Forgiveness

 

I have spent a fair bit of time in the last week thinking about what forgiveness means to me and how much better my life has been since I decided a few years back to start forgiving folks for my own good. I wasn’t particularly concerned with how it made them feel, and in most cases, they aren’t even aware that they were forgiven for their trespasses against me.

I wrote a few months back about a horrific accident that occurred here in the country that I call home and my own survivor’s perspective of the aftermath of these sort of events. I was focused mostly on the hope that all the support the boys and their families had following the accident, would continue through the years to come.

This past week it was announced that the driver of the semi that struck the bus has been charged with 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. The general consensus seems to be that he blew through a stop sign. He will have his day in court, or many, and based on the comments I have read (don’t ever read the comments section!) he will likely be far safer in jail or prison than he will ever be out on the streets again, unless he changes his appearance drastically. That saddened me. Really saddened me and brought up feelings I have long held onto related to my own “accident”.

Prison will not be the worst punishment he endures- not even close.

While I was never charged with anything following mine, my passenger in the car with me died that afternoon. She was very young- only 20. So, I am in the unique position of actually somewhat understanding what is going through that man’s head right now- and none of it is good. The only reason I didn’t receive criminal charges was because it was a known trouble spot of an intersection, and following my crash, the transportation safety board removed that particular vehicle crossing and made a new entrance. Here, it takes so many accidents/deaths by number, before they will make changes like that.

I was sued twice following – once by the step-father of my passenger, and once by the train conductor- each request was for a million dollars. I had been warned it would likely happen, as in the case of family members who lose a loved one, it is pretty standard practice. In my relative naivety, until the insurance company contacted me, I thought I was personally responsible for paying those millions, as I received my copy of the first letter prior to the insurance company receiving theirs.

I was still recuperating physically and hadn’t even begun the work on my psychological wounds when I received the letter from the step-father. I was in a pretty dark place and only dealing with those things that were absolutely necessary, like finding someone to drive to grocery store with my bank card to buy food for my kids, and doing my best to wake up alive every morning.

Every night/morning for over a year, I would jerk awake sometime between 1 and 3 hearing the horns and the screams and tasting the blood and smelling the gasoline, and feeling the weight of April’s body slamming into mine as that train hit us. Every single sense I had, wide awake and stabbing at me like unforgiving needles.

Not one inch of my body or mind was spared on those nights.

I would lay there and look up at the ceiling after the terrors and wonder if this was why I had been spared death, and not her. I wondered about suffering and retribution and about heaven and hell and how we all pay the piper in our own ways and in our own time.

I would try to understand the why’s.

Why her? Because she was pure and full of light and love and her journey here was over. She had done everything she was sent here to do. She had taught and learned the lessons and fulfilled her contracts with others.

Why not me? Because I deserved to suffer and be in pain. I had run and dodged and slipped my way through every dangerous event and place I had allowed myself to be a part of. Now I had taken a life. I had murdered a young girl with my stupidity and inattention to my surroundings. Only the good died young, as my mother used to say, so I was pretty damn sure I was left here with the purpose to feel this pain for the rest of my days. 

I worked with a psychologist who specialized in PTSD, and slowly started to heal. She utilized EMDR therapy on me, which was exhausting emotionally, but was extremely successful with my psychological trauma. It was the first and only time in my life that I went in search of help of that kind, having been brought up in a home where we kept our private problems in-house, and not to be shared with outsiders. During my time with Robin, other things came out that I had long forgotten, so it turned into much, much more than it had originally been meant to be. I saw her until my extended health benefits dried up. She had provided me with the tools I needed to take my first steps onto the path of actually living again.

Not surviving, not healing, not enduring- actually wanting to move forward and live again, for my sons and even for myself.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for her help in showing me the way through it all to the other side. At the end of our last session, she gave me a big hug and told me I needed to truly forgive myself or I would never recover fully.

5 years after my accident, I received a letter from a psychologist that was treating the mother of my passenger. He asked me if I would allow him to send me numbered questions from his patient, who was struggling to move forward with her own life following the loss of her daughter. He was working with her on forgiveness. On forgiving herself for past events during the time she was raising her daughter, and on forgiving me, in order to let go of the hate she held in her heart.

