I watch an HBO documentary, long and emotionally exhausting — one of those films you think, “I shouldn’t be watching this” but you keep on watching it. I begin in the middle. An horrific event has happened: a 36 year old woman named Diane has driven her SUV headlong into another SUV which strikes another SUV, killing 8 persons altogether including Diane and most of the children in the vehicle with her. Lab tests, done twice, show that Diane has consumed at least 10 alcoholic drinks in addition to marijuana. She is on the verge of coma and death. Eyewitnesses say Diane is driving in the fast lane in the wrong direction along a NY turnpike at 70 mph “like a bat out of hell” with no thought of anyone else, completely determined to get wherever it is she is going. Death is her final destination.
A forensic psychiatrist speaks of Diane not being a “bad person.” Instead she is a haunted individual, haunted primarily, it seems, by her inability to ever be out of control. Her family, particularly her husband, is unable to admit that his wife is even capable of being as out of control as she is on this particular day when she kills herself and 7 others, mostly children.
Some of us are unable or unwilling to admit to flaws in our character. We can’t look in the mirror and see that we are human, frail and not actually good at all, in and of ourselves anyway. Our demons remain so private that when they do emerge and we sense that loss of control, we panic. With no option for escape, we find our private demons, in public, are totally overwhelming. Diane must be desperately attempting to drown her demons with painkillers even as she plows headfirst into an oncoming vehicle, her mind trapped in tunnel vision, unable to see any light.