Yesterday, at around 1.00 p.m. I got knocked down by a car, and my little girl was with me. I’ve tried to remember how it happened, but I have a blank spot at that moment. I remember visiting my good friend Bobo. I remember us debating about whether we should take the Woodley mathree or go to the main road. I remember us eating Choc-Stick and telling the ice cream vendor how we used to buy Red Devil for 7 bob. He kept asking us which year that was, because apparently, neither of us looks old enough to have bought ice cream in 1987. I remember my baby girl suggesting, for the third time, that we should take the Woodley matatus instead. But we were already on Ngong Road, and we could see a Citi Hoppa, so we figured we might as well take it.
We were standing near Posta, trying to get across, but the road was really busy, so we waited. A motorist stopped and waved at us to pass. We hesitated, but he waved again, so we waved back and crossed one half of the road. When we got to the middle of the road, we saw a white car some distance away, and decided to risk it. I figured he could see us, and he would slow down. Plus, he was fairly far away. I was sure we would make it.
Next thing I knew I was on the ground and searching frantically for my daughter. I’ve heard people talk about a glimpses of inertia, a sensation of flying, and seeing the scenes of their lives flash past. I didn’t have any of that. I didn’t feel the impact. I didn’t even know that I’d been hit. All I was aware of was a white car, a moment of darkness, and an urgent need to find my baby. For all I know, I could have blacked out for an hour or more.
I saw her on the curb screaming, and I looked her over to make sure she wasn’t hurt. There was yelling all around me, but all I knew was I needed to get my baby calm and off the road. I tried speaking to her softly, but she was in hysterics. I managed to get her off the curb, then turned to pick our bags. We had about three of them, and there were arms all over trying to yank them.
My friend was five minutes away, so my plan was to get somewhere quiet and call her for help. But there were people everywhere yelling unintelligibly. I just wanted to get away and be quiet. I noticed a man grabbing my arm and trying to get me into his car, but there was too much commotion, and I never get into cars with people I don’t know. He was yelling that I was hurt and he wanted to help, but I just wanted to be left alone. I had my daughter in one arm, my bags in the other, and all these people crowding me. I don’t do well with crowds.
I tried calmly asking him to let go of my arm, because my baby was getting more and more worked up and I needed to get her somewhere safe, but he wouldn’t listen, so I lost it and started yelling at him to leave me alone. He was squeezing my arm and hurting me, and I told him so, but he wouldn’t listen.
That’s when my baby girl kicked into defense mode. She stopped crying and started screaming at the man. ‘Leave her alone! Leave my mom alone!’ I was just as shocked as the man, and somehow he let go of my arm. I quickly steered my baby onto a grassy patch and we called for help.
There were still people all around. I have no idea where the motorist went, but people were yelling that they had his details and that I should call someone. I just took my baby to a shade near St. Hannahs and we sat down. I had started shaking, and noticed that while my baby looked fine, I had a lot of blood in my eyes. I refused to think about it. I was probably going into shock, because I wanted to scream and scream and scream, but I knew if I started, I’d never stop. So I focused on keeping my baby calm until Bobo came.
The second she arrived, we both crumbled. My baby, who had settled down, started wailing again, and I called several numbers trying to get a ride while explaining what had happened to Bobo. I have feeling that I wasn’t quite coherent. Bobo kept telling me to relax, and in the end she got us a cab and paid for it. She wanted us to go to her place and clean up – she seemed really worried about me. My head was burning but I lied that I was fine. I just wanted to get my baby home where it was safe.
In the taxi, my baby dozed off from exhaustion, and I felt some hysteria creeping in. I’m generally a loner, and I live like I don’t need anyone. But I was shaking, I was scared, my face was bleeding. I didn’t want to be alone. I called him to come help me. He has recently reappeared in my life, and he was the first name that came to mind. But he didn’t answer the call. I texted 15 people including my mum, dad, step-mum, brothers, and three of my dearest friends. Nobody responded. I can only think of one other moment in my life when I felt as abandoned as I did right then.
But I knew I had to keep it together, so I got home, made my baby strip, and checked her for injuries. Apart from a few grazes on her wrists, she was fine. She kept asking me to check my head, which was still bleeding and had soaked two handkerchiefs, but I needed to be sure she was okay before I began to worry about me.
Once I was sure she was settled, I walked over to the mirror for the first time. Christ! Had I been walking around like that?!? I had two cuts above my eye and red stains down one side of my face – I looked terrible! No wonder everyone was staring. I got some warm water and spirit and cleaned out the wounds. They looked much better, though the stubborn cut wouldn’t stop bleeding. I stripped and checked myself in front of the mirror as well. Some grazes on my waist, thigh, and elbow, but not much else. I wanted to get some dressings and pain killers, but my baby was too scared to stay in the house alone, so we walked to a nearby chemist to get checked out. We were given some painkillers and advised to let the wounds dry out unbandaged. We went back home, crawled into bed, and promptly fell asleep.