I sat on a chair in my kitchen for over an hour, holding that letter in my hand.

I traced my fingertip over and over the stamp edging, round and round, while my mind wandered to how I was going to deal with this request. In the days following, I asked my son, and my mother for their advice on what they thought I should do.

They both told me to not respond at all; their concern was for me and the progress I had made, and they worried that I would slide back if I had to relive any of it again.

What neither of them knew, was that I had never stopped living it. Not for one moment of the time since it had occurred. It was so entrenched in every part of me, it was now cellular.

Like the blood flowing through my heart, or the oxygen moving through my lungs.

I wore it like a branding on my soul and always would.

I ended up answering her questions and sent them back to the psychologist. I was more concerned with her healing than I was with my own. Some of them were very difficult to answer.

I lied on the ones that I thought would only hurt her more. Questions about her relationship with her stepfather. Questions about why she left home. Questions about if she had ever shared information with me about her mother’s decision to side with her stepfather, rather than with her. I lied about her forgiving her mother for that. I lied and said she told me only a day earlier that she loved and missed her mother very much.

I answered truthfully on the questions that related to the accident itself.

She was dead instantly- she didn’t linger or suffer- she didn’t cry out in pain.

In the moments leading up to the impact, she was laughing and singing and excited and full of life and love.

I licked the envelope when I was done answering her questions, and walked the letter to the nearest mailbox.

I remember sitting on a rock after and looking at the clouds in the sky, through teary eyes, watching them slowly move and morph in shape as they drifted lazily above me. The sun was in the exact position it was in on that day in June, casting the same warmth, blinding me with the same dazzling rays, but this time I was alone.

While I was sitting there, a white butterfly caught my eye, and I watched as it fluttered and danced and flew closer and closer to me. From blade of grass to tree branch, to post, eventually landing on the top of my hand.

Its wings were transparent in the sunlight and I slowed my breathing and sat perfectly still, watching it settle in on my hand, twitching its wings softly on my skin. Seeing the flesh of my hand through its wings- watching in wonder as it sat there on my warm hand.

It stayed with me for as long as I needed it to and then flew away up towards the clouds in the blue sky.

I watched it until it disappeared from my sight and then got up and headed home to my children.

 

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Heeling(Healing) Soles(Souls)

I have been feeling a little vulnerable lately and not even well enough to tap away at the keys.

Today I decided it might be good to wander about on Word Press for a bit and the first place I always wander is to Calen’s.

Her Sandbox Challenge this week was this:

What message just for you is hidden in this ancient writing?

maya writing.1

My first thought upon looking at the image was how remarkably similar it was to my heels. Then the thought popped up that I have been meaning to book a pedicure for the last month or so but that real life has intruded on even that one hour of peace and comfort I could have provided for myself. I really could have booked that appointment- had the number on my cell and would be basically two taps with my finger directly to the shop.

But I have been so tired. SOOO incredibly tired and low energy. Useless.

I have completed the tasks that need doing, like working and taking care of my cat, but other than that, I have basically sleepwalked through the last few weeks.

I know what started it.

It was seeing the news that humans have now sunk to the low of caging children.

I like to think I am pretty cynical and jaded, and I truly told myself that there was no possible way he would be allowed to sink this low, without someone…ANYONE…stopping him and his need to feed his fractured ego with evil-doing.

But, as has happened many times in the past- I was wrong.

I read, I watched, I listened to audio and then I shut down. I just could not take anymore.

And my feet and the rest of me suffered for it and continue to suffer.

I have some sort of strange rash appearing on my back, which I think is atopic eczema. The irony of this affliction is that the worst thing for the little dry patches is water.

Dry, itchy, aggravating. Especially when I cant reach it except with the spaghetti scoop which comes to bed with me every night.

My feet and my back and my soul all make me feel dry and itchy and aggravated and out of sorts.

Barren and empty, like desert flowers begging for any sort of nourishment to make the cracks disappear and replenish the cells with the fluid of life.

