Dealing with uncertainty in life and health: Sometimes trees fall on cars
Even when we think we are fully prepared for something, life can throw us a surprise. If you have followed my blogs over the years, this one may sound a little familiar because I’m going to talk about a hurricane that impacted me…again! If you click here, you can read that first blog and everything I went through with my life and health when a tree limb went through my living room roof and caused all sorts of damage. Below are photos of the trees that fell.
The hurricane I discussed in that first blog was Florence in 2018. A few months ago, we went through Hurricane Isaias, which was a smaller storm and much faster moving. Not many people were worried about it compared to other storms, but this one packed a pretty mighty punch in a very short period of time.
I spent several days preparing everything I could think of in case of power outage and damage to my home; especially given the damage I experienced a couple years ago. I have a neurological movement disorder called dystonia, so I also prepared myself for the stress of the storm to protect my health. One of the main things I did was get everything in place so if I were to have an outage or damage to the home, I had an exit plan.
What I neglected to do was take enough precautions with my car, which is only a year old. I take really good care of it and keep it in excellent condition. As luck would have it, one of the tree limbs that fell decided to land directly on the car. Something I did not expect or properly plan for. It was in the back of my mind, but there was only so much I could do to prepare for the all the unknowns.
I heard a crash at 11pm the night of the storm. When I looked in my driveway and saw the car covered by a tree, I was pretty distraught to say the least. I spent 12 years saving my pennies to buy that car. I’m not a car guy or anything like that. I just take pride in things I have worked hard for, especially having lived with a health condition that prevents me from making money where I can buy things very easily, so this is a symbol of many years of hard work. My last car was 18 years old and literally held together with duct tape.
So, what do we do when things like this happen that are totally unexpected so we are not burdened with a health problem due to stress or have an increase in an existing problem? Most of us have an initial reaction of course that can range from anger, sadness, fear, worry, anxiety, and so many other emotions. But what do we do next?
We take one step. THAT’S IT. Literally take one step by asking ourselves, “what do I need to do right now for myself so my emotions don’t get out of control and have this impact my health?” AND “what do I need to do first to begin dealing with and hopefully resolving this problem?”
The very first thing I did was tell my girlfriend and my parents. I needed emotional support. It happened at 11 o’clock at night so there was very little else I could do until morning. The next day I assessed the damage in the daylight. My next step was to call the insurance company to find out how to proceed with a claim. Once I got all of that information, I took a break to rest my stressed mind and body.
While I was doing this, my girlfriend, neighbors, and relatives, who are absolute angels, helped clean up all of the tree limbs and other debris around my house. They know that my body can’t withstand the demand of that kind of work, especially while I was in so much distress about the car. My next step was contacting an auto body shop. Two days after the accident, the body shop and insurance company were in contact and the process for repairing the vehicle was in the works.
Able to breathe a sigh of relief that everything would work out fine, I allowed myself to emotionally purge. I went through several bouts of crying. I released all the emotions inside of me that I was initially resisting so that I could take care of the immediate business with my insurance company and repair shop. I knew that if I prolonged taking care of these things, my mind and body would be in much more distress. I know many of you with and without specific health problems can relate because stress and strong emotions can very much impact our health status. PLEASE allow yourself to express your emotions, whether in private or with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist.
What has made this extra difficult for me is that I try so hard to do all the right things in my life and then something like this happens which totally throws me off course. What is really throwing me off course more than anything at this point is the horrible work by the repair shop. I have never seen such incompetence and terrible customer service. After 2 months of having my car, they still haven’t gotten it repaired properly. Everything they have done flies in the face of how I operate and how I try to live my life, so I struggle to reconcile such behavior.
This leads me to the final lesson I want to share in this blog. We can’t control other people. Also, when we want to give up and give in and maybe even be lazy like other people around us (I’ve thought of saying screw it and throwing in the towel and stop trying so hard if so many others couldn’t care less), don’t ever change who you are and how you are for the sake of others. Please understand that life always throws us twists and turns, and there will be incompetent, uncaring people in our lives. The most important thing is how we respond to it and how we let the situation or experience define us. It is also important to not let tough events and hard to deal with people overshadow the wonderful things and wonderful people in our lives. Sometimes it’s easy to forget this when we are faced with challenging people and situations. Turn towards gratitude when you find yourself lashing out in anger.
We can’t control trees falling. We can’t control the behavior of others. We only have so much control over our health. We can only control our reaction or response to people and things that happen in life. No one and no thing can make us feel a certain way unless we allow it. How we feel about everything is 100% our responsibility. I know it is VERY hard to live this way, but we are given opportunities all day long to practice the virtues of patience, understanding, compassion, and kindness for ourselves and others, and if there was ever a time for us to really practice all this, crazy 2020 has certainly been the year!
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015) and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, The Mighty, Patient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.