I was driving down the road in my neighborhood when I felt and heard a collision on the right side of my car. I immediately knew I'd clipped someone's car door which was parked along the side of the road and nearly left my car running to race out and make sure I hadn't hurt anyone.
I apologized profusely, even though I hadn't seen her open the door. I felt that since mine was the moving vehicle, I was to blame. Also, this apologizing mode is very automatic for me. Not to blame my childhood for everything, but it has child of an alcoholic all over it, I think.
It wasn't until I was driving away later that I realized that she was the one who'd opened her door into moving traffic and that it wasn't necessarily all my fault. I also realized that while I wish I weren't so quick to blame myself for everything, I'm glad I'm me. I'm glad I reacted the way I did instead of the opposite. I'm glad I got out of that car ready to take responsibility instead of ready to assign all the blame on others. I'm glad my first concern was for everyone's safety, NOT the state of my vehicle or how expensive repairs would be or why that woman opened her car door into traffic. I'm glad I was my true self, instead of hiding my vulnerability under a cloak of anger or righteousness.
So, whether my reaction was because of childhood programming, or my own neuroses, or the alignment of the planets, what I realized was that I'm ok. Seems like such a simple awareness to have. That all of me, faults, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and broken bits included, is good and worthy of love. This is something I've struggled with since I can remember being able to think. The fact that it took maybe 5 minutes for this to sink in is a victory. There was a time when this would NEVER have sunk in. I would have spent a lot of time thinking about how I was faulty and therefore it was my fault. I was a bad driver, a bad person, simply unworthy in every way. My hitting her car was my fault and my blaming myself was a symptom of how screwed up I was, and I was hopeless.
But not now. Now, I'm directing my thoughts elsewhere long enough to see a different perspective. Long enough to find value in myself as I am. I don't need to change to be worthy. I don't need to be better, smarter, prettier, nicer. I need to be me. The real me. And that's all I need to do.
Easier said than done, of course, but I'm getting there and I can see the progress.
What does this have to do with being widowed? Everything. In that moment of collision ALL I cared about was human life. I prayed a million prayers in the 5 seconds it took to run back to her car that no one's precious family member had been injured.
I'm not sure that would have been my reaction before I lost Dave. Now, a day is considered a success when no one dies, my loved ones are all safe in their beds and I can have a moment of peace and tranquility to balance out the little hardships of a day in the life of a human.
And somehow, through all the pain of the past two years, my heart has been broken open and somehow softened. Not dramatically, and not suddenly, but over time and so slowly that I can't always tell until I look back and compare the before and after.
I'm proud of who I am and I'm stronger than I ever thought possible, even when I feel as weak and as scared as ever. Realizing that is a victory in itself.