I need to know that I am not the only one feeling the cracks and caverns and schisms occurring right now in the world.

Am I the only one who sees fire and burning and hears children crying for their parents?

I don’t take good care of myself when I don’t feel well emotionally.

I really let myself go.

I am not sure why that is.

Is it the effort and energy required from an exhausted woman or is it disinterest or the knowledge that one day this husk that carries the me that matters will not longer require tending?

What any logical woman would do would be to book that appointment for the next few days and even add a manicure to the appointment, as there is no better feeling than having both sets of nails done and pretty.

But it seems so pointless to me right now.

I instinctively know that my looks are not going to matter in the next while for the work that may need to be done and what my part in it may be.

I’ve let my hair grow long and rarely wear it down unless I am brushing it, which I do often. Brushing my hair soothes me and my spirit, for some reason. My hair is drying out too, and I have stopped colouring it. It is pure white like my mother’s in the front- beautiful white. I frequently braid it, to keep it off my face and out of my way. Then I unbraid it, while reading tweets about monsters and the people who lie and abet them with their evil.

I don’t speak of the terrors I feel often, as I can tell people are sick and tired of all things political and don’t want to hear it. Those people would rather sit back and then moan and wring their hands once it is all over. I know those people. There were so many of them during the Holocaust.

So, so many.

My hypervigilance is a symptom of my PTSD. I know that. But I also know I am not crazy and I can feel the danger.

I can even taste it some days. It tastes like metal or copper. A bit like blood, in fact.

I am doing what I can in order to soothe the trauma-beast within me in whatever way I can to keep it from becoming more hungry.

I might drive out to the mountains this weekend and spend a day sitting on a log thinking of nothing but the scent of the air around me.

It is supposed to rain.

I can tilt my head back and open my mouth and let it in.

I can wiggle my feet while the rain falls over them.

Maybe it will fill up the cracks and heal them.

Maybe I will breathe deeply again.

Maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Feast of Friends

“I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car –a really nice car– and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.” Anthony Bourdain

 

Today is always a hard day for me. A day to be endured and survived.

Lived through.

When I awoke and saw the horrible news that Anthony Bourdain had taken his life, and on this particular date, I was slammed by so many feelings at once.

I know many are mocked when they grieve a public person in a personal way, but the ignorance in that sentiment is that these people have been in our homes. Sometimes daily.

We spend time with them when we can’t face the thought of being with our own people and trying to explain why we hurt. We hope they take our minds off our own shit and we feel not so alone in the world when they are with us.

Sometimes it is just their voice on the television, during our self-imposed disconnection to space and time – on our couches or in our beds, that keeps us tethered by a delicate strand to the rest of the world.

June 8 2002 is the day I had a horrific accident in my car with a freight train.

My passenger, a beautiful young girl, died on top of me in the car. (Official version to keep questions to a minimum.)

In reality, her head was severed from her body and was in my lap.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following that accident, and had no control over the thoughts that appeared in my head forever after that.

Over the years, I have gathered many tools in my toolbox, and am pretty happy with my ability to quickly pull them out as needed. It is exhausting, but I always quickly remind myself that the alternative to surviving and being left in this state is not and has never been an option for me.

I am fortunate in that I have not ever suffered with depression as so many others do. My thing is crippling anxiety and panic attacks, and as long as I can get myself to my safe place internally, all is good.

Following my discharge from the hospital all those years ago, I spent many, many days at home on my couch, watching Anthony on A Cook’s Tour, and would drift in and out of my opiate dreams to the sound of his voice. I could fall asleep on a tour of Tokyo, and awaken in Cambodia with Tony, traveling the narrow aisles of the market, joking with the locals and joyously taking in the beautiful tastes and culture of the places we traveled together.

I just knew his was a soul I connected to. He had the same absolute enjoyment, interest and fascination with other cultures and their ways of living that I have always had. The intuitive respect and understanding that the differences are what brings us closer together.

His was a wandering spirit, as is mine. I know he was not always in the same place his physical body was in, and that his mind went even more places than he ever showed us on his many programs.

And to be superficial but honest? He was so hot.

