2020 WTF: Part 2 - My Holiday WTF Season 20 Years Ago
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
--MY 20TH ANNIVERSARY HOLIDAY TRIGGER DAY: WT-Actual-F, 2020?!
--Want to start at the beginning of this anniversary series? HERE is what I was up to three days before a drunk driver blasted into my world.
Holiday Season, 2000
28 years old
After my car wreck just after midnight on the Winter Solstice, my insurance company was open long enough for me to tell them I'd had an incident.
Then they closed for the holidays.
🎶🎄🎶 Fa-la-la-la-laaaa, la-la-la-fuck.
Thankfully, my chiropractor did some emergency visits with me, including on Christmas Eve and Day. Best and most generous gift ever.
Unthankfully, I had to pay for X-rays out of pocket because 1) the emergency room didn't take any when the tech couldn't figure out the clasp of my necklace and figured, "Eh, you won't need those anyway," 2) a chiropractor took one look at the golfball-sized lump on the back of my neck and said I absolutely did too need them because that could be fractured vertebrae, and 3) it was the friggin' holidays so my insurance company couldn't process an authorization until December 26--six days to wait without knowing the state of my vertebrae.
Additionally, my Primary Care Physician wouldn't be open until...drumroll...December 26.
Wanna know a big secret? That was all LIIIIES, I tell you, LIES--which was worse than if I'd just been told the real date from the outset, because those lies kept shattering my hopes each day I thought help would finally arrive. Turns out I wasn't able to get ahold of my insurance adjustor on the 26th. Or my PCP. Or anybody else for that matter.
I also couldn't get my demolished car out of the vehicle boneyard, so it kept on wracking up day after day of dollars, and I kept getting day after day of nasty-gram phone calls, telling me that I needed to get that hunk of junk off their dirt.
I also couldn't get the cat food and Christmas presents I'd bought out of my crumpled trunk because I had no one to bring me there before the lot closed at noon on the 23rd. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to buy new cat food, because I had never received all the grocery money I would have earned at the dance gigs I had scheduled for December 21-23. I had just bought Christmas presents and a flight to Minnesota, see, so without those gigs, I couldn't pay for essentials and bills.
The car lot guy wound up making a generous, special trip back into town on Christmas Bloody Eve. When my friends were late picking me up--"What's the big deeeeeal, man, chillll..."--he wound up being even pissier with me than he already was, which made dealing with him UN-fun for the next month.
Because it took until January 30 to finally have my car towed away, mostly because the insurance company was backed up from...you guessed it, the holidays.
Sidenote: Can I tell you how much I HATE having to rely on the assistance of impolite people who don't value others' precious time? Trying to be grateful for desperately needed help while getting blamed for rudeness and pissing off a stranger who's doing me an even bigger favor?
NOT COOL. Makes it hard to keep that Attitude of Gratitude foremost in my Christmas Spirit Heart.
I hadn't expected how things would go down when I first spied my car. BLAM! Slammed out of the seat and into my seatbelt as my knees hit the icy dirt of the car lot.
WHIRL! Midnight stars and streetlights with the Uintah Street bridge looming-looming-looming as the repair shop, crumpled vehicles, and electricity wires all swirled in the gray afternoon sky.
KA-BLAM-SCREEEEEEE across the black pavement as my gloved hands hit the dirt, almost onto a frozen puddle. Almost made a puddle of my own puke down there in that car lot. Instead it was only a vomit of tears and sobs I couldn't have stopped to save my life.
The manager softened then. Said he saw that a lot. That made me feel a little better. So did the good, hard bawl.
Incidentally, I lost my favorite ZaZa CD to that car wreck. The car could never be turned on again, not even to get the CD player to come on for two seconds, so there was one of my favorite albums, laid to rest with all those vehicular pieces-parts.
I mourned that CD. Stupid, I know, amidst everything else.
Upon seeing my beloved Mazda for the first time, that song flashed through my head again. “Words of wise men ring in my head…words that will haunt me until the end…Where lies the answer? Who holds the key? What of our soul once it's set free?”
I wound up re-buying the album a few years later, which really pissed me off to have to do.
