Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sneaker Waves

One time, I got hit by a car.

It was over a decade ago now, so it's nothing for you to worry about. It was really pretty minor actually, albeit somewhat traumatic for me. I had just stepped off the bus and was on my cell phone with a friend, walking home after class. It was evening and chilly and wet in the early Northwest springtime. I came to a four way stop and, since I had the right of way, proceeded to cross at the crosswalk. A Bronco came directly across from me and maybe tapped his breaks, but rolled right through. I put my hands out in front of me, instinctively. The phone flew out of my hand and a slid back on the pavement on my stomach. The grand total of my physical injuries amounted to a sprained ankle, but then there's the part you can't see.

I didn't have (or really need) a car at that time. I walked everywhere I went. I didn't mind the adventure of public transportation, but after that accident I had a problem. Every time I heard an engine rev the way that Bronco's engine revved just before he drove into me I panicked. I'd be walking roadside to get to work and big trucks would roar past and I would feel my hands shake for a minute or two. An SUV across the parking lot would be accelerating to the ridiculous pace of 2 miles per hour and I would run for my life to the nearest curb. The response was not a logical one and the humor in it was too much for my friends and family. They couldn't understand it. I couldn't really be mad, because I couldn't understand it either. All I knew is that's how I felt.

That last post I wrote was a total downer. If you're here, you are familiar with the days that make you feel that way. I've been meaning to write a follow up post to it for some time now so you know that I don't feel that way indefinitely every day. It's a combination of school, a school newspaper I started and the fact that I am really in a new phase of my life at this point that has made this post so slow in coming, but I just wanted to take a moment today to talk about the moments like the one that caused me to write that last post.

It's probably only about every three months now, but there will sometimes be a night where I somehow work myself into a spin about my marriage. Instead of the sleep I so desperately need I find self remembering, reinterpreting, reliving the moments that once made up my life. I told Sassy McLadyBoots about this one morning when she picked me up and I was in a total grief hangover. She didn't understand. That time seemed so long ago to her that the idea that I could still be reeling in it from time to time just could not compute. I called my sister in law who has been in these shoes and she explained. When we've been through trauma our brain has to sort out the things that don't make sense. It takes time. It will get better. In the mean time, don't let the sneaker waves get you down.

That last post found its genesis in a link on Facebook. A good friend of mine had posted an adorable link of Dorris Day singing it and that was it. I was instantly lying on that sterile hospital bed, paralyzed with fear while simultaneously overwhelmingly aware that I had to get out of there. That memory is a strong one and it took me a little by surprise. I spent that night writing a post about it to process how I felt, and then I let it go.

In our recovery process we will all have moments like that one. They are usually unexpected and can be triggered by the things that seem the most insignificant to those around us. Others may not understand. They may think we are being too self pitying or living in the past, but after I was hit by that car, when I heard an engine rev I jumped before I thought about jumping. We have emotional responses to the trauma we've lived through. We don't have to be victimized by them. We don't have to dwell in them longer than the time it takes to fully process them, but we will experience them from time to time, and that's ok.

Life on the island is so beautifully balanced. It's incredible to me the difference in my soul from almost exactly two years ago. I still feel sorrow, yes, but today I know what to do with it. I know that it's not a permanent part of my identity, and I know that it will pass. I know that feeling it is normal and that I am entitled to choose my own way through. I know that I am strong, that I will make it, and that with God I can do hard things. When the pain comes, just remember--even if no one else seems to understand the why, even if you feel like it will never stop being there, even if, in that moment, you feel like it can't possibly get better--it does get better. You've just got to keep your face turned to God and your feet on the path of faith.

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