Most recently, his passionate support for the #metoo movement made me love and admire him even more. For a man of his age and generation, to stand beside and sometimes in front of women that were being brutally crucified on social media, showed me his heart and what a wonderful human being he was at the core.

To have someone like Tony as an ally for this movement, firing shots at misogynists on Twitter and in the press, made me so incredibly happy.

Years ago, after recuperating from my physical injuries and in a good place with the mental ones, I thought of writing him and thanking him for “being there” for me during my recovery. I wanted him to know that he played such a huge part daily in my healing. And then I scoffed at myself that someone as famous as him likely receives so much mail, that he couldn’t possibly have time to read it all.

Hearing that he took his life today makes me wish I had reached out to him back then. Just on the off-chance that he did see that letter.

So he would know in those places inside him that hurt, that he had healed another person just by being himself and sharing his life and experiences with us all.

That he had made a difference in my life and at a time when I was most vulnerable and alone, he provided me with something more important than a culinary masterpiece – he gave me hope that if I could survive one more day, I could perhaps travel with him from my home to the next exotic place.

Rest in Peace Anthony – what a life and legacy you leave behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boys of Winter & Prairie Things

I was sitting in Dairy Queen on Saturday, grabbing a quick bite before heading to my friend’s husband’s memorial service, when I was suddenly, and without any control at all, overcome with tears. I sat there for a few moments, trying to stop the flow, and kept my head down, in order to hide my face from those at tables surrounding mine.

People that were with their children, no doubt fueling up prior to spending a Saturday running errands, taking the kids to indoor leisure centers or movies or even the pool. Endless possibilities and even more activities that every Canadian family has spent Saturdays doing.

Maybe even headed to play hockey.

The tears didn’t start because I was heading to a memorial. My friend’s husband had lived a long, full, productive life and after a relatively quick battle with cancer, had succumbed to the sweet hereafter, with his family and loved ones surrounding him. Medicated, pain-free and at peace.

On Friday evening of April 6th, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team  was struck by a semi trailer 30 kilometers north of Tisdale, Saskatchewan. The team was on its way to Game 5 of a semifinal against the Nipawin Hawks, also in Saskatchewan, when the crash occurred around 5 p.m.

I heard about the accident on Friday evening, saw brief new items, which were very minimal, as the accident scene was still active, with reports of a code orange event having been called. I systematically shut down as many visceral imaginings as I could, took some medication, and called it a night. Due to my own intimate experience with motor vehicle accidents, and the subsequent post traumatic stress disorder that evolved following, I simply cannot see too many disturbing images or sit with tragedy for too long, before the anxiety starts for me.

I am ashamed to admit that.

Who am I to have the chemical luxury of not fully feeling and empathizing with the pain and suffering of those whose experiences so closely mirror my own?

I feel like a coward when I do this. When I reach for the medication.

I can rationalize that I am only protecting myself and my fragile mental state. I know I have to keep myself safe from intrusive thoughts and anxiety. I can cognitively defend my decisions, having been diagnosed by medical professionals. I instinctively know when it is time to disconnect from the world around me in order to regroup and still my racing heart, my shaking hands, and slow the talons of razor sharp fear digging at my insides.

But I will never not feel like a coward when I do it.

I am a mother of boys. I grew up on the prairies in Canada and most of my memories of childhood are being out in the cold, with my friends, on the ice. Skating, sledding, snowmobiling.

Prairie Winter
Photo credit: Ian McGregor https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_mcgregor/

It’s how we make the best of so many months of cold weather and snow.

Most of the boys I dated as a young girl had dreams of making it in the NHL. They were on community flooded rinks by the age of 3, with hockey sticks in their hands. My parents and my friend’s parents billeted boys from other places, who chased their dreams of being the next Bobby Orr or Ken Dryden. Boys who left their homes and traveled…by bus…every weekend…to play hockey. Across highways and secondary roads, with the hoarfrost on the trees and the piles of silvery snow glinting the sun’s reflection for miles and miles of farmland.

