This is a personal post and a very obvious deviation from my normal topics of decor and DIY. I felt it was important to convey my very raw thoughts and feelings- behind every pretty picture and styled home is a real, living person. I mostly separate my personal life from the blog because I feel that you all are here because of the topics I write about – not my personal life. Perhaps I am wrong and maybe you are interested in the more personal side. Either way, I’m coming at you with a pretty heavy heart today to let you know why I’ve been MIA. I was in a head on collision on July 14th at 5:30pm after leaving work for the day. Not just any day – a very special day at work where I was the delivery nurse for my co-worker and dear friend. A drunk driver turned in front of me – trying to go to the liquor store that we crashed in front of. He had a blood alcohol of 0.29. My car was a total loss due to the significant damage and I’ve been told by many (detective, car insurance , doctors) that I am lucky to be alive. Here’s a glimpse into my life:
Ive thought a lot about that word over the last few weeks – what it means, what it looks like, and the grip it has over me. Is trauma broken bones and limbs in casts? Is it black eyes and bruises? Is it witnessing or experiencing a horrific event? The answer is yes to all of the above however only two of those are recognizable from out the outside. When your insides feel more broken and bruised than your outsides it’s such a strange space to be in. A reminder in not judging others by how they look – trauma doesn’t discriminate. I hurt in muscles I didn’t even know existed – more poor body feels like a stone – rigid and hard. Each breathe is painful and sore – my bodies way of saying ‘not yet – you’re not healed yet’. The bruises to my thigh and burns across my neck are a reminder of the force of the seatbelt against my lap and chest. The gashes on my leg ooze and burn. My face – red and swollen from the impact of the airbag. This is my physical trauma. The internal trauma is so much more powerful and deep than any bruise or burn. The bruises will fade and eventually disappear. The burn will shrink and perhaps leave a scar in its place. The abrasions will heal – leaving nothing but a trace behind. But in my core – my soul – I am bruised. I am burned. I am scarred.
I guess you could call me lucky for having lived 34 years of my life without experiencing whatever this mess is. Sure I’ve had difficult times – I’ve questioned my life choices – I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression – I’ve been broke beyond words – but nothing could have ever prepared me for the overwhelming emotions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My brain goes the darkest of places – I replay the moments leading up to the accident over and over and over and over on an endless reel. The blue truck coming out of nowhere – in my lane – unaware of my existence. If feels like those few seconds are all my brain knows and its holding onto the memory with an iron grip. The moments leading up to the impact felt like the slowest and fastest seconds of my life – slow enough for me to fully realize what was about to happen and quick enough for it to be over in a flash.
I was going to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
But here I am – alive – writing out my very thoughts.
Feeling the pain.
Feeling the anger.
“Why can’t you just be grateful” I hear in my own head. “You’re alive – just move on”. If only life were that simple. This is my new reality – one where I’m alive to feel the wind against my face – to feel the embrace of my loved ones – to feel the deep sorrow and anger that has shaken me to my core. I’m so acutely aware that many have lost loved ones this very way – victims of drunk driving – who long to have their daughter or son alive to be feeling these things and for that I’m deeply guilty for the profound anger and sadness I feel. I’m grieving for all the victims of drunk driving – no one should have to suffer for another’s senseless act.
People often ask me if I’m “okay”. It’s more comfortable for people to hear the words ‘yes’ than me blabbering on about the incessant thoughts I have. But that answer is no – no I’m not okay. It’s not okay to picture yourself in a coffin – to wonder what your family would have buried you in – to wonder where they would have buried you. It’s not okay to go through your life picturing yourself not in it. It’s not okay. I am angry – deep seeded and in my core – angry. I don’t want to think about how my family would be handling life right now without me – 3 weeks later. I don’t want to relive the accident in my head. Ever. I want it to never have happened. I want that man to have valued my life (and his own) enough to have never entered that car. I don’t want to accept that we have no control over our lives – that people who make terrible choices can take away our happiness – our safety. I don’t want my family to suffer because I’m struggling. I want to live without fear – without the anger – I want to breathe pain-free. I’M NOT OKAY.
The truth is – I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same – and that is a terrifying reality.
As much as I don’t want to give anyone the power to do so he took something from me that day. He took my sense of security – my joy – my inner peace. I am fighting to get it back – but I am not alone. I have a tribe of people supporting me and cheering me on – people who so desperately want me to succeed – to overcome. Amongst the fear and anger is a sense of being loved – the people in my life (family, co-workers, new friends and old) have enveloped with me kindness, love, and space to show up how I am – as raw and as uncomfortable as it is. I’ve felt more love in these 3 weeks than perhaps my entire life and I’m forever grateful for that. Those closest to me have suffered the most no doubt – it’s difficult to see someone you love in pain. We want to ‘fix it’ – to make it better – because the alternative is too difficult to bare.
Nothing can prepare your relationship for this kind of strain – disruption if you will. My husband has essentially temporarily lost his wife. My children have lost their mother. I am a fraction of who I was – who I am – who I’m meant to be. They have been patient and kind and my husband has been my rock – strong and unwavering.
It’s a strange thing picturing a life without yourself in it – the days would have continued to be just as beautiful, my house would still stand with piles of laundry needing to be done, and the pictures on my camera of my friends beautiful birth would remain unedited and raw. And yet I am here – I feel the sun on my face and the warm breeze move through my hair. The laundry remains for me to wash and fold – a mundane task that leaves me tear filled as I encounter pieces of clothing I was wearing that day. The pictures on my camera both remind me of the joy and the horror that was yet to come. A small triumph came from editing those pictures despite the fear – I owed my friend those moments and she deserved them.
I’m not entirely sure what recovery looks like in this moment. The physical therapist says my recovery is “very slow” at this point and the psychiatrist offers no timeline for healing. Perhaps that’s best. I hope someday to be free of the thoughts – the fears – the anger – the pain. I’ve thought a lot about recovery and what it means – when do I know I’m recovered? How long will it take? What does it look like? Questions with answers I don’t have – but I do know I’ve made progress. I’ve managed to sit in the drivers seat of a car despite my fear -get out bed every day when the thoughts are incessant -eat when I don’t feel hunger – and I’m proud of that. I know I have a long way to go.
Thank you for letting me share this with you – as raw and uncomfortable as it is.
Patience and Grace.