It’s been too long since I’ve posted to this blog — I will try to do better starting now. You may have noticed that the site has a new look, along with some new content. It’s still a work in progress (it’s always a work in progress, but especially right now) so let me know if you have suggestions for additional information or resources.
A friend recently described this site as “helpful but terrifying.” Many of the personal stories and comments are heart-wrenching, and the despair that so many CADIs experience comes through. But we tend to reach out to tell our story when we are lost and struggling. The majority of CADIs learn to cope with and eventually resolve PTSD and moral injury. Many choose to honor their victims through service, advocacy, creative expression, deepening spirituality, and/or living with greater compassion, care, and kindness. In this way, they transform trauma to growth.
So if you are suffering, know that this is a journey. You can and will feel better.
There is no way to rush this process, but psychotherapy or counseling can be very helpful. Some CADIs believe that they should be strong enough to cope without therapy. But asking for help and sharing one’s feelings can take more strength than holding it all inside. It also can be a kindness to family and friends, who worry about the CADI, aren’t sure what to say or do, and may themselves feel traumatized by the situation. Other CADIs believe that they do not deserve solace or support. I think this reflects a misunderstanding about therapy. The goal isn’t to eliminate or remove guilt or sadness, but rather to help us channel the energy attached to these feelings in a constructive manner. Therapy can also help us think more clearly about our values and how we want to respond to the accident.
For many years, I clung to my guilt, shame and fear about my accident. Even though I thought many times every day about the child who ran in front of my car, I hardly ever talked about him. The result was a lonely and constrained life. Opening up about my experience was helpful but terrifying. I felt relief, anxiety, and a new sense of hope.
I still think every day about the child that I hit and killed, and I wouldn’t want it otherwise. He deserves to be remembered. I try to honor him by treating others with kindness and by living with integrity and purpose. I regularly fall short, of course, but his memory helps keep me focused on what matters.