One of the things that pissed me off way more: asshole-coated assholes driving like jackasses. Tailgaters. Lane-cutter-offers. People racing up to stop signs--EEEEK! Feet up on the dashboard as the big-ass truck blasts into the side of my friend's car. We continue through the intersection. The truck pulls out behind us like a run-of-the-mill, law-abiding vehicle after we're past, but the damage has been done.
Flashback. Panic attack. Jumping so hard I wrenched my back and neck.
My favorite was the December 23 dillhole who needed to get into his parking spot at Black Eyed Pea like he was a Nascar driver. My friend took it extra slow over the speed bumps to not jostle my spine any more than necessary. She was sweet like that and then HONNNNNNK!!!!!!
I would have been on the ceiling, shivering with my claws dug in if I hadn't crumpled in excruciating pain a second later from jumping like that.
Because you just have to?
That's necessary? And it's necessary to keep honking when we don't obey your almighty dictate to move faster? You have no idea why someone is taking their time over speed bumps. Why is your almighty schedule or bad mood so much more important than my injuries?
"Well, how was I supposed to know?"
YEAH. Exactly. You don't fucking know, so don't act like a Holiday Asshole demanding that the entire world should fall into the timeline you demand. Not like he rushed in with a pregnant wife because the only place to have a baby was Black Eyed Pea. No, he bustled in with his nose in the air to have dinner with his equally snooty woman.
Now, having lost access to that particular part of my brain that assesses risks, actions, consequences, appropriate conduct, etc., then administers the appropriate impulse control, I jumped out of the car before it was barely stopped. I didn't give two shits if he decided to put a gun in my face. I pointed at my neck brace and bellowed, "I HAVE A FUCKING NECK INJURY! HOLD YOUR HORSES!"
Didn't get so much as a sheepish look, much less an apology when we all wound up in the lobby together. Needless to say, we requested--in terse, obnoxious voices--a booth as far away from them as possible.
Oh bonus! Yup, I'm reading my journals and letters from these days and finding all sorts of Joy to the World: I didn't wash my hair for four days because it hurt too badly to lift my hands that high. In fact, I didn't bother even brushing it most of those days.
That's how my new boyfriend and I celebrated becoming an official, exclusive couple on Christmas Eve: he helped me wash my hair in the sink. (I don't actually have the memory of that.)
I needed so much help during those first few weeks--emergency help and help with the most simple daily tasks, so with the little bit I could get, everyone had to go so far out of their way, leave their holiday gatherings to bring me to doctors, make special trips, open offices that were supposed to be closed. They did.
Some of them held that over my head like debt invoices. To this day, I still occasionally get reminded about how much people had to go out of their way to help me. Feels incredible, I'm tellin' ya. Makes it hard to feel as grateful as I am about that as well.
But for all the rest, the help I received ranks among the most wondrous gifts I've ever received in my life. Reading page after page of the way people rallied behind me for those first two months...
🎶🥰🎶 So somewhere in my youth or childhood...
🎶🥰🎶 I must have done something good...
That's how these things go. Up, down...wonderful, horrible...kindness, cruelty...enlightenment, rage... It was a constant wave pattern--sometimes a jagged polygraph scrawl. Other times, those polar extremes existed simultaneously in the same breath. That's how I became Persephone's Grrrl, by living in such extreme dichotomies for so long. 🌸☠️🌸
But that's how Life is.
Know how my parents spent their Christmas Day 20 years ago?
Separated from their child when she was supposed to be there. Thanking God that she was still alive. Worried sick and unable to sleep because, after talking to me for a few minutes on Christmas Eve, they realized that someone else was inhabiting their daughter's body and speaking with (sorta) their daughter's voice. Two days later, they would bomb across the country at 3 a.m. in an unexpected trip to Colorado through a blizzard because my mom just KNEW something was drastically wrong with me.
I was too messed up to have a clue.
When they arrived to help me, we couldn't get any word on what I was supposed to do as the Victim in the criminal case until sometime after the New Year. What we would eventually learn was that, "There was no Victim in that case. No one had been injured."
*doing a body check...yup, still injured*
(And yes, when we're talking about court cases, I have ZERO problem identifying with the label "Victim." That's the official, legal term for someone who has had a crime committed against them, not some sort of "oh, woe is me" whiner who just "needs to get over it and gain some agency.")
(Fucking hate that buzz-word.)
