This I Believe

Charles - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believed I was invincible. I was untouchable, nothing could hurt me. As a college student, I have been making bad decisions for the past 4 years. Drinking ridiculous amounts of alcohol, driving home from the bar, and all around poor decision making skills on my behalf. For three and a half years I woke up each morning unscathed, albeit with a bit of a hangover. The winds suddenly changed one night during the summer of my senior year. On a night full of good decisions, one bay decision would change my life forever.

Tires squeal, brakes screech, and my passenger screams. Silence. I wake up in the dirt, without the ability to walk, or move one side of my body. The physical pain was bad, but not the worst pain of the night. Nothing compares to listening to your passenger, who was still stuck in the car, screaming for help, and not being able to do anything to help her. Utter helplessness. That will stay with me for far longer than the handful of broken bones that I suffered. So what, you ask, was my mistake? Believing that others would act more responsibly then I ever have.

Driving home on a Monday night, sober, I was hit at 50mph by a belligerently drunk 17 year old high school student. This resulted in my inability to walk for two weeks, multiple broken bones, and a constant female scream.

This one event changed how I live instantly. Seat belt, check. Never driving after drinking, check. Constant pain, check.

I believe our lives are shaped by the events that we encounter. For some it’s reaching a certain age, for others it’s the birth of a child, for me, I needed to be put inches from death, by something that I could not change or stop. I was at the total mercy of a complete stranger.

Perhaps it was just what I needed; a wake-up call to the harshness of reality. The realization that my actions and those of others can leave a lasting effect on myself and those around me.

Those moments of pure terror, crawling out of a totaled car caused me to really grow up and rethink my actions.