May 17, 2011 – An Event That Reshaped My Life

 

I’m going back to the original journalling that started this blog.  I rather abruptly ended in the late 60’s / early 70’s in my narrative of my early years.  Although this entry is 40 some years later, the events of that day, and what followed after have been on my mind.  It’s time I cleaned the pipes of my historical motor and get back on track!

On May 17, 2011,at 5:02 PM, while at a complete stop on my motorcycle during rush hour traffic on the Valley freeway (Washington Highway 167), Kent, Washington State,  I was suddenly, unexpectedly rear-ended.  I was at a complete stop waiting for the traffic to begin moving so I could enter the express lane about a 100 yards ahead on my left.  The impact caused the bike to begin veering into the slowly moving traffic on my right; the bike began leaning quickly downwards towards the road; the traffic to my right beginning to slow when the drivers saw what was happening, and then I realized I could no longer hold it up and jumped off to the left of the bike, landing in the center of my lane.  I looked back and saw the SUV that hit me, the lady behind the wheel horrified at she had done, her hands covering her mouth, her eyes saucer wide.  Cars in the express lane to the left were flying by at 65 mph or faster and the red semi to the right had stopped inches from the bike’s front wheel now resting in right portion of his center lane.  The driver got out and helped me move the bike to the right shoulder, first ensuring that the traffic in the farthest right hand land came to a complete stop while we wheeled the Beemer across the final lane to the safety of the shoulder.   The SUV that hit me close behind, a witness following.

My left leg felt on fire, both shoulders were hurting, and adrenaline was flowing full bore, making me hyper sensitive, dulling the pain.  A Washington State Patrol unit quickly arrived, I told the officer I was OK; the lady admitted it was completely her fault; traffic was crawling by on the freeway; and the officer took our information and provided me with the necessary accident details.

I called my wife and told her what happened; she was horrified and wanted to immediately come get me.  I told her that the bike was rideable and that I would be home before she could get here. I pulled the collapsed rear fender back from the tire, fired up the engine and eased back on the freeway and drove the remaining 25 miles home in a state of semi-shock.  When I finally arrived home, I tried to let go of the throttle, realized I could not unclench my fist and literally had to pull each finger on my right hand free of the throttle.

I told myself I was OK, I had walked away from the accident, it could have been worse, the impact could have been more severe, I could have been driven into the express lane.  I told myself and everyone else that I was alive and everything was fine.

Two weeks later, the enormity of what happened that sunny May afternoon struck me and events that I thought I had forgotten from a war long ago began to resurface, to haunt me, to cause problems at work and at home.  Events that I thought I had successfully dealt with many years ago were now tugging at me once more; reminding me of mortality – that, once again, I had escaped the grim reaper; it was not yet my time; thoughts that I never, ever, EVER expected to rise, to haunt me once more, now needed to be dealt with again; but now including the aftermath of that May afternoon low impact collision.

I finally took a week off from work to mentally, emotionally, physically process what had happened, to come to grips with Vietnam’s aftermath that I thought I never had any issues with.  I began writing as therapeutic means to understand everything, to put back what should have never resurfaced, to deal with my new reality.

The burning sensation in my leg turned out to be a second degree burn and took months to fully heal – the scar will not be going away.  Shoulder problems are still nagging at me.  However, I am alive and looking forward to life’s next chapter.

But life is never that simple and things are never that easy.

In August my best friend of over 40 years died and I went to his funeral.  After I returned home my mind now had to digest the loss of my friend as well.  Between August and October my mind was roiling with thoughts, things I could not deal with, and then in late October everything seemingly crystalized in my head and I realized I was in a bad place, within myself and with my family.  I went home and told my wife that I didn’t know what love was and if I didn’t know what love was, then it meant that I wasn’t in love with her.  I also told her wanted to leave home as I did when I was 18.  Trouble was, when I left home when I was 18, I joined the army and went to Vietnam.

As you can imagine, things went south very quickly between my wife and I and my son and his fiancé didn’t understand what was going on.  I didn’t understand what was going on.

We moved into different buildings and the next 18 months were chaotic, tense, and I began sessions with a counselor to help sort things out.  I reached deep into myself and began rooting out issues of my past and slowly, one by one, began to deal with the, beginning with abuse in 1954 from a family member.  That took a while, a long while and finally, I was able to deal with it successfully.  Then came the next insights of who I was, where I’d been, and slowly, surely, steadily my mind began opening up and I began to see the world in a different light.  I spent the better part of a year working through my past, understanding where I’d been, who I’d been, and that all along, I had kept to myself with my photography my only outlet.  I began meditation again – the Transcendental Meditation I’d began in Monterey in the early 70’s, I began focusing on the here and now, not yesterday, not tomorrow.

I began to see a purpose in my life again, began to understand that because of events in my life, I’d stonewalled everyone and everything for decades, including my wife who had been trying all those long lonely years to reach me, to  help me and all along, I’d told her I was OK, there was nothing wrong, everything would work out.

I realized that I had done the same things with my friends over time and one by one, I lost touch with those who were trying to keep in touch.

As time went by we were hot and cold with each other, we had times when everything seemed OK then crashed again.  Finally this New Year’s Eve, everything came to a head, tempers really flared and divorce was now on the table.  Then a few days later, I pulled back, realized what a jerk I’d been and began reaching out to her and she to me.  It was a hesitant start but different this time.  Now, we are both in a much different place.  We each have a better understanding of each other, out past, there’s no more suspicion, more trust in each other.

I’m now in a much better place.  I have confidence in myself, I know more of who I am than ever before, I life more now in the present.  I realized that the past is a path to the present, to learn from, to understand, to help with today and that tomorrow is, well, tomorrow.  You can plan as much as you wish but to make those plans happen, you have to be present today to allow tomorrow to take place.

My wife and I are at peace with each other, in fact, probably the most we’ve even been in 36 years of marriage.  It is a grand feeling!

Each day I meditate, not the Transcendental Meditation of earlier but a different form of meditation .  I take time whenever I can in my day to reflect upon the translucent blue and golden hue double helix that – that I see in the center of my mind.  It helps me focus, brings peace within me, and each time I feel this way, I feel connected to the universe, to life, to those I love, and to today.

I have realized that by not being who I am, I have caused many problems.  I can only hope that the changes that have happened in me over the past many months will allow those in my life to trust me once again.   To this end, I offer my sincerest apologies to my wife, my son, his finance, and to my friends for being the way I was for all those years.

Life is today, not yesterday, not tomorrow, today!

Tommy

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One Response to May 17, 2011 – An Event That Reshaped My Life

  1. syrbal says:

    Because, Darling, though you don’t dance you like to watch….so…

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