It was one of those days. Those bad days. Very bad day. Everything was going wrong.
It started when I arrived at work and realized that I had forgotten my book bag where I carry everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING…my whole life is pretty much stuffed into that black bag) at home. I rushed back home, grabbed my book bag, and then returned back at work only for me to find out that my wallet, cell phone, and my notebook that I carry religiously around with me was missing. I literally stopped breathing and then oxygen came back when I remembered that I left all these items in my other bag at home (of course!). After much mental debate, I decided to drive back home yet again to get my wallet and cell phone because I knew I was not going to be back home until much later at night due to a craft activity I was going to that evening. The day progressively worsened. I spilled hot scalding hot tea on myself. I rushed to the gym for a quick swim before the craft event to try to recover and get a bit of better back or bare minimum of good in my bad day only for my ear plugs to break. I was rushed and late for the craft event to the point that I missed out on the beginning instructions. I could finally feel myself relaxing in the craft class. My tense shoulders were loosening up. My anxiety level was decreasing. I breathed a sigh of relief when I brought my completed crafted candle into my car to get home for a piping hot dinner and kitty cat Ricky to warm up my lap and spirits.
Finally, this day was going to end on a good note. I blasted Christmas music and bopped my head to the happy tunes in my car with a relieving thought that, FINALLY, this bad day was not going to get any worse. That was pretty much the last words I thought to myself when the luminous wide eyes of a deer was suddenly staring straight into my eyes only inches from my car. I screamed: “Nooooo!!!” as I slammed on the brakes as hard as I could only to feel the crashing impact of the car and deer colliding. It was happening too fast, yet in slow motion. I was numb. I was shocked. I was shaking all over. I was breathing, but I was not. That did not just happen. That could not have just happened.
The jolly Christmas music was still playing. My car was still drivable. This had to be a dream. No, this had to be a living nightmare. I pulled over. Even with the slight sliver of the moon in the sky above, I could see that the front of my car had been badly damaged. I could not even think straight. Do I go home? Do I call the police? What happened to the deer? Is the deer alive? Was anyone hurt? Or killed? Was I okay? I did not even know. My mind was racing a mile a minute. I was going to just explode right then and there. I slowly drove my car out. Not a car on the dimly lit road. I looked for the carcass of the deer, but there was nothing to be found. I quickly decided to go home. After all, I was only five minutes away. As soon as I shakily stepped foot into my apartment, I decided to do the first logical thing: Call my car insurance. I could barely manage to speak on the phone. I was trembling all over. I was talking, but my mind was in a fog when I was on the phone. Then, when I finally spoke with my neighbor to ask her for help to get a ride with her the next day to work, I burst into sobbing tears to her. I was hungry and drained but forced myself to go out into the dark cold to clean out my car for the towing company to take my car the next morning. My other neighbor who just arrived home asked in the dark: “Mary? Is that you? What are you doing out here in the cold so late at night?” I burst into tears all over again. She wrapped me in her arms to hug and comfort me. She helped me carry my stuff to my apartment.
I could barely talk and said through my choking tears with a croaky voice, “You are always helping me. How can I ever repay you? What can I give to you?”
“Mary, you do not have to give me anything. You do not owe people anything. Helping you helps me. Giving to you gives to me.”
All of a sudden, I felt so small and tiny. Like a little girl trapped in my adult body. I just wanted to be swaddled and cradled close. I wanted to feel safe again. Slow and steady tears wet my face. I was starting to calm down, but I was completely numb and in shock. I spoke with my Dad, but, again, my mouth was moving to talk, but my mind was not present. It was then I did what I had not done in the longest time: I reached out to friends I had isolated myself from in the past year or so. I had always put a façade of having ‘my s*it together’ and to be the one to give and help others. I had always felt responsible for others. It was hard for me to ask for help. It was even harder for me to show my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Call it pride. Call it stupidity. Call it just me being me. Call it everything and anything. I think all these tears I was crying was an extremely delayed reaction of everything that had built up in these last couple of years and not just on this bad day that had taken a turn for the worst. I suddenly did not care if people saw the worst side of me that needed help and needed taking just as much as I had given and could give from me. I had a strong urge that I needed comfort, care, warmth, safety, and sanity. Immediately, one of my friends called me up to check on me. Within the next couple of weeks, friends offered and took up driving me around because they knew how scared and leery I was to drive at night in a huge rental car that I was unfamiliar with and after the deer accident that clearly shook me up to the absolute core of me. People called to check in on me, fearing that I was battling yet another health challenge. My family and particularly my father consistently reminded me to take it slow and pace myself better. I also contacted a deer refuge/sanctuary to donate money to the deer to try to alleviate my profound and unexplainable guilt and horror. I know it seemed like overboard to do this, but this car incident with the deer really brought me a place of deep contemplation and a new understanding. I will never know if this deer lived or died, but I do know that this deer taught me some of life’s greatest lessons: Slow down, Pace yourself, Give to and Help myself in order to give to and help others, and Sharing and Showing the worst part of ourselves to become better and stronger together in a collective means not just an individualistic and island means because, indeed, we are not floating islands. I am still working on this. We are, as I always say, works in progress.
I am learning that the great gifts our vulnerabilities and weaknesses give is to give to and help others. I always felt and still do feel like I ‘owe’ others and that nothing is for free. There are no free rides. It has been thrown in my face when a person has given to me only to have high expectations that I cannot meet. I am learning and seeing that when there is love and someone genuinely love and cares for another then there is giving without owing, expectations, explanations, and guarantees of returns. My father always said that there are ‘givers’ and ‘takers’ in this life. I hope to do and be good. I hope to give. I hope to help. I hope just be okay with others and myself for deep peace within ourselves and around us.
Are you a giver or are you a taker? When did you with expectations for returns and only to be left disappointed? When have you shown your worst and most vulnerable sides for people to try to pick you up? What is the greatest 2018 lesson you have learned?
A most peaceful, joyous, and healthy new year to all.
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,