Accidents, Anxiety & Addictions

A few weeks ago I was in a car accident. I had just had dinner with friends, where I had enjoyed a couple (or more) glasses of wine, when I sideswiped by another car. It was the other driver’s fault; his car drifted into my lane because he had been looking at his date in the passenger seat. When the cops arrived, I wondered: ‘Had he been drinking too?’ ‘Can they smell the Listerine strip I just put on my tongue?’

It was hard to put into words the fear that followed me around for days after that incident. I had been in control of my car…therefore I was in control of my life, right? Wrong. The worry and anxiety that had been living just under the surface for the past several months came surging out. And I felt as though my life was spiraling out of control.

For those of us familiar with that which consumes us (whether it’s anxiety, addiction, or both), we understand that it’s makes perfect sense to fall into its loving arms when we feel scared. So naturally, I put myself in harm’s way again. A mere ten days after the accident. The next morning, I experienced something that few can describe unless it’s actually happened to them. A spiritual intervention of sorts. It led me to meditate, mourn, and read passages that were written for me:

“Nothing is more debilitating than the dread associated with immoderation in any area of our lives. The state of active addiction is accompanied by an overwhelming sense of impending doom. Even in less extreme situations, that fear is profoundly destructive to our belief in ourselves.”
-Rolf Gates, Meditations fom the Mat

* * *

“[T]he terrible thing about being so hidden is if people tell you they love you…it kinda doesn’t sink in. You always think, if you’re hiding things, ‘How could you know who I am?’ Saying who I am has permitted me to actually connect with people for the first time in my life. It’s ended lifelong exile.” –Mary Karr

I finally understood that I was preventing myself from feeling free. It may sound strange to someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety but learning to trust my thoughts has always been a lifelong struggle. It has always been easier to make impulse decisions, and to rip off the Band-aid before I felt the pain. I’d like to think that my mind and spirit (and daily meditation practice) have been laying the groundwork, and deliberately preparing me, for this recent revelation: the knowledge that our accidents, anxiety, and addictions can—and do—propel us forward into the light.

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