That is a heavy word. When I was young, it was usually used as a demand for information, “Who is responsible for this broken lamp?” Later, I learned that every job has a list of responsibilities—things that you are expected to handle, no matter what. Even later, I took on the responsibility of parenthood. If you’re not careful, all that responsibility adds up to a lot of self-doubt, self-recrimination and second guessing.

On Friday, I was in a car accident. My vehicle was hit from behind—I was traveling 55-60 miles per hour. My car suffered a pierced bumper and a jacked-up trunk lid. His car folded like an accordion. So, I’m guessing he didn’t see me, and was traveling at least 70. Yet, because I was “slowing to pull into the exit lane,” I was found at fault for the accident! Apparently witnesses at the scene said something to give the police officer the impression that I was too-slow in the right lane.

I’ve been struggling with both emotional and physical pains.  My neck is whiplashed and my back is sore. X-rays revealed that I have a fracture in my spine.

I also feel ganged up on. Falsely accused. Injured.

Reminds me a little of the ache people feel when they lose their jobs. Ganged up on. Falsely judged. Injured.

Then, I remembered my Landmark Forum work. To be responsible is to be Response-Able. I can’t choose to change the past or to hurry my healing. Only time and treatment will take care of that. But, I can choose how to deal with this blow.

Perhaps you can find some solace in these steps, if you have suffered an injustice or injury—whether it’s a robbery, an accident, a job loss, a betrayal or even an assault.

Choose your attitude. You ARE 100% responsible for your own life. Stuff happens, but you get to choose how you deal with it. My goal is to cooperate with all parties, tell the truth as I know it, and be at peace with what happens.

Take care of Number 1. As sympathetic as your friends or spouse might be, NO ONE can send a grown adult to take a nap. Only you. You get to choose what commitments to keep, what phone calls to return, how to handle finding stand-ins, etc. Only you can decide when to take the pills, draw a warm bath, or go to bed. Take care of yourself as if you were your best friend.

Work with the pros. After the shock wears off, you might feel a little stunned and uncertain what to do next. It’s important to reach out to the professionals who are emotionally un-involved in your case. Look to them for empathy, wisdom and good advice.

Accept your part in what happened.  Being honest, I do know that I wasn’t feeling great when I got in that car. I was having a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day. Even though I don’t believe my driving skills were impaired, perhaps they were. I accept that, yes, I am responsible for my own actions.

Forgive and move on. This is a toughie. I felt betrayed because two of the witnesses were so kind to me, then testified against me. What I see now is that people see and interpret everything from their own perspective. What they say in the heat of the moment can be misinterpreted, misconstrued and messed-up. What they intend and what actually happens don’t always match up.

Most important, forgive yourself. Regardless of your role, you deserve the best treatment after the event. You deserve empathy, care and help.

I’m still here, seeing clients, between naps and ice packs.

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