Boys that age are so full of life! That young male energy, with testosterone bouncing off the walls. There is nothing that can come close to the sound of a group of young males that age all laughing and horsing around. The communal ebullience of the upcoming game zapping through the air on the bus like chain lightning. That bravado that seems to be worn so comfortably and without apology only by boys that age, with their entire lives ahead of them.

I won’t go into details that I have since read or seen via media, as my words today aren’t meant to focus on the logistics of the accident.

It is about the tragedy of so many young lives taken far, far too soon, and the years of recuperation and recovery ahead for the survivors; the timeless grief that those left behind will now live with for the rest of their lives.

As a mother, my heart breaks for the parents, spouses, siblings, and children left behind that have had their worlds turned upside down. Those broken souls that will now begin the very real and painful work of trying to put as many pieces as they can back together again.

As a fighter myself, I pray that the survivors who lived through the terror of that crash can reach deep down inside themselves and find the strength they will need to live long, productive, happy lives in spite of this tragedy. I hope that all that know them will stand with them in support and hold them up when they feel weak and scared.

I hope that they never have to explain to anyone in the coming years why they suddenly start crying in a random Dairy Queen  on a sunny Saturday afternoon and that their communities of loved ones and friends realize that things will never, ever be the same.

This morning, I read that one of the victims, Logan Boulet, was an organ donor- he signed up for one when he turned 21. Because of his selflessness at such a young age, 6 lives will be lived due to his generosity of spirit.

A gofundme account set up shortly following the accident, has so far received  $5,730,448.00. I think the original goal was something like $10,000.00.

Ryan Straschnitzki, upon being given the news by his parents that  he is paralyzed from the chest down responded with “well, I’m gonna get onto the Olympic sledge hockey team.”

May we always hold the prairie boys of winter, those boys that were lost, within our hearts and memories and may we always be ready, willing and able to help those that survived in the coming months and years with putting the pieces back together once again.

Oh, Canada.

 

That’ll Be the Day

[[TW] Domestic Violence[TW]

Things had been getting worse for 3 weeks. She had not been sleeping well at night, because after the darkness fell, there were always two scenarios. Either he was not home, but would surely be back later- pounding on the glass patio door, roaring to be let in. Threatening to smash his way through the door if she didn’t open it and allow him entry. Or on worse days, he was there at home, trashed by the time she arrived after work and fueled up to fight.  

One time she arrived after a 12 hour day of presentations and meetings to find the 48 inch flat screen torn right off the wall, an ugly mess of metal and torn drywall where it had resided for years. Plants she had babied like children laying torn in pieces in piles of dirt all over the white living room carpet.

Glass from picture frames destroyed beyond repair, laying in the dirt….her children’s faces looking up at her from under the scattered leaves and dirt. Delicate glass ornaments of her dead Mother’s that she had carried from her childhood home wrapped oh so carefully in oven mitts to keep them safe….crushed under the weight of his dirty boots.

The fact that the television was nowhere to be seen could only mean that at some point during the day a coke run had occurred. She could smell the alcohol the minute she walked through the door and felt her stomach spasm and grip inwards, almost like it was trying to hide.

She wished she could hide, but there was nowhere to go.

No one to help anymore. All the helpers gone like the wind.

Dead – like she stayed awake at night thinking she might be soon. Laying there in the dark, listening… analyzing how and when it could possibly happen; realizing that there were things to be endured during life that were worse than death- things that made you think that death and the release would be nothing compared to the chaos and constant gut-wrenching fear you had dealt with.

She called 911 twice during the month of escalation. Escalation was their word- the ones who took the notes in their little spiral bound notebooks.

But that was after.

Both times they came and put him in the police car and the older cop looked at her with a smirk and told her they couldn’t arrest him, as he had broken no laws. A man is allowed to drink in his own home and did she provoke him in any way?

“You seem pretty hysterical in my eyes, lady.”

Asking why she didn’t just go to bed and let him sleep it off.

“That’s what usually happens” they said.

Twice they drove him down town and let him out of the car and both times when she woke in the morning, he was sitting on the couch when she came down the stairs. She could smell the alcohol from the 4th step from the bottom…could feel everything recoiling…feel every nerve ending preparing for what would come.

