Journal Prompt 4/22/23 I was in a traffic accident.

How do I handle guilt and shame after a traumatic event?

Two days ago, I was in a traffic accident on my way to get daikon radishes after a massage. I realized something for the first time, traumatic events come without warning.

After the initial impact a million and one thoughts flew through my head:

  1. What just happened?
  2. Their dog just flew out the window.
  3. I need to get out of the road.
  4. She’s yelling at me, it must be my fault.
  5. I thought the light was green. The sun must have hit it in a way I couldn’t tell.
  6. Where are my glasses?
  7. I need to call Dad.
  8. I don’t know what I’m doing.
  9. Are the two women in the car okay? Are they injured?
  10. Did they find their dog?
  11. Heavenly Father help me stay calm and know what to do.
  12. It must be my fault. How could it not be?

I apologized over and over to the other car, because from the way they spoke it was my fault. Witnesses came forward to them and asked how they were. I felt like a villain in a terrible story, like a bad driver who couldn’t pay attention enough to notice the light wasn’t green.

I was in complete shock, and when I called my Dad I was in tears. I wasn’t worried as much about my wellbeing as much as I thought about all the people I had hurt because of what just happened. My nerves were shot and I couldn’t stop shaking for quite some time.

I’ve had time to sit and reflect since then and I wanted to note some important insights I’ve noticed.

  1. It was not my fault. I’m not a villain in a tragic story.
  2. Because I care so much about whether I’ve hurt others or not, I can fall into a pit of guilt and shame that is difficult to navigate out of.
  3. People did care about me. It was hard to tell because I was in a wave of shock at the time.
  4. Cars can be replaced. I cannot.
  5. It’s okay to move forward and try and be happy.

I don’t know if there is anyone else who recently went through an accident. If you have I hope you know I understand many of the feelings, thoughts and pitfalls you find yourself in.

Before I go, I wanted to list the miracles I realized after the incident is over.

  1. My car is a 1998 Toyota Camry. It’s built like a tank and protected me from the accident.
  2. Despite the accident, my car was well enough to be able to drive to a spot off the road and shut off.
  3. None of the oils or fluids were leaking, meaning they weren’t damaged in the accident.
  4. The two women, their three dogs, and myself had minimal to no physical injuries.
  5. We both have insurance.
  6. The police officer did not cite either of us for the accident but left it to the insurance companies.
  7. A man came to my car and asked how I was. He let me know it was not my fault and it would be alright.
  8. A woman in her car stopped and talked to me. She told me it was not my fault and it was a miracle we all made it through the incident so well. She also told me I was lucky to have the type of car I did because it most likely saved us both. She left saying she would pray for me.
  9. My father and mother were able to come and get me.
  10. Calling the insurance was easy and they didn’t make it complicated.
  11. The tow truck was really close by and was attached to an auto mechanics shop. The owner rick said he might have parts to repair my car. He also said how sorry he was about what happened to me and it would be okay.
  12. When I went in to the doctors office, he said the x-rays showed I had no broken ribs or misaligned bones. He also gave me medicine for the stomach problems made worse because of the accident.

Looking at this list, I’m so grateful for how things turned out. I feel like God was watching out for me and things are working out better than I could have hope.

Going through the accident, I realized anew how important it is to see miracles in my life and take time for gratitude. Because of this, I’ve slowly been able to overcome the intense guilt and shame that washed over me a few days ag.

Whoever might be reading this, if you are struggling because of a tragic event in your life I hope you can find peace and comfort.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!


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