When to let go?

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iantm's picture
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Joined: Apr 2 2005
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I've been harboring some bitter, angry feelings for a few years now. In August of 2003, I was on my way home from work and my car broke down (needed a jump start) stranding me on the shoulder of Interstate 75 in Tampa, Florida. I was working nightshift at AOL at the time (and had just started on the broadband project that day), and left work at 1am in the morning, so getting stranded on the interstate was not only aggrivating, it was particularily frightening. Fortunately, the Florida Highway Patrol was more than happy to send one of their troopers to assist me. Problem was that it would take an hour for him to get to me. So I did what I could to pass the time, and wait it out. Since it was so late at night, I didn't want to bother any of my family members (and it would take them the same time to get to me as well). I wanted to stand on my own two feet, be independant, and so I waited.

A little bit after 2am, he arrived on the scene to ask what was going on and how he could help. I explained that the car's electrical system was on the fritz and that I'd need a jumpstart so I could get the car home and figure out how I was going to fix it from there. He pulled his car around so we could jumpstart my car (94 Saturn SC2), and we began the process as I sat in the car waiting for what needed to be done. Unfortunately, on the Saturns, and well most modern cars, the battery was covered and he couldn't find it under the hood. He called me out to help him find it. I managed to find the battery, we hooked up the cables, and started the process of jumpstarting my car. While he was hooking up the cables, he asked me to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.

I stood by the driver's door on my car so I could look out for traffic and start the car when he asked me to. I saw a set of headlights coming in our direction, the car seeming to straddle that line between the shoulder and the lane. I started running, screamed, the cop ran, and bam. The next thing I knew, I was on the passenger side of my car crawling to the passenger seat. I was in terrible pain, my legs hurt like hell. I managed to get into the passenger seat of my car with the help of the trooper. The car that had seemingly vanished. I couldn't see it. The trooper did basic vitals and stated that he was a paramedic as well as a cop and that he could stay with me or go after the woman who hit my car. I stated that I wasn't going anywhere but the person who hit me was. He stated that backup was on its way.

In the emergency room, the trooper informed me that I had been caught between the braces on the front of the cruiser and my car. Over the following weeks, I found out that from the accident, I was fortunate in no broken bones, but unfortunate with having post traumatic arthritis. Three weeks later, it turned out that I'd hit my head on the hood of my car and nobody thought to check that out. I had a grand mal seizure (they happen from time to time - stress related and currently under control via medication and lifestyle adjustments.

I finally got the information on the woman who hit me (thanks to Hillsborough county's online inquiries system). Her BAC was .281, and there were numerous felony and misdemeanor charges. It wasn't until November of 2003 that the case finally went to court. During one of the hearings, I caught her laughing at my limp (it was noticeable then) She accepted a plea bargain of two years house arrest with three years probation after that. In January 2004, she'd broken house arrest twice, and as of March 2004, she was a fugitive.

In February of 2005, she wass finally caught and brought into the custody of the state of Florida, where she will remain until sometime in 2007. Today, I received a Christmas card from her. She wrote a good amount in the card apologizing profusely, and explaining that she prays for me on a daily basis, wishing me well. I honestly don't know what to say, what to do. I've spent the last three years trying to cope with this situation, trying to handle things, despite the daily reminders (seizures, arthritis pain). I moved to Pennsylvania for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that it would be a nice change of scenery and that I wouldn't have any triggers for the flashbacks.

I want to wish her well, I want to let this go, but I thought I had, and now I have a lot of thinking to do. I used to think that this woman had ruined my life, but in some respects, the events of that night pointed me in a direction I needed to go, pointed out that I am indeed mortal, and that, well, it's not a good idea to drink and drive. I also want to be bitter, want to be angry and hateful, but that's too much energy to expend on someone who just got piss drunk and drove instead of calling a cab. I'm confused, and just don't know anymore.

It's a long long story, and I would like to apologize for the length of this post.

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- iantm
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moosemanmoo's picture
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Joined: Aug 17 2004
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I think that the best thing y

I think that the best thing you could do is to write to this woman basically all that you just said here. I would personally try to keep up correspondance with her, but I'm not in a position to understand how you feel.