Would it be today? Was this the day that it would all come to an end? Any end? Good or bad? Anything to stop existing in this hell of her own making?

“You chose him, lady.”

(Oh my GOD, do you think he was like this when I met him? This monster who makes every day an unpredictable tightrope of survival has the same hands that used to brush my hair so gently and who I would catch looking at me with eyes full of love.)

She stayed at home from work that Tuesday, as she had fallen down the stairs the night before, running in the dark, with the phone in her hand. She muttered to herself that it felt like she may have cracked her tail-bone, although she already knew it when she hit the third stair from the second level, banging down the rest of them on her ass. Every one to the bottom and the hardwood floor met her as she landed.

She hobbled around all day in pain but wouldn’t go to the hospital, as she didn’t want to leave him alone in the house to ruin anymore of her things.

Her memories.

Why did she care more about her things than herself?

She cleaned from the night before as he slept, snoring on the couch…trying to be quiet, trying to make right the mess all around her. Everywhere she looked- glass, plants, dirt…so much dirt.

The smell of dirt and beer and vomit like a fog that would never go away.

He woke at 5:03 P.M.

She remembered the time exactly later that night when the questions came. She heard the sound of the tab being sprung on the beer can from the kitchen and looked at the clock- her instinct was to look at the clock for some reason. She finished with the garbage bags and then tried to quietly get up the stairs to the bedroom at the sound of the second can popping.  Her back and legs were not working well-angry and rebelling at her from her clumsy fall down the stairs the night before.

At the fifth step, she felt his hands in her hair and was yanked backwards down the stairs, falling against him and to the floor at the bottom. Wrestling with him, scrabbling on all fours in her old flannel pajamas, trying to get a grip with her bare feet to get up and away. Moving as fast as she could with her poor, poor back screaming at her. Going for her purse- her keys- then feeling his fist slam into her cheek, knocking her sideways, her ears ringing and her ear throbbing heat.

Whimpering but quiet- knowing things would escalate if she got loud with him. Pulling her purse back to her chest, while he pummeled her head and face and shoulders and breasts with his fists.

Feeling his spittle striking her face as he swung……barely registering the words he was screaming at her; the vile curses he spat out at her, the ENORMITY of his rage.

She grew winded from the wrestling required to block her face and chest and dropped to her knees, trying to catch her breath, all the fighting- she was not young anymore, and already so broken from so many other things and events and she smoked and didn’t have enough air to keep defending herself.

She heard him moving toward the kitchen, his boots- from the carpeted living room to the kitchen tile. Heard him slamming drawers open and closed- searching for something.

She made it to her feet and had just turned towards the hallway; thinking she could make it out the front door if her back held out; gripping her purse tightly to her body. The purse which held her keys and her escape.

Before she could take a step, he was back and all over her again, swinging, and hitting her in her face, her head, her neck- punching her with his fists in her chest and arms-trying to pull her purse away from her, her keys, her escape. She barely registered the feeling of wetness on her face, the feeling heat running down her arms- the stinging pain in her head.

She dropped again to her knees in front of him and then looked up . Looked at him fully, gripping a pair of scissors in his fist. Her vision was wavering and she was having difficulty focusing on him. There was a soul-slamming realization that this was likely her last day on earth and suddenly she felt all the air and fight whooshing out of her, like a deflated balloon.

He was swinging down at her, randomly now, like a robot. His dead eyes- nothing behind them at all. No humanity left inside the body that kept hitting.

A thought tickled her brain- the thought of her youngest son. How he had pulled away in the last few months and how they had barely spoken to each other. Somewhere inside of her a small voice said ” if you die today like this, he will live the rest of his life regretting the time lost leading up to your death. He will never get over this…it will shape every day of his life until his own death.”

She swung her arm out towards him,  her purse swinging and hit him right where her father had taught her all those years ago to swing/kick at if a boy was getting “fresh”.

He staggered a bit – off-balance and to the right- just enough to allow her to get to her feet and to keep swinging that heavy purse at him. At his head, at his hand holding the scissors, covered in her blood. She kept swinging and swinging and felt her own rage rising in her like a thick hot bile. Her arms were soon covered in scratches from those scissors, but she didn’t even notice. She pushed at him and pushed until she had a clear path to the door and she ran.

