We got that dreaded call the other night – “we were in an accident” – a scared, trembling voice came through the line and then the call dropped.
UGH – my stomach dropped to the floor.
The trembling, crackling, hushed 15-year-old voice on the other end of the line brought to life one of my worst and most silent mommy fears…
My son was the passenger with a friend who was driving home after an evening dance class.
It’s autumn in Northeast, PA.
The country road was damp and covered with leaves.
One deer in the road, a tight and blind curve, and not enough time to stop for the car in front… and bam! The first car accident for both the driver and my son.
When my husband and I arrived on the scene, there was some confusion, lots of tension with the other driver and her passenger, and considerable ruminating by his friend – the driver… still in shock and disbelief that it had happened… so fast.
After talking with him a bit and simply standing by as the situation was resolved by the police and others involved, I was aware at how prevalent self-talk is – and how difficult it is to control especially in the cases of high stress.
Lots of – ‘if only…’, and ‘had I stopped at the light, or taken the other route’, and ‘I wasn’t sure if they were stopped’, and ‘the brakes didn’t really work’… Rehashing everything that went wrong in the situation…
With a few warm hugs – and a few reminders to simply breathe… was what it took to get a little closer to feeling better. It was a chilly night and we had thrown some jackets in the car just in case.
When we had some time alone, while waiting for the police to arrive – I reminded both of them that they could put a pause on anything, even a serious situation like an accident, by simply pressing the pause button on their run-away emotions.
[Tweet “Pausing runaway emotions allows you to breathe and regain control during traumatic events.”]
I LOVE the pause button and used the metaphor with them that night to help both of them simply breathe, be in the moment, and try to let go of the ruminating self-talk (and more like self-abuse) manifesting verbally.
There is always stress that resonates after the accident… it’s like a ripple effect of the energy that simply stops suddenly but doesn’t have anywhere to go.
It reminds me of the ability we all have to put a ‘pause’ on anything that is feeling out of control.
Fast forward a few days… The boys are fine (still a bit rattled – yet I maintain… reality is the best teacher…)
The car is being fixed – and as the situation resolves, the ruminating has certainly quieted down.
I’ve asked the driver to work on forgiving himself.
In reflection, I asked my son to name some things that he learned that night from the situation – Along with the obvious ones: “I’m so glad I had my cell phone charged, and I see why you’re always nagging me about it…”, and “All I wanted was for you and dad to come here so I could hug you…” He also mentioned these important lessons:
- Accidents happen
- The most important part is that he and his friend (and the others involved) are uninjured
- Vehicles are fixable – and sometimes expensive.
- Messes can get cleaned up.
- Breakdowns bring to light what may be missing (in this case, potentially it may have to do with technical things like brake fluid, but likely it was simply not anticipating the possibility of a deer, and perhaps going too fast for the conditions).
- Slow down when visibility is low and conditions are unpredictable.
- Accidents usually cause the unexpected to happen – which is often trailed by many inconveniences.
- Keep your cell phone charged (this is a special one we’ve been working on!)
- There are consequences to every single thing we do.
- It’s important to be in the moment and always have a contingency plan.
It’s also been a gentle reminder for me to be grateful for each moment, and that we all have the need to heal from our mistakes… Healing starts with forgiving yourself first… and then accepting that each of us, even you mompreneur, is human and allowed to make mistakes.