The good news is that in a week’s time, I was able to put a “closure” to my accident last week. All legal papers, including the affidavit of desistance or “quit claims”, have been finalized, and we have settled amicably with all parties involved. I took time to meet with the people affected by this accident, because I wanted closure, even forgiveness. By God’s good grace, everyone who was injured has been released from the hospital, slowly recovering. All vehicles that were damaged have been repaired. All financial obligations completed.
Everything’s on the mend and on the road to recovery, but I can’t say the same for my heart. My “recovery”, so to speak, has been very slow, very subtle, at least for me. Sometimes, I don’t think I’m okay despite being able to talk about the accident at length, and ironically, being able to “joke” about it now. Stupid things, like how the joke’s on me for advocating road safety and getting into an accident myself. A friend texted that she saw me on the evening news and when I asked her what I looked like, she half-managed to convince me that I was still “poised”. A driver I know in town said the complete opposite, and I believed him more. I was anything but poised when it happened. I was inconsolable, hysterical, and in complete shock that when the cameras appeared out of nowhere, I didn’t have time to compose myself or think about how I looked. I can joke about it now, tell the story the way I remember it. But my heart is still not okay on many levels.
I haven’t been out much since the accident, except for my meetings with the attorney and for the 5 days I spent in Makati because I had a wedding to attend and a business trip to complete. Apart from that, I’ve been a homebody. Even the people downstairs notice that I’ve just been holed up at home. When I need to run errands, I ask Ren to do it. When I’m almost out of food, I rummage through my pantry and put grocery shopping for later. If there’s something I need to do in town, I let Ren do it for me. I don’t eat out except at Casa de Dulces which is 5 minutes from home, and almost always empty. I just stay at home all the time, spend the hours answering emails for work, or at night, watching movies in my laptop. I prefer solitude these days.
I don’t know if the staying away from the crowd is some sort of traumatic response or if it’s anything out of the ordinary because I am pretty solitary by default. It could just be something in passing, a fear that I need to let go of. The fear of judgement, the fear of scrutiny by people who do not know you. But that plays on my mind all the time. Have people forgotten? Do they still remember? I must resolve my heart and my mind to accept that it does not matter if they do. I am trying. I know this is yesterday’s news and most people may not even remember me anymore, but the thought of any slight recognition gets to me. “Wasn’t that you on TV? Weren’t you the girl who got into an accident?” I dislike being talked about and asked at length about what happened, because then you would have to explain yourself again, give a history on the accident and, relieve that painful experience. More, you would have to “defend” yourself again —to them, to yourself. I find that explaining yourself and justifying only make it harder for you to put closure to things. You unearth more questions, more ‘scenarios’ of what ifs and could have beens, offer more explanations, and then you start blaming yourself again and counting all the costs, the losses. It stresses me when I think about how much was spent on this one accident, and it can’t be helped that you eventually pin the blame on yourself.
I guess that’s why I keep to myself these days. I avoid any such scenario where I have to retell the story. Ironic, right? I’m here writing, but I would term this as processing my state of recovery. On most days, I feel fine. I function very normal, get things done. On other days, like today, I feel heavy. I think it’s because I finally got all the papers and reading them bring me back to that experience, that place that will never be shared by anyone. I was at the police station today to get my license back, and the investigator took a good look at me and said, “ikaw ba talaga yung nakabangga? Wala sa itsura mo.” Apparently, reckless drivers have a certain profile, a prototype, and I did not fit the bill. I had to tell him that it was an accident and nobody ever wants to lose brakes, so, unknowingly, I go on this process of defending myself again, explaining, justifying, which is the exact reason I tell myself closures do not happen if you keep telling the story over and over again. Even when I laughed at his jokes of how different I looked on TV (he said that I looked prettier there than in person), inside, I was just….done. I’m done being charming or being the helpless victim having to explain herself over and over again. I want closure, but I can’t get myself to that state without feeling sorry and regretful and guilty all at the same time.
I’m still on the mend. It will take time and a lot of accepting and letting go –of people’s opinion, of my self-scrutiny and self-flagellation. The proper response, I recognize, is to learn to forgive yourself, to free yourself of worries and thoughts that do not help in moving forward. Most importantly, to just to be grateful for everything else: God’s abiding presence, his constant help, friends and family checking up on you, sincerity, consideration, encouragement, prayers.