From the moment of the accident, people kept asking the same questions over and over again. “Where did the driver go? Did he stop? Why didn’t you let him take you to hospital? Did you get his details?” Even after the man had left, people still seemed eager to give me his number plate and description. I wondered why that was so important, since all I cared about was that we were safe.
As I told the story to a few more people, another question arose repeatedly, ‘What time did it happen?’ They couldn’t believe I got knocked over by a car in broad daylight. I suppose the logic behind all the questions was the blame game. I mean, it was a road accident, so somebody had to be at fault. I tried to figure it out myself. At one key level, it was my fault, because it was my decision to cross the road, and in the past, I’d have beaten myself to a pulp over that. But the blank spot in my mind made it difficult to establish exactly what happened.
The witnesses said they’d seen everything, and that the driver wasn’t looking at the road. He was staring over his shoulder when he hit us, which I suppose is why they kept trying to give me his number plate. The only reason I was able to keep it together long enough to get my baby to safety was the little voice in my head. It kept saying ‘It was an accident. Stuff happens. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It just happened.’ The voice said it over and over again with such clarity that it overpowered my emotions. It drowned out my self-blame at getting my baby hurt, my anger at the driver, my panic at the crowds, my resentment at the people trying to steal my stuff. It kept me calm long enough for Bobo to arrive, and after that, it was all her.
That voice came from The Landmark Forum. It came from David yelling over and over that events and actions have no meaning. They’re just things that happen. What gives them meaning is our interpretation. That’s why when I was in my deepest need and nobody responded, I didn’t get upset. It doesn’t mean they don’t love me. They hadn’t abandoned me. They were simply in bed, or in church, or hung over, or in the shower. They weren’t ignoring me. It wasn’t personal.
I got through the crisis and lay down with my baby to rest. About two hours later, the frantic calls and texts arrived, but by then the worst was gone, and I was the one comforting them! My step-mum and step-sister came to check on us, and despite the soreness, my baby was so ‘together’ that she immediately took out some stocks and started selling! [She runs her own business at age nine – I’m so proud!]
There were points in between when I did break down. I did feel lost and isolated, and I did blame myself, so there were moments when I broke down and just cried and cried and cried. I only did it while she was asleep, because I don’t like her to see me like that. I knew she was scared, and I knew this could scar her, but I had no idea how to reach her and heal her and help her. I’d cleaned her outside wounds, but how do you mend a person on the inside?
I can’t help tying the weekend to my experience at Landmark. Last week was really rough for me, and I spent it dragging around like a zombie. On Friday, I had a particularly hard time and couldn’t find any of my support group, so I went online looking for Landmark Resources. Instead I found sites attacking The Forum, and by the time I’d been through five of them, I wanted nothing more to do with Landmark.
But I realize without The Forum, I would never have made it through that accident. I would have bogged myself down with thoughts. What if the car hadn’t stopped on impact? What if it had gone on after throwing us and crushed us under its wheels? What if I had died on the spot – who would have helped my baby? She was sitting on the curb screaming in hysterics. If I hadn’t gotten up and moved her, would she have taken my phone off my body to call for help? Would she have let anyone touch her? Would they have helped her? Would they have known who to call if those creepy hands had run off with my handset and wallet?
But instead of these thoughts crowding my head, I heard, ‘It’s an accident. Accidents happen. Get her home where it’s safe.’ The questions are back now, and they’re haunting me, which is why I’m going back to Landmark. I have a lot more demons that I need to exorcise, and since The Forum got me through one of the scariest moments in my life, I think it’s the only place for me to go.
There are three other things that have shown that The Forum is working for me. When I called my parents last weekend to mend my relationship, I didn’t think I’d made any difference. But a few days ago, my mum sent me a text asking me to get my brother to attend The Forum. She says she’s seen the change in me, and she’d like to see it in him as well. She’s even willing to pay for it. Of course when I told my brother, he burst out laughing.
Secondly, my dad called me from a business trip and for the first time since I was 9 years old, he asked what I’d like him to bring back for me. I felt like his little girl again, and that’s saying a whole lot. The third thing is I was able to take 15 cases of apparent ‘rejection’ without it getting personal. This is me, the girl who jumps into ‘they hate me’ mode every time a phone call goes unanswered.
At the end of The Forum, we were asked to state our new possibilities. I now stand for the possibility of being rich, happy, content, writing tons of novels, and teaching a forum for kids and teens, because I want my baby to take the course right here at home. I don’t want her to struggle through life like I have – not when she doesn’t have to.
I’m starting a Landmark Seminar on the 7th of March, and I’m taking the Advanced Class on the 30th of March. I’m still not sure how I’ll pay for it, but I know I will. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in taking this journey, the next Landmark Forum [beginner’s class] is on September 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th and costs 14,000/=, so you should really think about signing up. It sounds silly on the surface, and my friend Bobo joked that I was so resistant to Landmark that I had to get hit by a car to get the message. But it really is about making life better, for everyone, and as hard as it sometimes is, it’s working for me, and it would be really awesome if it could work for you.
♫ Everything’s Wrong ♫ Crossfade ♫