I’m starting my new job on the 21st. The 17th was my final day at Tufts, but Thursday the 16th was when I’d say my final farewell to a job I’d been at for ten years.
Despite how sad that was going to be, Thursday morning I was in the best mood ever. I was finally ready for the end of one era. And was excited about the start of a new one.
I didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye to my family at Tufts. I didn’t get to say goodbye to the coworkers I’d worked with for ten years. And I have since been left in absolute terror over what is going to happen over the next several weeks as I prepare for and begin my new job.
Within seconds after leaving my apartment on Thursday morning, I was crossing the street and got hit by a car.
Ten years ago, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell. As I fell, my only thought was, “oh god, I’m going to rip my brand new jeans.”
I didn’t rip the jeans.
I ended up breaking the ever loving fuck out of my right leg.
So here I am. At the crosswalk on a beautiful morning. Cars to my left and right both stopping to let me cross. Car at the stop sign in front of me stopped at the stop sign. I pause, double check that all cars are stopped, and I begin crossing.
I saw it happen. But it was like I was watching it happen to someone else.
I saw the car at the stop sign see this break in traffic and decide to make the left-hand turn. I saw the car accelerate. I saw it turn. And I couldn’t get out of the way.
I remember being hit. I remember being lifted off my feet. But those moments afterward don’t exist in my brain.
Ten years ago I trip on the sidewalk and break my leg. Everyone in the emergency room asked if I’d been hit by a car. “No, I just tripped on the sidewalk!” I laughed.
Next thing I knew I was face first on the road. I had the strangest memory. “I was just hit by a car.” I rolled to my back. The pain was intense. The fear more than I can describe. My only thought, “oh god, how hurt am I?”
The driver tried to move me. I knew right away that I had broken teeth. And my mouth was in agony so speaking was incredibly difficult. But I yelled at them to not touch me. I had no idea what damage I’d sustained. I knew how important it would be that I not move. Not when I didn’t know the extent of the damage I’d incurred. Not when I was terrified of what damage I might have incurred. And, god, not when I could have already made things worse by rolling onto my back like that.
There is physical trauma. And there is mental and emotional trauma.
This was both. To an extreme degree.
I remember the police arrived between one blink of the eyes and the next. I don’t remember what actually happened, though, because every thing during those early minutes is a blur.
My brain was trying to protect me. It doesn’t want me to remember.
There are pieces of that morning that are still a blur, three days later. And there are pieces of that morning that are so crystal clear I dream about them over and over. They wake me up at night. I can’t make those memories go away.
Most of my nightmares are centered around the loss of communication. Being unable to tell anyone what happened. Being unable to ask what was happening. Being unable to say how much pain I was in. Feeling abandoned and alone. And the terror. I can’t get that terror out of my mind.
The MGH Emergency Room scanned me from head to toe. They checked my head. My face. My neck. My chest. My back. My abdomen. My pelvis. My legs. My ankles.
When you’re being scanned from head to toe, it’s easy to think, “it’s because they think you’re broken.”
When you’re being scanned from head to toe, it hurts. Having hands all over your body. Being put in positions your body doesn’t want to be put in.
When you’re scanned from head to toe, it’s scary.
And then the wait.
A wait during which I couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak up. Couldn’t communicate with the outside world. Couldn’t ask for help. Couldn’t rid myself of the pain coursing through my body. Couldn’t ease the anguish of not knowing.
“It’s a miracle. You’re so lucky.“
I trip on the sidewalk and break the fuck out of my leg.
I get hit by a car and the only physical damage I sustained were some broken teeth, a black eye, and an assortment of bruises and abrasions and a badly bruised and swollen (already fucked up) knee.
I know this could have been worse. I know that my teeth will be fixed. I know that I’ll eventually be able to walk again without pain. I know that my mangled nose rings will be replaced once the cuts and abrasions on my nose heal. I know that my black eye will fade.
But I don’t know when *I* will be okay.
Mental and emotional damage.
I share pictures on social media. I share a lot of my thoughts and some of my fears, concerns, and hopes.
I’ve got one level of help. My friends are circling around me. They’re bringing me food. They’re helping me get to doctor appointments. They’re helping me financially (getting hit by a car is very expensive). They’re checking on me. They’re present.
I’ve got a second level of help. Legal help who is taking an enormous level of stress off my shoulders. I don’t have to figure out what I need to do next. I just have to focus on healing.
I’ve got a third level of help. My doctors are amazing. They’ll fix my injuries. They’ll ensure I heal.
But there’s still a wall that’s gone up. A tall, thick, impenetrable wall.
It’s my brain trying to protect me.
It’s trying to protect me from the mental and emotional trauma that I’m currently suffering through.
There’s so much there. So much I am afraid of talking about or is in there not even letting me know what it is and it’s getting ready to jump out when I’m not expecting it.
Like all trauma, I know is going to affect me for probably a long time. Right when I was finally feeling like I was healing. Right when I was feeling like I was in the best emotional place of my life.
My mental health is taking a pummeling.
I’ve got a level of help, in the form of my amazing therapist, that I know I can trust. But I feel broken all over again.
I don’t like walls. Particularly tall, thick, impenetrable walls.
I’m not going to let my brain’s misguided attempts at protecting me win this time. I’ll speak up. When I’m ready. When I’ve processed things.
One thought on “Accidents happen. But trauma remains.”
Wow! Eloquently written. Heal.
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