Private Demons

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.


3 thoughts on “Private Demons

  1. Jen says:

    And a lot of people, sadly, simply aren’t allowed to deal with personal demons. They’re so wrapped up in keeping up a facade for others that ignore themselves. It sounds like this could be the case here or that her husband really didn’t know her much at all.

    • lambskinny says:

      Hey Jen!
      Diane, I gather from the documentary, was a very good mother, but most definitely a control freak. For example, her children never arrived at playschool or school or any event with a hair out of place. She also seemed to have broken off several close relationships without much cause or explanation early in her marriage — I think — and she did use marijuana to “relax for sleep” at night. She drank only occasionally, supposedly. She also, per the HBO film, was seeing a dentist for an abscessed tooth, so she may have been in some physical pain. I believe at least 4 children were in the SUV with her at the time. The older one even called for help, to no avail. Hard to imagine what she was really doing or thinking driving the wrong direction on a turnpike, especially at such a speed. She drove only a mile before striking the other vehicle.

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