Wanna know who DID harangue me throughout that Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
The drunk woman's insurance company.
Ohhhhh, how they wanted to talk to me while I was concussed and in agony and desperate for money and clueless how I was going to pay for anything or what my own insurance company would authorize and pay for. They absolutely wanted to talk to me and hammer things down A-FUCKIN'-SAP. They even tried to hunt me down at my workplace.
Alas. I couldn't interview any attorneys to intervene on my behalf. Know why?
🎶🎄🎶 Jinga-linga-ling...lick my dinga-ling
🎶🎄🎶 Jinga-linga-ling...suck my Lingam-ling**
🎶🎄🎶 Ding. ✨ Bing. ✨✨ Jinga-ling.
**(Lingam being the reverent Sanskrit word for my BIG, JUICY COCK. Means, "Wand of Light.")
Oooh! Another gem from December 27: Penrose Hospital couldn't be bothered to take neck X-rays, listen to my bodily complaints, consider the word "concussion" after hearing the description of my wreck, or inform the police that there was a Victim in that vehicular assault, but you know what they did instead? They gave my phone number, without permission, to the UCCS Psych Department to see if I wanted to participate in some sort of study.
Oh, was I mad! Here I could barely get ahold of anyone to help me, yet I received unsolicited and unauthorized phone calls from an entity that was on Winter Break. I told them no.
Prolly shoulda said yes.
We might have found out that I had permanent Dain Bramage and PTSD earlier than we did.
The best thing that happened on the 27th (hahahahaha...or so I thought), was that I decided which attorney to hire for the civil suit and to keep USAA off my back.
Tell ya what, I would quickly come to covet USAA after dealing with my own company, Safeco. Since I was never military, I couldn't switch to them any more than I was able to switch attorneys once mine started screwing me over.
But all that stuff is a ways down the road. We're only up to Day 7 in this post, and today we're only covering how weathering a trauma over the holidays threw gasoline onto the trash fire that had become my life.
DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 2
On the 28th, my boyfriend drove me back to the car lot so I could photograph my vehicle and its pieces-parts on the ground for the court case.
Me - seeing my car for the second time.
Not quite as dramatic as the first.
Still an eviscerating, flashback-inducing shock.
🎶Joooooy to the Worrrrrld...🎶
He also took me by the office so I could pick up my check for the final three days I had worked, which allowed me to pay my rent for January.
🎶🎄🎶 It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift
🎶🎄🎶 With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah...
The remainder of my journaling for that time period revolves around my ever deteriorating bodily maladies, mindset, financial outlook, and the continued frustration that everybody had lied about December 26. They'd even lied about December 28. None of them were going to be available until after flippin' New Years.
I was so messed up and exhausted I wrote three-sentence letters and called it good.
The ultimate Hallelujah of the season came on January 3. (Yeah, I know. That's technically after the season. Whatever.) O Holy Night, I finally got ahold of my insurance adjustor, and she answered some of my burning, panic-stricken questions.
Of course, she also advised me that, in order to get paid my full lost wages, I would need to produce signed, notarized affidavits from every one of my students and dance employers to prove half my monthly income. Until that time, I would receive only the equivalent of my part-time office work paycheck.
Oh. Minus the 2 weeks they averaged out from when I was sick in October. How convenient for them. Now, you might think, "Pssssh, losing 2 weeks? That's not much."
Except when you've only been working there for 2 months. Yup. They averaged out a quarter of my income.
It was the same with the criminal case. I'd finally learned that I "had no injuries" according to the El Paso County DA's office. To add insult to those invisible injuries, on January 6, yet another drunk driving incident was reported on the news. They listed the charges for injuring two men as "Vehicular Assault"--a felony, unlike the misdemeanor charge pending for the woman who had hit me. My wreck certainly hadn't warranted a news crew. It would take multiple signed statements of outrage from my friends and family to alert the DA's office that I even existed.
My name and contact information weren't even in the file.
This would become the theme of my life: having to prove everything in black-and-white triplicate, backed up by a gazillion witnesses who needed to go out of their way to notarize their complaints on my behalf. Either that, or I would just have to bend over and grab my ankles.
Talk about making the Victim defend themselves and pay for the crime.
