Where the Rubber Meets the Road
How to deal with life on life’s terms without losing your mind.
This week I planned to start a series on relationships, until I was broadsided by life in a way I wasn’t prepared for. That’s the thing about life; it seldom follows my plans.
I’m sure it’s true for everyone, at some time or another we end up in situations that challenge us physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Some of us innately handle life’s events better than others. I was born without coping skills or it seemed like it most of my life.
Maybe you are that person who doesn’t always process events in a healthy way. Some of us get angry, spiteful, vindictive, sad, depressed or feel like a victim. What happened to me this week left me in the latter category, more powerfully than I care to admit. I haven’t felt like a victim in so long I’d forgotten the damage a victim mindset can cause.
Let me try to break down what happened, and how it made me feel, think and act. Keep in mind I live on an Army base in Georgia.
Two days ago, I was talking to my husband who is currently deployed to Afghanistan, as I drove home. I was using my hands-free option, as required on post. I turned into my neighborhood, decided I wanted to grab a Starbucks before going home. I turned around, and as I was leaving the neighborhood, I failed to come to a complete stop at the stop sign before turning on the main road.
Of course, a military police car was radaring just outside my neighborhood entrance. The next thing I see are the car’s lights flashing in my rear view. I told my husband what was happening and ended our call.
I immediately pulled over, grabbing my license, registration and insurance card, anticipating his request for them. The officer walked up, asked me if I knew what I’d been stopped for. At the time I did not realize I’d rolled through the stop sign. He explained why he pulled me over, then took my information and headed back to his car.
After what seemed an incredibly long time, the officer comes back to my window to inform me I was under arrest. I was too shocked to speak. I had no idea why. Turns out, a speeding ticket I paid in Georgia in July, was reported as “failure to comply,” on my Indiana driver’s license. Basically, it meant the state said I never paid the ticket. Indiana suspended my license.
My mind immediately starts racing! First, I fractured my hip two weeks ago in a horse riding accident, requiring surgery, and am still walking with a cane. Second, my husband is in Afghanistan until next April. Third, my daughter is a Type One diabetic. I have three dogs and three horses I’m taking care of. And OMG, I’m getting arrested?!?!
I soon found out not only was I being arrested, I was getting the full treatment. Handcuffs were put on my wrists, despite the fact I can’t walk without my cane. I was made to sit in the back of the police car until we got to the station. The arresting officer planned to keep me in cuffs as he walked me into the building. I explained to him if that was the case, he needed to get a wheelchair, because I can’t walk unassisted. After thinking it over, he took the cuffs off.
I was taken through a secured area, into an intake room. Left alone, I waited for a good 20 minutes before the officer returned. He explained I was going to be finger-printed, have my photo taken and my personal items inventoried. All for a speeding ticket, one I had proof I’d paid.
The officer kept my license, gave me two citations and a court date in February. I was told not to drive until the matter was cleared up. Then I was free to leave. Ironically, I’d been to see my orthopedic surgeon earlier the same day, who released me to drive after two weeks of recovery from surgery on my hip.
Once home, I panicked as I began calling the Georgia and Indiana DMV/BMV. Neither claimed responsibility for the suspension. I was told it will take 14 days for the paperwork to process in order for Indiana to remove the suspension, 14 days I can’t drive, to the barn, to the doctor, to anywhere. There was no process to expedite the matter. After two weeks at home recovering from surgery, I was now a prisoner, at least in my mind. That’s how a victim mentality works.
Let’s unpack my little drama.
First, it was my fault I got pulled over. I rolled through the stop sign. The police officer had every right to flag me.
Out come the handcuffs. I’m 50 years old and have never experienced the humiliation of being handcuffed in front of my daughter and neighbors. I was rendered completely powerless. So I did what I do anytime I feel victimized. I got angry.
I sat in the back of the squad car listening to some random pop music, fuming. I was smart enough not to open my mouth. I learned long ago that is never the right tact. I remained quiet during the drive.
Once at the police station, I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland. I was so overwhelmed, everything seemed foreign. The only real humanity the arresting officer showed me was when he gave me an attaboy for how well I recorded my fingerprints. He didn’t say much about my mug shots or inventorying my purse. All of this over a suspended license.
Today I am still waiting for an answer so I can drive again. It’s funny, what we take for granted. I’ve never lost my license before, thankfully. I’m again reminded of the many freedoms we have in this country. When I forget the world isn’t here to serve me, I can lose my gratitude…and then every other good thing.
In addition to living in daily gratitude, I’ve learned how to not lose my mind every time I’m challenged. I’ve also learned to admit I don’t know everything. I keep God at the center of all areas of my life, including my heart. I try to be grateful when I am angry. I try not to take things so personally. I might have been victimized at some point in my life, but don’t call me a victim. I choose not to identify as one.
I had to accept my powerlessness over the entire situation, including people, places and things. My fairly organized life had suddenly become unmanageable. I had to let go of what I had no control over and focus on the actions I could take to bring about a positive solution.
I did what I could do, looked at my part in the situation, and turned the rest over to a God bigger than me so I could start letting go of the negative emotions I still carried. When I became willing to render the shattered pieces of myself to God, He began to restore me. God loves to receive us in our brokenness, for it is there He does His best work!