When You Are At Fault

Something really terrible happened on Monday. I rear-ended a car and the driver was injured. This is the first accident I have ever been in as a driver in my 20+ years of driving. And it was my fault. It was at a notoriously blind intersection and I was temporarily blinded also by the sun, which was low and directly in my vision. But still. I took full liability to everyone (insurance company included), but I am very worried about the man I rear-ended. I keep asking our insurance adjuster to see if he’s OK. I want to track him down and send him flowers or something, but I only have his first name. I apologized a lot to him at the scene, but it doesn’t feel enough. I wish I could rewind the morning. Make it come undone.

I have been trying to do one good deed a week since September outside of helping my immediate family, always my number one priority. I feel like I was kind of on a roll. I have made meals for families, committed small, random acts of kindnesses (like always letting cars merge in front of me, giving to charity), sent gifts to those in need.

So then, this. This is the opposite of a good deed.

As someone going through infertility and loss, we are so often the victims of circumstances. But here I am not a victim.

Dear readers. You have always helped me before. How do I move past this? How do I make amends to this nice man, who did nothing to warrant this awful accident? How do I forgive myself? Have you ever been involved in a situation where you were to blame?

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “When You Are At Fault

  1. I don’t know the answers to your questions. It sounds to me like you’ve already done a lot by apologizing at the scene of the accident, and taking full responsibility. I know that it can be agonizingly hard to forgive yourself after something like this. I know how the feeling of wanting to go back in time and erase something. But in this case, from what you said about the intersection and the angle of the sun, it sounds to me like there was very little, if anything, you could have done differently to prevent the accident.

    I like your idea of tracking the man down and sending flowers. I have this weird image of you using the insurance company as some sort of intermediary to get him a get-well bouquet. I know that probably won’t work, but I like the idea of it . . .

    Mostly, though, I just want to hug you and tell you not to be too hard on yourself. So here are some (((HUGS))).

  2. Mo

    Oh hon, you have to stop beating yourself up over this. It happens to the best of us. Especially in a problem intersection you can’t let yourself get this upset. If you really feel bad and can’t get a hold of the man, maybe do one day of volunteer work at a hospital to ease your mind? But really, you shouldn’t feel this bad…
    Sending you a huge hug!

  3. Oh honey- I am so sorry that this happened. I think you are trying your hardest to get through the emotions surrounding it.. and our sincere regret and apologies are the biggest start.
    I think we have all been in situations where we are to blame- the biggest step is asking forgiveness, which you have already done. It is hard that you cannot talk to this person face to face, but just feeling it in your heart has to be the best start.
    Love and light…

  4. I’ll make you feel better by telling you about the time I totally rear-ended an old man WITH AN OXYGEN TANK who barely spoke English on a bridge on a rainy night in Vancouver. The poor man’s daughter had to call me and he was all worried I’d say it was his fault.

    Conversely, a few months after that a bloody dump truck backed over my car totally crushing the front end and the asshole had the gall to lie and say I rear ended him.

    The moral? Accidents happen–at least you’re owning up to it and being compassionate. Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help anything.

  5. Trinity

    Man, I am so sorry to hear about this, jjiraffe. Accidents are called accidents for a reason. I am so glad you are okay. While I do think you’re being too hard on yourself, I know I’d be thinking and feeling the same things. I’m not sure how to move beyond this. I find myself doubtful that the insurance company would act as an intermediary, but perhaps they would. I think it would be a terrific gesture of kindness to write a letter or something to him, even if it does not make its way to him. It could simply be therapeutic to get those words out onto paper…

    My hubs was in an accident (deemed his fault) a couple of years ago where the morning sun obscured a red light. Thankfully this was in a 25mph area, so everyone was okay… My husband was so distraught, and when he approached the other driver, she said, “I was on my way to my colonoscopy appointment, and I didn’t think my day could get any worse.” They both laughed at this. He, too, was profusely apologetic, and she understood. I guess my point is that this gentleman may truly understand already that you are apologetic and kind and thoughtful, just from the brief time you spent with him.

    X

  6. Peg

    A few weeks ago I rear ended somebody too. Totally my fault and I felt terrible. Thank God nobody was hurt and all of the damage was on my car. Accidents happen and the fact that you feel so bad about it speaks volumes about you as a person. Try not to be so hard on yourself, everyone makes mistakes. Hang in there!

  7. I’m sorry. I think you should remember, though, that the operative word is here ACCIDENT. You were at fault but there it not the least bit deliberate.

    Just to give you an image of how great a person you are, compare your situation to the butthead who rear-ended me when I was in grad school. Luckily, I wasn’t actually hurt, just a little sore in the neck and startled – and I wasn’t worried about my car, which is the luxury of having bumpers and driving beaters, but when I got out of the car I found another student grimacing as he examined every centimeter of the front end his brand new red vw bug. It took him several minutes to even look at me because he was so worried that he had scratched his baby. No, are you ok? Just the memory of that makes me cringe. I should have called the cops because he was such a disgrace to humanity but I just wanted to get on with it.

    That probably doesn’t help too much but I do believe that it makes an enormous difference to just be a decent human being.

  8. I am so sorry about your wreck, and I’m sure I’d be feeling horribly guilty too. Remember that it was an accident. You absolutely did not mean for it to happen or were in any way negligent. Your worry and guilt demonstrate your excellent character, so try to cut yourself some slack. BTW, happy birthday to the twins!

  9. Like slowmamma, I was going to reiterate that the operative word is accident. Taking responsibility and apologizing are the first — and most important — steps … though I like the idea of trying to find out if he’s OK.

    AND: the opposite of a good deed would be a BAD deed. Something intentionally bad. Which you haven’t done here, in the least.

    *hug* … and *hug* your twins for me. Happy birthday to them! They are lucky to have such an awesome mom.

  10. Oh no! Accidents are horrible for everyone involved. Obviously this wasn’t the result of bad motivations or decisions, just bad luck, so I don’t think that beating yourself up is helpful. I know it’s hard to forgive yourself, but try to think about it the other way around–if someone had rear-ended YOU, and you were hurt, if they were profoundly apologetic and regretful, and if they weren’t doing something selfish and stupid like driving way too fast, driving drunk, or texting while driving, wouldn’t you forgive them?

  11. Esperanza

    I have been in quite a few accidents and they were all my fault. Each time I felt terrible and I lost confidence in my ability to drive for months afterward. I think you just have to give yourself time. Eventually you will forgive yourself and you’ll gain confidence in your abilities again. In the meantime be gentle with yourself.

  12. Oh, I’m so sorry you are going through this, and that the man is, too!

    Intention does count for something. (1) You did not intend to hurt him, and (2) You intend to send him your good wishes and apology, in whatever way you can.

    While you are trying to make amends to this man in particular, one of the other things you can do is offer forgiveness to someone else who may have wronged you, even if it’s only in your heart. This falls under the “what goes around comes around” category. When you put out forgiveness, you open the channels to receive forgiveness.

    In doing this, you will find it easier to forgive yourself.

    🙂

  13. So sorry to hear this. You do like Buddhism thinking, right. So all that happens try to accept it as a part of life. Not easy at all but it does help. If you feel guilty – accept the guilt and then try to move past it. Just my thoughts..

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