Emotional processing time, car accident edition:
Tonight a woman ran a stop sign and t-boned my car that was driving straight along Hollywood Blvd. I was alone in the car and I’d never been in an accident of that caliber before. I didn’t really know what to do. The woman was a 55yo Armenian who reacted with hysteria when the cops arrived, insisted on an ambulance even though she was walking, screamed at me calling me a fucking bitch, and lied and said I didn’t have my lights on (I did). She lived a block away. Her whole family showed up. The cops had to keep her belligerent daughter from coming at me because of course she couldn’t accept that her mom was at fault.
Anyway I had a moment where I was like… wtf do I do. I didn’t know who to call. I called my mom who lives in Nevada, but I didn’t know who to call for local support. I texted a friend who I knew would be up but would be unlikely to be able to meet me in person, and I texted a friend who was in the middle of running the party I had been on my way to. I was also like, do I need anyone? I had a moment where I forgot I could take a Lyft home.
I’m home now and I’ll deal with everything tomorrow. I’m sore and I have no health insurance but I’ll get to an urgent care or something.
But this brought stuff up for me:
I was not at fault for the accident, my car suffered more damage, and yet I had less support. And I wonder how much of that is just me creating that with a mindset of fear around anything less than complete self-sufficiency. I had a father who mocked my crying as “crocodile tears” and yelled harder when I cried, and a mom who was fond of saying (not unreasonably given her marriage) that a woman needs a man the way a fish needs a bicycle. I’m so angry but mostly I’m angry at myself, or angry at whoever instilled this belief in me that my emotional needs are an embarrassment to me, that any support that I need emotionally (and not logistically) is just cringeworthy attention-seeking. I’m angry that I’m always the person with no one around in times of crisis. I’m angry that I only think I warrant support when it’s physically necessary.
I texted the two friends I mentioned and a couple friends texted me after hearing but like it was 2am when I got home and I don’t think I merit someone coming over and making me tea just because I got in a car accident. But now it’s 3:45 and I’m still shaking and I can’t see myself falling asleep anytime soon. And I’m mad because I want to let myself be in hysterics and get carted away on a stretcher even though I’m literally walking around and have my whole damn family there. I didn’t even cause the accident.
But I don’t, ever. And I don’t know that I’ll ever know when it’s appropriate to hurt and to what extent. I wrote about this 6 months ago, ironically after a friend got in a similar car accident and had no problem asking for care and attention. And I’m frustrated that I haven’t figured it out yet, that I have no idea what kind of help I should be asking for.
Again I called the cops, called my insurance, called a Lyft home. I didn’t really need help, I guess.
But I’m mind-burningly angry at how much support showed up for the woman who ran a stop sign and hit me, when I was standing there all alone with my now-ruined car, and there’s probably no one to blame for that but myself.
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Emotional processing, car accident edition, part 2 (this one’s really vulnerable, so I may change my mind and privatize it soon):
Background: Last night I was in a severe car accident. A woman ran a stop sign and plowed into the front passenger side of my car as I was driving down Hollywood Blvd. I’m ok, if in a lot of both emotional and physical pain today, but my car is totaled, the airbags deployed, the whole front is gone (pics and more details on my page).
The thing that triggered me most was how much support this woman had on the scene just 10min later – her whole family, several of them trying to scream at me to the point that the cops had to come between us – and how even though her vehicle was barely damaged and she was walking around just fine, she made a huge display of hysteria in front of the police and insisted on an ambulance and a stretcher. And there I was standing next to my now-ruined car, alone, wondering who I could possibly call for support. I waited for the car to get towed and then took a Lyft home.
I have had multiple people reach out to me today after I made a Facebook post about the incident – overwhelmingly so, in fact – and I am deeply grateful to know that I am cared about… but I am so disconnected from my own needs that I don’t even know what to begin to ask for. This isn’t on you guys, it’s on me. I have been so shamed for having needs in the past that it’s painful to even try to think of them.
My life at this point is purposely curated to create good feelings in people so that it’s easy and fun for them to show up for me. I have a beautiful home where I live by myself that I specifically set up for entertaining, and I can’t remember the last time I dated someone that I wouldn’t straighten up for every time before they came over. I throw dinner parties so I can bring my friends together by cooking for them, I create events like Peace Talks and play shows with my band so that whenever I ask for support it’s always designed to be a fun experience. Even when I go to my weekly goth party here in LA, it’s easier for me to go there when I’m working doing rituals. Essentially, I remain in control of the interaction at all points. It only feels safe to ask people to show up for me when I’m at my best. I’m that annoying Marilyn Monroe quote but in reverse.
On the surface, it looks like I’m letting people in, because I can be warm, welcoming, giving, and certainly I have no problem with retelling my experiences in a vulnerable manner. But the truth is that I’ve isolated to protect myself. I haven’t been monogamous since 9 years ago when I had to bail a boyfriend out of jail. I live alone because a former best friend who was my roommate bounced her rent checks and moved out, leaving me to front her rent arrears in housing court to keep my home. And that’s not even touching on the emotional pain and sexual assaults I suffered at that time. (Did I mention there’s a lot of darkness in my past? Sorry.)
It’s really fucking sad and ironic how much work I put in over the last decade to “work on myself,” when really what I was working on was having a picture perfect self-sufficient life that made all my interactions with other humans safe for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home and my work and my parties and my band and my web series, but the caretaking element is a glaring imbalance. This past year I’ve committed to a healing path to release my conditioning and dissociation and get back into my body, and getting back into my body seems a cruel fucking joke when I just got into it so it could experience the pain of a car accident.
The point is, the accident last night taught me that I have no frame of reference for being taken care of. I can’t even begin to picture what it would look like; trying to think of what to ask for is in itself painful work, because I was taught that it was painful for me to have needs, and it’s not lost on me the irony of being called to step into something that is painful for me when my physical and emotional bodies are in so much pain right now already. I’m really uncomfortable here. I’m shame-spiraling, feeling broken and defective for not knowing how to help other people help me, even when I know how many people have offered. I just don’t know what to tell them. I just feel miserable and alone and incompetent and in pain.
I have no idea where to start building a frame of reference for receiving care. For someone who spent so long being a submissive, I suck at not being in control.