My recent post, "It Just Gets Worse," created a fair amount of alarm amongst my friends and readers.
Then again, it provoked a surprisingly large outpouring of "me too"s.
Because the truth is, it does get worse. It can always get worse.
Sure, sometimes the pain subsides. You come into some money. You start a new romance.
But most of these things are fleeting. You can be sure that things will always get worse.
Some may argue that the glass is half full, that the worse things are fleeting, and that everything will get better.
To those optimists, I say: things will get better, or they won't. Is this, right now, the worst it can get? No? Then things will probably get worse.
I think the assumption amongst those alarmed is that I wrote that post in a time of crisis, on the verge of doing something about it, but in truth, it had been percolating in my brain – and in my heart – for a long time. I just chose to write about it – to announce it publicly – in a time when things actually did get worse, and I abruptly and unexpectedly found myself with no source of income.
It wasn't a jump-off-a-bridge crisis. I mean, I've been down in the dumps before. I've been broke before. I've been brokenhearted before. I get it. I know how bad it can get.
Given that, I was terrified (and terribly curious) of what was yet to come.
And then it got even worse.
The worsening arrived in the form of a driver following me too fast, too close, perhaps too distractedly, ramming into me when I'd stopped abruptly to avoid hitting the car in front of me, who'd also stopped abruptly.
So, in saving the car in front of me, I bore the brunt of the impact, which was so ferocious, my assailant's hood popped up, front end shattered, innards smoking. In hitting me, he pushed my stopped car into the stopped car in front of me, ping-ponging me back and forth enough to warrant two medical diagnoses of whiplash and post-traumatic brain syndrome.
I don't really remember the impact itself, only the sound. The next things I remember were bringing my arms down from over my head, where they'd apparently popped up to help me duck for cover, and bringing my foot back down on the brake, with which it had lost contact at some point. A bruise that emerged on my shoulder indicated that the seat belt must've snapped my body back into place.
As the other two drivers pulled over to safety and got out of their cars, I was behind the wheel, unable to move, unable to process what had happened to me. I heard the passing cars crunching on the debris that had shattered across their path at the point of impact behind me.
I thought, "Oh my God, not this." I was already maxed out in my life. I couldn't deal with one more thing. A car accident was one of the worst things that could happen when I wasn't working.
The two other drivers peered at me through my windshield, asking me if I was OK. After all, I hadn't moved my car yet. I'd just burst into tears.
"I don't know," I sobbed.
All I knew was that I'd survived. And I wasn't relieved about it.
Having called the police, I finally pulled my car over out of traffic, and I wondered if I'd finally hit bottom. I'd declined paramedics for lack of medical coverage, but I knew I wasn't well. I was probably in shock. I was definitely dazed. I didn't feel so good, and I was pretty sure the physical pain was going to get worse.
And then I realized: I'd looked Death in the eye, and Death had laughed at me.
Even Death didn't want me.
Not yet, anyway.
In the aftermath of the accident, it's clear that that particular incident could've been a lot worse. I could've been a lot more hurt. My car could've been a lot more damaged.
And as I now deal with car insurance and repairs and medical examinations and physical therapy and prescriptions to ease the pain, as I try to unscramble my brains, undizzy my head, unhurt my neck and unblur my eyes, as exhausted and confused as I am, I know this is not the worst it can get.
How many more hits can I take?
To that, I say: We shall see.
It Just Gets Worse
The Forever Now
A Kick in the Head (Parts 1-4)