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Joined: Sep 21 2004
Posts: 74
You've got to...

let it go. Take it from someone who has quite a bit of experience with situations like yours, you can find blame wherever you look for it. Blame the bar that served her? The friends that let her drive? How about Saturn for making a defective car? The police officer that didn't put you in protective custody in either your car or his? Blame the hospital for not finding your head injury after an accident like that?

It's entirely possible that this woman has found a better way of life and is trying to make amends. If you want to know, talk to her if you're feeling strong enough for it, at least you'll have an answer in that regard. Don't talk to her if you're full of rage, you'll have to keep an open mind if you're going to try that.

You can move to wherever you want, and a change of scenery is always pleasant, but if you don't deal with your problems they'll follow you wherever you go. You may do well talking to a therapist, someone specialising in post-traumatic stress. Whatever you do, do something, keeping it bottled up for this long is awful, doing it even longer will ruin you.

eeun's picture
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Joined: Dec 19 2003
Posts: 1891
It's often very difficult for

It's often very difficult for me to let go of anger, of stressful situations and memories, but I do me best to do so. I don't always succeed, but I keep trying.

I try to look at what I can gain from the experience...whether it's some insight, or perhaps the situation has been some catalyst that's brought positive changes elsewhere in my life.

I think you're able to forgive the other driver. You want to move past this experience, not dwell in it. Forgiveness is not the same as trust or interest, so I see no reason to correspond. Consider it the past.

You've been dealt a tough blow - literally - and I think from your post you're going to pass through this and keep on going. If it's really tough making that step to let go, maybe you should look to others with more expertise in this area - be they on the side of science or religion - than us well-intentioned and friendly Mac geeks (myself included Wink)

And thanks for sharing that with us...makes the place feel more like a community.
Ian(eeun)

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astro_rob's picture
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Joined: Mar 19 2005
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Move On

Time to let it go... it'd do you good to get past it. Trust me, experience here as well (though not as profound; just multiple).

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gobabushka's picture
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Joined: Apr 26 2004
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I agree

I think that she might have learned her lesson, which is exemplifyed by her sending you that card. This event was over two years ago. I lost my mother around the same time you were in this accident. I could have done one of two things. I could have been hateful and let it get me, or I could have been thankful for what I learned. I chose the ladder.

There's too much in life to be happy about. The secret is to try and find it. You mentioned that this accident showed you that drinking and driving was very bad, and that you are mortal. These are good things that you can take away from this. If you can forgive her, and then look at the good things, you will be a happier person in the end. That's just my advice.

Merry Christmas!

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dvsjr's picture
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Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 135
I don't...

...know what you are going through, either. I do want to share something with you though, something very important to me. Years ago, in NYC, a woman I cared for very much gave me a signed proof of a book from a writer named Andre Dubus. The book was excellent, and it means a lot to me. It was after I began to read more of his books that I learned that he had an accident, similar to yours. He stopped to help a young couple with their car in the breakdown lane. He saw the speedng car with enough time to push the woman out of the way, but the man was killed and Andre lost one leg, with the other permanently bent, putting him in a wheel chair. His book, meditations from a movable chair, is his coming to grips with this accident, and his return to writing after his rehabilitation. I guess the reason I am mentioning it is the hope that perhaps checking it out might ease your pain, help you to let go, showing you that no matter what we might be going through, there are some people who are or have done it to. And that might give you some comfort. I came across your thread tonight, I found the book under my bedside table this morning, after not seeing it for months. I read a small bit of one chapter, then headed to work. Weird.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/067943108X/103-0546084-2209416?v=glance&n=283155

Best,

David

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coius's picture
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Joined: Aug 25 2004
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I lost a cousin to a drunk driver a year ago.

and the worst part was that he got off. Sad And I know that I could have been mad at him, but all it did was put me in depression. when i learned that no matter what life throws your way, you manage to get thru it. But turning the other cheek takes a load off your chest. The fact that she wrote the card on her own, means that she wants forgiveness. we are all human, and all of us error.

But to forgive someone that has done you wrong means that you have compassion. if you think about it, what happens down the road, and you may do something that directly (or indirectly) may cause someone a lot of pain. If you realize this now, you would want forgiveness down the road. and if no one were to forgive anyone, the world would be full of hate. And that breeds more pain.

