I am not by nature a believer of the “Everything Happens for a Reason” philosophy, but perhaps many things that we go through are no less life-altering.
No matter how many lengthy facebook posts I write, or how many texts I carefully draft out before hitting “send”, I never know quite how to begin…
Maybe I will just start with the DUI I got a couple of weeks ago. That got your attention, didn’t it?
I always thought the people who got DUI”s were the people who drank every day when they got home, were out at the bar every night, falling down and knocking over chairs. I am none of those.
I’ve always been the “go out on Sturday nights with a few friends and have a couple of beers” girl.
Things had not been going well. I turned 48 in October and had some challenging issues in my personal life. So…on a Wednesday night some girl friends and I decided to have a Girls Night Out. Two days prior to our evening out, we had to deal with the fact that one of the girls in our group of friends who had battled depression and alcohol addiction had taken her life.
I can’t and won’t pretend that I was close to her, but whenever someone my age dies, it really terrifies me. I am a believer in God ( but perhaps have not completely learned to trust in him), and have to confess to a fear of death (as though every living person on the face of the earth does not share that fear). I have a girlfriend that says I’m afraid of dying alone. Hmmm…..There’s a thought…..but the fact is everyone dies alone (excluding the presence of God of course).
Don’t worry; this is not a cautionary tale of mixing depression with alcohol. It’s more of an exposure of my flaws to you early so that there is a “nowhere to go but up” kind of thing for you to observe.
As I said, I had been very depressed since my birthday, and my anxiety had been off the charts for the last month. For some reason I had felt a sort of paranoia set in…Everyone was most certainly against me (or so it seemed)–everyone that I was close to, except my four-year-old grandson Mikey, and my 16 1/2 year-old dog Simba.
There were about eight of us that ventured out that fateful evening. I hadn’t seen anyone in a month or more; I just hadn’t felt like seeing anyone. Anyway…enough of the boring and trivial details….
I left the bar upset and listened to depressing songs on the car radio until I began to weep uncontrollably.
When I was about two minutes from home, I plowed into a ditch and mangled a telephone pole. I felt fear wash over me as I tried to get out of the ditch. The mud was so thick, I think I just made it worse.
So many thoughts ran through my mind…
I knew I was in serious trouble, and about to make the afore-mentioned woes worse. I wasn’t hurt physically, but a dozen conflicting thoughts raced through my mind.
I wondered about our friend who had ended her life. Had she been feeling like I had been feeling? Had her demons taken control, and had she had any regrets?
Fortunately, suicide has never really crossed my mind….not for any moral reason, but just in case that whole “burning in hell for all eternity” thing they taught us in Catholic School has any basis in reality, I’m playing it safe….I thought about arguments with loved ones, I thought about what would have happened if I didn’t go home to my dog? What if my daughter, my grandson– my BFF, had never been able to see me again? And worst of all…How would I have lived with myself if I’d hurt someone else??
Yes, even though I had behaved illogically on this particular occasion, my logical brain was still thinking….and if you know me at all….over-thinking.
By the time the sheriff’s deputy arrived, he could clearly see that I was okay, but there had to be a reason I wrecked my car. He of course had to ask if I’d been drinking. My response was, ” Well, yeah.” He said it was the first time he’d asked that question, that an individual just came out and said “Well, yeah.”
While I’d like to pretend that the reason I can’t lie has to do with honesty and integrity, the real reason is that I am incapable of lying. I’m really very bad at it; I am sure everyone can see through me.
The deputy had no recourse but to arrest me. He told me as he was escorting me that it was sad because my driving record was better than his, and he’s a cop.
I opted to take the breathalyzer and blew .10–about one beer over the legal limit.
Apparently drinking, sobbing, and subsequently driving are not things that are meant to be done within narrow time constraints. Yes, I should have stayed home and watched Christmas movies on Netflix.
Let me make it clear that this has been the worst nightmare of my life (though it has been pointed out to me that as nightmares go, by the age of 48 it’s not the worst one I could have had). The financial aspect alone had the potential to be devastating, especially if they totaled my car and of course the over-thinker in me obsessed over that. I continue to be plagued with depression and anxiety, but now I have magnified it. Well done.
I obtained a public defender, it is my first offense, I did blow very low on the breathalyzer, and by all accounts I was cooperative. The judge appeared to be compassionate towards me and though I continue to fear the situation I am in, I know a huge part of that is simply wanting it to be over with…to be able to put it behind me and get on with my life.
I am still unable to sleep ( but in all honesty I never really have). When I think of how much worse it could have been had I hurt someone, I am grateful beyond words. If I had hurt someone else, the court would have forgiven me, and God would have forgiven me long before I would have forgiven myself.
I have received so much support and compassion from all of the people I previously thought didn’t care about me. A person dearest to my heart cleaned out his bank account to bail me out of jail, and later stated that there was nothing we couldn’t get through together.
The following evening I made a Facebook post chronicling what had happened because I wanted all of my friends and family to hear it from me. I wanted them to know that I wasn’t making excuses, that I was showing accountability, and taking responsibility for my actions….and….Yes, to some extent, providing the previously denied allegation of the cautions of mixing alcohol, depression, and driving.
Maybe if my deceased friend had reached out, she’d still be here…
Maybe if I’d reached out I’d never have gotten into this situation…
One thing is certain however; there are no do-overs. Whatever happened, happened. There is no plausible deniability.
MOST importantly however, all that being said, nothing is irreversible.
We can always change the path we’re headed down, and we can always make other choices, even when we can’t undo the poor choices we already made.
I cried myself to sleep the night after I made my DUI post and woke up to the most amazing outpouring of compassion and support.
Maybe if I’d never gotten into trouble, maybe I’d never know I’d made an impact in people’s lives so that they would want to impact mine.
I may have a long hard road ahead of me…probably most of it lived in my head already (that over-thinking thing again).
I have gotten all kinds of advice on how to handle myself in that court room January 8th. The most profound and simplest advice came from someone who knows me well: “Just be honest, Corrie. That’s your strength.”
I will do what I always do when I’m terrified, and that is follow the advice of my hero Jack from “Lost”: I will let the fear in for five seconds. I will let it completely overwhelm me and take over.
And then I will do what I have to do, and I know that in doing so I will be a stronger and a better person for it.
There is no mess we can get ourselves into that hope cannot overcome and open the doors of opportunity that we never even considered walking through.
Nowhere to go but up !