I'm still paying for that woman's refusal to get a taxi because she thought she was "good enough" to drive and she "didn't have very far to go." I hear those excuses all the time when people try to justify their decision to drive impaired, especially when they've never hurt anybody.
December 23, 2020
48 years old
So, no shit, here I sit, pounding out words on my keyboard at Mach 10.
I should have just had my neck put back into place. It should be humming happily. So should I. Instead, I have a numb right hand and neck pain that is going to have to go unaddressed until the holidays are over.
Because it's the 20th anniversary of 👆All That.👆
I really thought I was going to be okay this year. Some years, the anniversary blips by and I barely notice. Other years are more difficult. Still others pass without incident, and then it sneak-attacks me 3 or 13 days later.
This time I got hijacked on December 18 with the mandate, "You WILL puke out an anniversary blog series every day from now until the Solstice," and I did. I was a good little writer-bitch, obeying The Muse's dictates and skidding into home base at 12:21 a.m. on 12/21 - exactly two decades from when I would have been shivering on the side of the road, awaiting the ambulance.
Cool. I was basically useless on Solstice, but no problem. Not unexpected. My weekend and birthday day off was just delayed. On the 22nd, I had a super intense EMDR session that wiped me out so badly I couldn't drive to my chiro appointment. No biggie. I still had one more day before they closed.
As each hour drew nearer to my appointment, the niggling increased: that sketchy, twitchy, uncomfy feeling at the back of my neck and in the pit of my guts. I knew what it was. I've had enough anniversary reactions that I recognized it.
I launched into the self-chat. The petting. The purring and "Woojie-woojie-woobie-woo, yes, you're such a good girrrrrrl...yessssss..." I took another nap. I got some coffee so I'd be more alert.
I flipped a coin. It said I should go. "See? Even the Universe agrees you'll be totally fine."
"Fuck the Universe, man! The Universe has a dark sense of humor. It does things like crash drunk drivers into me when I ask to understand the meaning of life. What if it's still not done toying with me? My spine and neck are really starting to make headway. You can even see it on the X-rays from this new-fangled neuro-chiropractic. I don't wanna get knocked even farther back past Zero all over again for the third time. I REALLY have a bad feeling about this."
"Flip another coin then, Threepio. Sheesh!"
"HAH! Told you, Doubty McDoubtersdottir."
"Okay, fine. That's a one-for-one tie. Third time will tell us what we're supposed to do."
I threw the coin in the drink holder. Drummed my gloved hands on the steering wheel. I called my chiropractor's office to tell them what was going on because I was going to be late, and to see if they'd be open next week.
Of course not. It's fuckin' holidays.
So there I sat, trying to force myself to say that I'll come in. I actually said the words in the hopes of making them true. Then I had to take them right back. I was shuddering head-to-toe by that point. WTF! Martial arts was supposed to take care of this. It was supposed to help me control the adrenaline and being hijacked by the terrified-animal-brain. Meditation was supposed to end this. Breathing exercises and bullshit-bullshit-bullshit!
I yanked the key from the ignition. I slammed a different key into the lock on my front door. I tore down some stuff that had been pissing me off for months. I fed my body a big ole salad because that's what it was craving. I also fed it some more of my birthday cake. I then flopped down at my computer to pound out these words instead of getting my spine repaired.
And yes. I do feel better. Hufffff.
Except my neck. That's still raising big middle-finger foamies.
Somedays, no matter how many badass coping and recovery skills you have, no matter how many decades you've been honing them, no matter how many times you've triumphed, some mountains are simply too huge to climb right now. Major trauma anniversaries rank among the most high-elevation, particularly when any of the traumatic circumstances repeat themselves.
Sometimes you lose the battle.
Today is one of those times.
At that point, all you can do is be good to yourself. Being good to other people also helps, if you've got it in you. Like I'm about to make my parents' favorite cookies because my mom isn't up for fussing with them this year. I am, so it makes me particularly happy to do this, since twenty years ago I wasn't even up for brushing my own hair.
'TIS THE SEASON!
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE:
--UP NEXT: Now that I got that off my chest, I do have some wonderful holiday cheer to share - HOME ALONE ON CHRISTMAS - But Not Really.
--OR if you're Grinching and would rather learn what this amazing neuro-chiropractic miracle is, I started writing about it HERE.