If you carry a grudge. you may live to regret it, and it will tear at your heart later knowing that you could have given someone else a chance, and you missed yours

If I can forgive someone that took the life of my very close cousin, you might think that you could forgive someone that has at least felt sorry for it. For all I know, the guy that killed my cousin could have killed someone else (i pray that he doesn't) as he had several DUI's that year (he had 20 of them) and kept getting off on them. And then they ruled that he was not responsible, as that he was not competant at the time, and therefore he was under the infuence. but this is justice for you. The only thing I wish, was that he would come to realize his ways, before he causes any more pain. I feel that it is not for humans to judge, as it is god's choice (I am kinda religious)

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iantm's picture
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Joined: Apr 2 2005
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It's been a long long journey

I want to thank everyone for their input, I've started on writing a letter to her. Perhaps by corresponding with her and keeping an open mind, I can forgive her and just let go of the whole thing. The events of that night set off a chain reaction of other key events in my life that have brought me where I am today. I'd like to have this monkey off of my back for 2006. While the physical pain will always be there, perhaps it'll ease the emotional pain.

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Reverend Darkness's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 502
A very wise woman once said....

"Holding a grudge and being bitter doesn't do anything to the other person... it only affects you. Why give them more power over you?"

... the woman is my wife, the Sunshine Angel.

In forgiveness, we find not a way to make the other feel better, but a way to make ourselves feel better about that person. Any negative feelings you harbor aren't going to magically cause that person to feel remorse or sadness, or feel the physical pain that you must be going through. By forgiving, you are allowing yourself to being to heal mentally and spiritually, which may just lead to healing physically.

You are making the right choice by writing to the woman. Don't be afraid to write what you feel, but try to rise above any negativity.

Also, as you stated, the events led you to where you are now. I beleive that certain events in a person's life are fated, and if she hadn't caused them herself, it could very well be that you would've gotten in an accident of some sort all by yourself on the way home. Try not to think of her as the cause of the accident, but simply as a tool to facilitate an accident that was fated to happen anyway.

... or get a case of Pabst and drink yourself numb... whichever works for you...

Smile

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catmistake's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Don't

Sorry, from a legal position, this is an extremely bad idea. Don't contact her for any reason.

Reverend Darkness's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 502
hmm....

...I didn't think about that. I was under the assumption that all of the legal issues had been handled.

If not, then do what CM says, and don't contact her at all.

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catmistake's picture
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IMHO

Its very easy for someone to say "let it go," and extremely difficult to do so. It may be the best solution, in the end, but it entirely ignores the principle of Justice. Some say this simply doesn't exist, so no harm done. Some say it does exist, but it exists only for the rich, and I think there is some truth to that. The system did what it could to deliver justice, and it usually is entirely unsatisfying. Short of reaching a Zen-like state of forgiveness and charity, I think the only solution is to take civil action. You can't go break her legs and knock her in the head to give her siezures, but you can sue her. I know that money seems trivial in an injury like this one, but from a psychological point of view, it actually does have a valid healing ability. Most psychologists/psychiatrists insist on a fee of some kind, even if it is small or what the patient can afford, because it is imperitive to the healing process and has little to do with their making a living. This works both ways too. You don't think that recieving money for pain and suffering will solve anything, but it will, and it will from her stand point as well. It will help bring closure. You are still suffering immensly, and you have a right not to suffer from this anymore. Talk to your insurance company, and if they have nothing to say, talk to an attorney about a (possibly second) civil suit (even if you already have received compensation for the original injury from her insurance co.).

Short of this... there is retribution, there is revenge. But I wouldn't recommend it from a Karma standpoint. Also... there is "getting tough." Step into the freezer...

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Joined: Mar 20 2005
Posts: 77
Sorry to hear about your troubles

Sorry to hear about your troubles. I have enjoyed your postings on Applefritter and you seem to have your head on straight.

Bad things happen to good people all the time in life. I believe you have received good advice here in forum but to honest, this is really something you need to decide for yourself. Noboby knows whats going on with you but you.

My two cents leans towards catmistake comments. Your drunk driver made decisions in her life to put her in the situation she's in. Don't see it as your problem to make it any more comfortable for her. I'm not a big believer in forgive and forget, nor do I believe lamenting over ones problems in life.

I think you are going to be just fine in 2006.