Transforming Personal Trauma of a Drunk Driving Accident
As I sit here typing this I ask myself “Why am I sharing this?" Why put myself in the line of fire for ridicule, judgement and hatred again? Through writing this story of trauma and healing that I have experienced, it is my aspiration to give others faith that any darkness can be transformed into extraordinary beauty, and that no matter what you’ve been through you can have a life filled with success, peace, health, abundance and joy! My wish is to prevent tragedies like the one I am responsible for from happening again, and so we may all learn to extend a helping hand to those needing support in dark times.
"My darkest experiences have been the biggest blessings in disguise."
Also, through sharing my life experience it gives people real life evidence that miracles can sprout from tragedy. What I learned is that I have a CHOICE in how I allow the experiences to define who I am today, or not! My darkest experiences have been the biggest blessings in disguise- they have given me the gifts to empathize with people so deeply, to care for life delicately, to BE PRESENT, to be resilient, to deeply appreciate the continuous support from my family/friends and to acknowledge the interconnected golden web of magic that connects me to all of life.
Choosing to expose the blessings within this tragedy, took a long time of processing grief, guilt, shame and sadness. When this trauma happened the process of transformation only occurred when I was forced to sit with myself and all the emotions/thoughts that were dark and hurtful. They were like a monster lost and caged deep within my being that was, up until the point of acknowledging them, feeding off of being ignored. It grew bigger until life had a greater plan that forced me to face what was haunting me. Without this journey that I am about to share, the transmutation could not have taken place.
This story is being shared with the highest intention with healing at the forefront. It is because of the reckless decisions I chose that cost a life which you can probably imagine (or may actually know) how much anger, confusion, heartache and chaos was created amongst so many families and an entire community of people.
This story is also being shared for all of those who have been blamed for something and have been shut out, shamed or squashed from telling their story. It never crossed my mind that I would fall into the position of a perpetrator, but life turned the tables when I least expected it.
Making the video below and writing this has resulted in greater healing for me and I hope it brings healing for you too in some way...
In this writing I am doing my best to be compassionate, while being real at the same time. This is me 14 years later opening up to have a real conversation. When I was 16 I felt squashed, I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I was slandered publicly. Now, this is my turn to speak up and tell my story because I didn’t get to do that. Because I was the one at fault no one wanted to believe my story. My story was made up through what the news wanted to piece together and throw up publicly to purposefully make an example out of me… It was humiliating.
"Blame does not heal."
"What heals is compassion, forgiveness, resilience, vulnerability and strength."
At some point I had to let the past be in the past and forgive myself, to let go of self blame, anger and guilt. Through the process of healing I realized that this was also the medicine to help others. I don’t help anyone by blaming myself or hating myself for something. Blame DOES NOT heal. What heals IS compassion, forgiveness, resilience, vulnerability and strength.
In 2007 at the age of 16 I was the drunk driver of a car accident that caused the death of a 16 year old girl. I take full responsibility for this accident and I am at the core of my being deeply remorseful. When writing the words to describe this feeling, my mind goes blank and it becomes a physical experience in my body. There is a burning sensation in my stomach and I am teleported back to that night. I stand there just watching the whole scene unfold in front of my eyes...
The headlights shine brightly through the dark into my eyes from all the cars stuck in traffic from the accident...
The ambulance lights swirling around, the sound of beer bottles dropping out of the car and onto the asphalt, the pain in my chest from the airbag and sheer fear pumping through my veins. My young mind was unable to grasp the magnitude of what had just occurred and that I was responsible for it. I wanted so badly to shake it all away, to wake up from what felt like a nightmare.
Prior to the accident I was a rebellious teenager, I felt really out of place and uncomfortable in my skin with a low self esteem. I didn't know where or how to fit in so I opted to be absent in most of my high school classes and tried to fit in by being a party rebel girl, because somehow that meant I was cool. I started using drugs, drinking alcohol, having sex, shoplifting, ditching school and occasionally sneaking out.
As a result I slipped further into rebelling, seeking sensual pleasure to escape ordinary reality. Eventually I spiraled downhill quickly ending in a CRASH.
The year that followed the accident I was living in chaos with lawyers, private detectives, police, news, lies, truths, tangled stories, in and out of court, I was kicked out of my highschool and I lost many friends. Meanwhile, I was continuing with self destructive behavior and in denial of what I was responsible for…it was a feeding frenzy for the monster inside.
"I was in a serious state of denial that I had killed someone and that I was facing years in prison."
The accident was so huge for me to wrap my head around, I had to go somewhere else. Because it was awful, I had to lose myself, I had to escape to protect myself. It was the only way I knew how to deal with it at that time. I wish I could’ve felt more of my true feelings about the accident and showed my true feelings to others at the time. I was in a serious state of denial that I had killed someone and that I was facing years in prison.
Now, more than a decade later, there's still a part of me that feels like it wants to hide. Writing this is my continuous work in finding words around and facing what I am feeling. I would rather say I can’t find words, because when I do I feel fear again and I am terrified, I just want to wake up. I feel all the guilt and shame come back. And here I am, continuing to heal even after all this time. I wonder if the families involved have or if they’ll ever forgive me…
A little over 1 year after the accident on July 11th 2008 at the age of 18 I was convicted as an adult with 2 felonies. I had a 12 year adult prison sentence hanging over my head. My lawyer worked out a plea bargain with the DA for me to serve a 4 year sentence instead at Y.O.S- the Youth Offender System in Pueblo Colorado- a medium security prison for youth from ages 14-21 years old. I went into that prison as one person and came out as a completely different person. Like how the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and comes out as a butterfly. Magic happened...
While I was incarcerated I was now for the first time in 4 years sober day in and day out, which meant I was finally forced to stop running, to be present and be still. I had to face the trauma, all the many internal demons that I went into that place with, both from the years before the accident and after the accident.
I was blessed to have found yoga before I went into Y.O.S and it was the one thing that I could internally access in prison that seemed to reap some peace within a very unstable, unpredictable and dangerous environment. It allowed me to feel meaning in life when life felt shitty, scary and stagnant. I also learned many other healing and self realization techniques such as Ho’oponopono, sungazing, gratitude practice, meditation, and visualization. Self reflection and journaling were huge for me. I had stacks of journals filled with everything: the secrets, the suffering I never talked about, the mourning, the sadness, the gratitude, the dreams and the wishes. My mother was my ultimate teacher, a true guru of sorts. She taught me about all these practices, coached me on their meanings, technique and showed me how to practice and integrate them.
Since 2008 I have been on a deep journey of healing and self discovery. Somewhere along that journey through the above practices and BEING SOBER I discovered some of the most valuable lessons I have learned to date:
1. The hardest traumas in my life have been the greatest blessing.
2. The importance of paying attention to the dialogues and stories that are either self-encouraging or self deprecating is imperat