Last week I had an accident with my car. Ironically I was pulling into Old Bar Automotive to get my registration check. The car was sporting four new tyres to help guarantee that my Kia would pass inspection.
I missed the garage’s dirt driveway by just enough to land the car on top of a concrete culvert, basically putting me in a ditch, unable to move.
Why am I telling you this? Good question. I think I wanted to share with you, my readers, to help me release more of the shame I felt about this incident. Because that was indeed my first reaction…that I’d done something very shameful.
The accident was noisy and the two auto mechanics came running out to see what happened, which was pretty obvious. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt and the car didn’t seem to be noticeably damaged either. The first words out of my mouth were: Has anyone ever done this before? In unison, my new friends the mechanics nodded their heads ‘yes’. On a mood scale of one to ten, I felt 1.5 points better.
With their prior experience, the mechanics knew exactly what to do. Pete the Tow Truck driver needed to come out to save the day. He was on site within the hour. I spent that hour in self-flagellation, pacing the driveway in the hot summer sun because I couldn’t sit still. One of the dark tunnels I went down in my mind had me decide I was a dangerous driver and should give it up. Maybe even thinking it was because I was 77 years old–old!
Pete and his tow truck did a stellar job of getting the car back on the road. He was courteous, quick and kind, and so were the mechanics. David put the car up on the vehicle hoist, checked it over and drove it around the block. It was fine and passed rego.
I was getting a little bit fine, too. I’ll tell you what helped the most, and perhaps this is the reason to write my piece. I stopped beating myself up and changed my internal dialogue to be about gratitude. I was so thankful to those guys that self-criticism got trumped. I finally got to recognise that I had an accident. I’m human, had been rather tired after a busy day and as a result I’d had an accident. I needed to treat myself as kindly as those blokes had.
I firmly believe that telling the stories of our foibles and failings is the way out of shame. Being vulnerable and authentic are two goals that I’ve embraced. Perhaps ‘the universe’ throws accidents, illnesses, breakdowns, breakups and such in our path to test our ability, not to overcome them, but to remind us of our humanity.
If you’d like to read a little more about being human, here is a vintage post: Take Care: Pedestals Are for Statues Not People.