and their dogs, unharmed.
Well, not seriously that is. I was definitely in pain and knew that something dramatic had happened in my neck and shoulders, especially because I already had a sensitive middle back. But when the ambulance and fire truck came, I was clear that we would not be going with them. My children were mellow (in mild shock) and content eating their Otter Pops. I was not going to usher them into all the drama of mom on a guerney, whirling sirens, blinking lights and endless hours in the ER. It was a bit confusing and scary to go through all the explanations and paperwork to release liability. More tears as I felt afraid that I was doing the wrong thing. Nerves overwhelmed me, but I knew intuitively that we would be fine.
All of my own feelings moving through me, policemen, firemen, ambulance staff all asking me questions, and then the call to be present as a mother. I held Lucas and Maya, spoke about how scary it was and how happy I was that we were all safe. I thought about the power of our thoughts because I could see clearly that since they had not seen the crash happening, they had less drama about it. To them it was more of a BIG BUMP. They didn’t have the “what if something happens to my babies???” thought that had so rattled me. (They also had really excellent car seats I must say.)
Being empathic little souls, they had concern mostly about how I was doing,. I tried to be authentic, letting them know it was scary for me and my tears were a natural part of that, but that of course, I would take care of us and everything was going to be fine. I wanted them to know a real experience and yet also know that mama was present and in charge. They accepted this and went back to Otter Pop bliss as the woman came out and offered them another one. Two otter pops! Unheard of in their granola world. Their eyes lit up in delight. I couldn’t help but laugh at their very genuine embracing of this moment!
After things settled down, I called my friend Lauren who is a doctor. She came right over and very lovingly helped us all into her car. Just then the tow truck arrived and began getting our car ready. Lucas, remembering another time when we donated our old car, said “Oh no, mommy are they taking our car??” with real devastation. Since birth he has a hard time letting go of any material object. We acknowledged this huge loss in a child’s life, where car is second home and deliverer of so many adventures.
Then we headed to our chiropractor’s office. I felt so grateful for our strong community of friends. The fact that instead of ER drama, auntie Lauren could pick us up and take us to our wonderful chiropractor that my children already felt safe with. They took care of us right then and I felt so content that I listened to my intuition and avoided the drama.
Overall, I felt this was such a charmed accident. In the glow of gratitude that coming so close to heartbreak offers, I felt profound peace. We had angels all around us; some we could see offering help and otter pops, others just a call away and many, many more surrounding us with grace and light.
Still, there was much grief and anger to release. Because I read, “Heal Back Pain” by John Sarno, long ago, I knew that it was crucial to allow the turmoil of feelings to emerge. Beginning the moment I had time to myself on the chiropractic table, to the days that followed, I took every opportunity to honor the grief and let out the feelings of helplessness, terror, and shock that had overwhelmed me.
I realized how important it is to acknowledge this grief even though by all accounts the accident was undramatic. I found myself hearing everyone say, “Oh good, no one got hurt. I’m so glad you are all okay” and understanding of course that this is in fact true. Yet I did not allow this to invalidate the emotional trauma. In fact I felt grateful for the clarity I now had about how to help clients process out this grief, in the same way that I often validate and create space for mothers who have had miscarriages to grieve a loss the world rarely recognizes. I also knew that as I validated my feelings and listened to my soul express, my neck pain noticeably lightened.
But the most important learning for me, was the realization that the moment of terror and helplessness, and the ensuing numbness and overwhelm were all feelings I was familiar with from my life in foster care. Before this, I could never precisely express what I felt when it was time to move onto yet another home, utterly out of control of the direction of my life. That was it! The helplessness I felt in that moment as my car collided with this stranger’s, the deep knowing that even if I wanted to I could not stop this train, the absolute defeat… This was my soul’s experience over and over again. And yet because I could not name it, I didn’t acknowledge it. I had literally questioned the week before whether my experience as a child was all that hard (a process which made my insides sick, but my my mind indulged nonetheless). My eyes were now opened to a way to actually express what I felt and to help others recognize the hard to name experience of chronic disappointment, helplessness and shattered trust.
Our accident was so charmed that I almost believe this was God’s way of nudging me back to myself, showing me the need for deep compassion and acknowledgement of my soul’s journey. At least, this is what I am taking from it so far. I choose to be a learner not a victim, and this willingness to explore and come through to the light on the other side, is what has buoyed me through many struggles.
I am so grateful to have crashed into Grace; seeing my blessings with renewed gratitude and connecting ever deeper to my soul.
And I am profoundly grateful to have the powerful process of Inner Bonding that always brings me back to learning, back to love, and into my own power to heal myself and move with grace and compassion through whatever life brings.
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Today, slow down. Breathe. Walk more slowly. Be mindful - present to yourself, to others, to your environment, to Spirit. Each moment you are truly present is a moment of enlightenment.
By Dr. Margaret Paul