I knew I was going to die, as I clutched the steering wheel and screamed, “I don’t want to leave Drew! I don’t want to leave Drew!”
I could see the other driver’s face directly in front of me when we collided, and then we both spun around several times, hitting each other again and again.
(This is not a picture of my car after the crash, but it’s similar)
We both jumped out of our cars screaming, “Call 911! Call 911!” to the people who were running towards us to help. Then we crumpled to the ground.
Crushing pain in my chest. Trouble breathing. Tears rolled down my cheeks into my ears and onto the pavement.
As I shivered strangers covered me with their coats. A man lifted my skirt to make sure I wasn’t losing too much blood from the wound on my knee.
I still thought I was going to die, so I told the woman who was holding my hand to tell Drew that I loved him. I’ll never forget the kind strangers who stayed until the ambulance came a half hour later.
Drew and I didn’t understand the extent of my injuries at the time, but my seatbelt had dislocated a rib and given me deep black bruises across my chest and stomach. Internal bleeding from the cut on my knee had created a long bruise from my knee to my ankle. Two disks had ruptured in my lower back. My hands, shoulder, arms, feet, and ankles were badly sprained. My stomach had been pushed up into my chest and my esophagus was bruised.
My whiplash was so bad that I couldn’t hold my head up unsupported. I couldn’t hold a pencil. I couldn’t move my arms away from my body. I was in bed for a month and could hardly get to the toilet. Drew was an angel and did everything. He dressed me, helped me shower, left food by the bed.
I tried after a month to go back to teaching Junior High, but I was in agony. Drew literally had to put me in the car and put my hands on the steering wheel. Every night I came home and cried.
Finally I quit and didn’t work for 7 months. I wasn’t able to return to teaching.
Drew and I made it through all of it, but it didn’t have to be so hard. The thing is, we never asked for any help from anyone. We didn’t want to be a burden and we were fiercely independent at that time.
My story is extreme, but I wanted to tell it because so many of my clients won’t ask for or accept help. I think my story illustrates how crazy it is to think we have to do everything for ourselves.
Beliefs from childhood messages often prevent us from getting the help we need:
- Don’t be a burden
- You must be strong
- You can’t depend on others
- Asking for help shows weakness
What I’ve learned in the 20 years since the accident is that:
- People are happy to help
- Most people gain satisfaction from helping others, so you’re actually giving them a gift by asking for help
- You gain a stronger connection with others when you allow them to help you
- There are always opportunities to return the favor later
Since I’ve learned to ask for and receive help, I have a much stronger sense of community in my life, I’m much happier, and I’m able to accomplish much more. I’m now able to play a bigger game!
So the next time you need help, just ask! It’s up to them to let you know if they can’t help. But most likely it will be an opportunity for both of you to connect on a deeper level.