Friday ended like any other day before a major break for a teacher- gleefully. Spring break was upon us and I was going to have a fabulous week enjoying my husband, my family, and friends. On the way home I picked up dinner, then decided that I should stop by Chick Fil A to treat myself to a milkshake cause dammit teaching is hard and I deserve that!
At the red light around the corner from my house I picked up my drink from the cup holder and shortly thereafter milkshake was everywhere in my car. On the roof. On the steering wheel. On my legs. My car seat. E-VER-Y-WHERE.
What in the…
I turn around to check on Pea, who thank God was okay and just a little scared.
I’d been rear-ended by a white van. Thank the jeep gods for putting the tire behind my car because while he jacked up his front grill, he merely scuffed up my tire and tow hitch.
Long story short:
The husband came to get Pea.
There may have been words exchanged between both parties.
The husband leaves with Pea.
I try to diffuse the situation asking for license & registration and offering mine.
White van human refused to give it until the cops came.
White van human’s friend shows up with his wallet.
White van human and his friend start talking and decide that this would be a good time to tell me what a bleep my husband is. (Think: sick, drop the s, add pr) It all went downhill from there:
There was a lot of yelling- at me- by two men on the side of the road. F-this, F-that, This is BS… and so I call the police back. I let them know that I don’t feel safe as a female standing on the side of the road being hollered and cussed at by two men.
The police come, send white van human’s friend on his way by telling him that he really didn’t need to be there.
I call my neighbor and asked her to come stand with my while I waited for the officers assigned to my car accident arrived. After tickets were given out and people went on their way, I got home, pulled into my driveway and completely lost it.
I was shaking.
My heart was racing.
I was sweating.
My head was throbbing.
I was struggling to breathe.
And I cried a deep, sorrowful cry like nothing I’d done in a while.
In talking to my shrink and my therapist I now know that I had a PTSD episode in which my body reexperienced my traumatic event in a physiological ways. Days after the car accident I was still shaky, still disoriented and feeling very blah.
I asked my shrink a lot of questions because I’d really like to understand PTSD. Maybe the more I know about it, the more in control I will feel. One thing that I learned is that by reexperiencing my traumatic event, my body produced a high amount of adrenaline. So the shaking, the feeling of being on edge and highly emotional was from a large amount of adrenaline. My shrink said it could take days or weeks for me to come down from this place.
I don’t have time to be jumpy and emotional for weeks.
Even as I type this, I’m still emotional. I am more hypervigilant than usual and I’ve been a bit irritable with my kids, which I hate. hate.
I asked my doctors what I would be able to do to control my reactions and the answer was nothing. With PTSD part of my therapy is to be able to identify my triggers, which of course would be anything that reminds me of my traumatic event and avoiding it. BUT, there will be times when you can’t control it- like I couldn’t control white van human and his buddy’s response to my husband asking “how fast were you going?”
I couldn’t control that they thought waiting for my husband to take our daughter home would be a great time to gang up on me and start yelling and cussing on the side of the road like macho men.
So I had no idea what a deep, visceral reaction my body would have to that stimuli.
To being yelled at on the side of the road by a man who hit me and his buddy.
I’ve always wondered if I was a fight or flight kinda girl. I imagine that we’d all like to think that we’d fight, but until you are actually in a situation you never know.
When the first set of officers came he told me to get into my car so that I could be safe and I thought “Why?” And when talking over the event with my doctors they said “and you stood outside of your car and talked back?”
Yes I did.
Because I am a grown woman and no penis-having human is going to disrespect me and stand out here hollering and cussing at me on the side of the road. What “man” does this? Talks to a woman like that? Now I’m not saying that I’m a gentle flower who deserves to be treated as such, but what I’m saying is that I’m raising my son to be a gentleman and to have respect for women and follow our societal norms which say that men don’t put their hands on women and men don’t talk to women any ol’ way just because they feel like it.
And we can argue that, but as a sexual abuse survivor, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. You’re entitled to your own opinions on how men can treat women and I won’t judge you for it.
I signed up for a race this past weekend and upon getting ready for bed on Friday night I knew that I really didn’t want to run it. It is not abnormal for me to sign up for a race weeks or months in advance and then come race day ask myself “why the hell did I sign up for this?” This time, though, it was different. My soul was not well and I just wanted to crawl under my blanket, sleep in, emotionally eat, and do nothing.
As I was putting my Flat Dee together (Flat Dee= Flat Dawana a.k.a. my race outfit) I pulled out my “Her Power” tee and knew that I was going to wear her to race on Friday.
Nevertheless, I persist.
That’s what she says.
That’s how she makes me feel.
When the whole thing went down with Hillary I never really took the mental space to digest what that meant, but here I was telling everyone at that 5K that I persist.
Day in and day out.
The struggles that are involved when living with childhood trauma… the scars- they are deep. I told my friend Stephanie that there is a lot of hurt in my heart.
When thinking about my mental health, there are so many words that I can use to describe myself including:
After the race I needed to use the restroom and while there was a restroom facility available at the park, I chose to use the port-o-potty. Why? I couldn’t bring myself to go into a restroom that could possibly have hard lurking around the corner.
I can also think of so many other, greater words to describe myself as well:
I mean. I persist. Each and every day I make that conscious choice to get up. To show up and to do the damn thing.
I persist, even when men try to demean me and tear me down. Even when men try to disrupt my run by catcalling me on the road. Even when anxiety, depression, and PTSD are calling my name, pushing down on my head trying to drown me.
And I will continue to fight and do so because this life is a beautiful and messy thing that I want to be a part of.
You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter.
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?You may shoot me with your words,
I’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousands times again.
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.