If you follow my Instagram, you might know that something pretty scary happened to Jesse and me this weekend. We were driving home from a wedding and an oncoming car veered into our lane. If Jesse hadn’t swerved off the road to avoid them, this car would have crashed head on into the driver’s side. Jesse’s side.
It all happened so fast but I swear the entire scene of what could have been flashed before my eyes. I instantly saw every detail of an alternate reality – the one where I stumbled out of my side of the car, ears ringing, to see the two vehicles smashed together. I could hear my own screams, I could picture the 911 call and the ambulance ride. I even saw the hospital waiting room and the phone call to Jesse’s parents and best friend. It all played out in my mind in less than a second’s time.
You can call me dramatic. You can say I over-reacted. But I was deeply shaken by the experience. Even though nothing bad happened, I couldn’t seem to get over the thought of loosing Jesse. My partner. My love. Even now, my eyes well up with tears thinking about this alternate reality that, thank you Jesus, never came to pass. My reaction to this experience, while valid, did raise some questions within me – questions like: why can’t I seem to shake this? Why can’t I let go and just be grateful that we’re all ok?
And then I got the sweetest direct message from a kind stranger. She observed that divorce can feel like a death in a lot of ways. I had to walk through and work through so much loss and grief when my marriage ended. (However the loss of my marriage led to a more fulfilling life!) And when I was confronted with the reality of loosing Jesse, it derailed me. I felt like I was spiraling. She reminded me that it’s very normal for an experience like this to trigger a trauma response. Having already endured so much loss, this close call felt like it was almost too much for me to bear.
Realizing that my reaction was entangled in trauma helped me ground myself again. Understanding the root of my fear helped me put it to bed. Eventually I was able to calm my anxious heart and rest in gratitude for our safety and gratitude for the love that I have for this man.