Ran like she was 15 again and competing in track and field day.

Ran like she hadn’t smoked cigarettes for decades.

Ran like she wasn’t bleeding and broken and exhausted and depleted.

The clumsy girl who could trip on a gum wrapper high hurdled the low fence in the front like she was competing in the Olympics and  jumped into her truck and locked her doors JUST as he came out of the house towards her.

She tore out of her parking spot in reverse and was shifting into drive when she heard a loud thump from behind her and saw in her rear view mirror that he was in the bed of the truck and moving towards her in the cab.

He had taken the time to grab a knife on his way out of the door after her and it was catching the sunlight and making kaleidoscopes of colour in her rear view mirror.

She hit the gas hard and heard him slam back into the bed, but as soon as she slowed down, he was back up on his feet again and moving toward the sliding window behind her in the cab.

That was the moment that she stopped thinking and moved into autopilot, not stopping or slowing at all anymore, oblivious to pedestrians, or traffic, or strollers, or lights or signs.  She flew across 4 lanes of traffic, hitting her gas and then her brakes, like an automaton….no longer looking back to check his position in the bed of the truck- looking forward only, and grinning a bit. GRINNING- every time she heard that loud slamming in the back of the truck- knowing he had been thrown back on his ass again and wasn’t any closer to getting to that sliding window inches from her back and neck.

She didn’t look back for 10 minutes that seemed like 10 days- just kept driving- speeding up and slamming on the brakes- as she drove herself to the nearest neighbourhood police detachment.

To this day, she is unaware of the exact moment or location that she eventually threw him out of the back of the truck with her erratic driving.

She sat in her truck in the parking lot of the strip mall, waiting for the police to arrive and smoking a cigarette. She looked around her at the people coming and going, buying KFC or Pizza Hut to take home to feed their families.

She held a forgotten sweater she found inside her truck to her head to slow the blood from where the scissors went into the top of her head.

She didn’t think about him at all.

Not once.

She pushed all of her thoughts and all of her feelings to a safe place for a later review and slammed that door shut.

She lit another cigarette and enjoyed the newfound stillness inside of her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Trigger Warning*An Open Letter to Physicians & Surgeons

I am writing this letter to hopefully educate you on the appropriate ways to perform invasive medical procedures on those with a past history of rape, child molestation or intimate trauma of any kind.

Some of us have histories of that nature and some of us choose to share that very private information with you during our surgical consult sessions. Some don’t, as they have attempted to put those very emotional issues in the past and choose to move forward with their heads held high and with grace and courage you could not even begin to comprehend.

I was the former and chose to share my history with you prior to my very first colonoscopy, in the hopes that you would be understanding of my fear and numerous questions regarding the procedure itself, the time involved, the medications utilized and their potency. I made a point of apologising repeatedly in your office with every question I posed to you, as I could tell you were impatient with my questions regarding my procedure.

I get it.

As you pointed out, you do twenty of these a day. It’s no big deal. You are the best at these. I work in the medical profession as well, so I know how physicians view their time as far more important than anyone else’s.

And rightly so.  You and your colleagues make a lot of money for your time, don’t you?

After our consultation, I showed up for my procedure, you went to work doing what you do “the best”, but at the end of our scheduled time, you informed me that you didn’t schedule enough time, so I would need to return in a few weeks so you could finish the job. I am aware neither of us knew that I would have polyps that required you to spend a bit more time to remove. I know this wasn’t your fault at all, in fact. Just my luck to be the last appointment of the day, and you not having a baseline on me, as this was my first time down this particular medical road.

I went home that day so incredibly proud of myself for even undergoing the procedure, you know.

I had numerous thoughts of skipping it entirely, as I had been on a good run of stable mental health and was in a good place emotionally about my past. I had put a lot of tremendously hard work into that. Years of work, in fact.

I shared some of that with you in the consult. How I had a history of not complying with requests for medical procedures which might trigger me or bring back the worst of my post-traumatic stress. How my way was to just hope for the best as far as my medical health went, as I was struggling enough to keep my mental health stable.

