Often, I will read in the news about terrible car accidents in which people die or are seriously injured. At times, these accidents occur even when the driver has done nothing wrong. They are just true accidents. Whenever I hear of these incidents, I can't help but feel immense pain and anguish for the drivers. Certainly, they (and of course, their passengers and their families) have entered a time of "after." Often, just reading about these stories will cause a spike in my anxiety level.
Why do I connect so much with these drivers? I guess you could say that I project my own feelings onto the drivers that I read about. Even though I've never actually been involved in an accident like that, I have at times convinced myself that I have caused such an accident, and I've experienced the guilt of having done so. That's how illogical Hit and Run OCD is. I've felt the guilt for no reason based in reality.
These days, when I hear about these types of sad stories, I realize I need to think differently about them. Rather than letting these events send me into an OCD frenzy, I think I can instead use them to learn a few things.
First, it is impossible to prevent all the incidents that can catapult me into a life of "after." Oh, I can send myself into an obsessive compulsive craze trying to prevent them, but that is useless. I absolutely have to accept that I cannot control everything. Uncertainty is simply a part of living. There is no way around that fact. I may very well cause a terrible car accident someday. Then again, I may not. I desperately hope I do not, but beyond being a careful and attentive driver, there is not much else I can do to prevent something like that from happening. (When I refer to careful and attentive, I mean in a healthy, non-compulsive way.)
Second, I also have to accept that good things happen all the time too. It is just a real struggle for me to focus on good things and I have to work at it constantly. I shouldn't always assume that a horrible thing will happen.
Third, the realization that these types of painful events occur should encourage me to appreciate this moment. I may never again have an "after" type of event in my life. If I spend my whole life obsessing and planning and thinking about something that never happens, it will have been for nothing. Even if an "after" event does happen to me again, I still would have wasted much time in unsuccessfully trying to prevent it. In either case, it's a losing proposition.
I need to focus on this day, right now, instead of on something that may never occur. Really, what other choice do I have?