This blog post is more personal therapy than it is educational reflection, but I hope that others dealing with similar strife can relate and find solidarity.
Two weeks ago, I was in a car accident on the way to school on a clear, dry, sunny Monday morning. I was heading north on a county highway when a car pulled out from my right to head south. My SUV slammed into him at about 50 miles per hour deploying all of my airbags and sending my car into oncoming traffic. When my car came to a stop on the opposite side of the road, I was relieved that my Sync system was dialing 911 on my behalf. Who knows where my cell phone was at that point. Fifteen minutes later, a police officer arrived. The driver of the other car was issued a citation for distracted driving and my mangled Escape was hauled away.
The pain that remained in my hand kept intensifying as the morning went on, so instead of waiting for a doctor appointment to get myself checked out, I headed for the ER. Sure enough, my left thumb was fractured. The airbag that saved my face instead broke my thumb when I gripped the wheel, bracing for impact.
I was angry. Thumbs are important. Two working thumbs are a lot more productive than one. I didn’t cause this accident, yet I’m the one left with a broken hand, smashed car, and sore neck. To add more gas to my resentment-fueled fire, the Doogie Howser-esque orthopedic surgeon informed me that my busted digit would require pins to heal properly.
This past week, I’ve thankfully moved past anger but haven’t seemed to be able to rise above the emotional grip this hand cast has had on my day-to-day functioning. I couldn’t imagine that having difficulty taking the cap off of a dry-erase marker would have such a strong emotional impact.
This week we began a new trimester, so I struggled with the decision to take a few days off of work so I could wrap my brain around this injury and release myself from the emotional handcuff surrounding my thumb. Our culture accepts physical injury, but the unseen toll on our mental well-being is what really needs the most care.
The part of the first step in Alcoholics Anonymous is accepting powerlessness over alcohol. While this is true for addictions in general, that thinking is also applicable here. I am powerless over my broken thumb, the 6-week casting period and my physical disabilities resulting. My emotional interpretation of the event, however, is completely in my control, and I’m determined to make the best of it and be a better person because of it. Life is full of lessons, and this one is teaching me humility. I am determined to be humble enough to accept it.