I trusted you and I am afraid, you let me down when I came back for my second procedure.

During the second procedure, which was lengthy and again involved removal of polyps and clips and some sort of laser suturing, my medication began wearing off. You were taking biopsy samples, which required you to remove the device used numerous times and then reinsert to continue on your way.

I could sense you were getting frustrated. You were moving faster, and two times in a row, you missed your target on the way back inside of me and hurt me. You hurt me a lot, in fact.

I began to move my legs a bit, I know. I will take my share of the blame here. I am used to being the one to apologise. I have done it my entire life every time I have cried due to pain or shame or emotional distress during an invasive medical procedure. I moved my legs because I couldn’t help it, I suppose.

You told me to stop in a rather stern voice, but rather than asking me why I was moving, crying or maybe…just MAYBE…taking the time to stop what you were doing long enough to question me about my distress, you chose to repeat your command to stop moving in a louder, harsher voice.

So, I did what I learned was best, all those many years ago.

I stopped moving.

I froze entirely, in fact.

I cried without making a sound, with my chin tucked as far into my chest as I could get it.

The nurse assisting you DID notice my tears, even though she was not in a position to see my face, but I believe she noticed because that is what nurses do. They look at the patients. They see the patients. The have empathy for the patients, those vulnerable patients who trust you to hopefully heal them, and even if you can’t, please don’t hurt them more than they have been in the past.

She rubbed my back softly and told you she was going to give me more medication.

She didn’t ask you.

She told you.

And in that moment, she made me trust her.

As the medication began to work, you were able to complete what you were there to do, with no more problems from me. I could stop apologizing for being an inconvenience for you.

Just in case my account was not straightforward enough to properly explain the problem I had, I will explain it from our differing perspectives.

You: I didn’t schedule enough time for this patient. I am the best at these procedures and can usually slam twenty of these out in an eight hour day. I am paid by the procedure, not by the time, so I need to maximize every minute, to ensure I can fit as many patients as I can into my booking times allocated by the hospital. This one is a pain in the ass and ended up with more polyps than I counted on, and has already cost me money. Now, she is moving around, and making my work harder, as I don’t want to inadvertently harm her while doing the procedure, as it will maybe affect me financially or professionally. I wish that nurse didn’t give her more medication, because that cuts into my profit margin. Oh well, I will just finish this one up as fast as I can, and she will be on her way!

Me:  Confused, medicated and in pain. Room is dark. Being penetrated by something from behind me. In and out. In and out. In and out. Frustrated male voice telling me to stay still and stop moving. Angrier male voice telling me to STOP MOVING AROUND, while I am being penetrated and my insides feel like fire and my backside is stinging. I can’t run away. I am at the mercy of the male in control in this dark room. Freeze and stop moving and hope it’s over soon or you just die so it stops.

I just received a letter in the mail from your office today, informing me that you have scheduled me to be back in February to do it all over again.

Right at this moment, I doubt I will be there.

Today, I doubt I will even give you the courtesy of a call to confirm that I won’t be there.

After reliving this once again in order to write this for you, I hope my not cancelling costs you money, in fact.

The childish part of me wants you to hurt too, and this seems the easiest way to make that happen.

Once again, I’m sorry. But you are the one who awakened that child again in that dark room, when you didn’t have even the smallest bit of compassion or human kindness within you to take at most three minutes out of your busy day to see why your patient was distressed.

Here’s a link that may educate you a wee bit.

I hope this letter helps to educate you and your colleagues and I also hope it helps to ensure that this kind of experience doesn’t happen as frequently as I fear it might.

Signed,

One Sorry Patient

 

Featured image courtesy of Project Unbreakable

 

 

 

PTSD

I just found this online by accident and wanted to share as it is the best explanation I have ever come across yet as to what living with PTSD is like.
I, thankfully, have not suffered the debilitating effects of depression,  but certainly can relate to anxiety of varying levels every day of my life since my accident.
You understand you aren’t reacting rationally and yet cannot control yourself.
It is exhausting.

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
– David Foster Wallace