So, I had to travel down to Northern Virginia for work this morning. It was my first long drive since I had the accident on my return trip from the same area a month ago.
I had been dreading this day, but I knew it was coming. In my line of work, I have to travel to meet with teaming partners and customers. It doesn't mean that I wasn't terrified as hell that I'd 'lose consciousness' or 'fall asleep' or whatever happened last time.
I was edgy as hell and didn't sleep well last night as a result of it. I got up early and hit the road wondering if I was going to be ok, but felt seriously spooked.
I arrived in one piece without the slightest hint of drowsiness...
Wondering if I'm EVER going to be able to drive without fear again.
What I realized is that while the accident and the drive today triggered my PTSD, I was surprised to discover it wasn't the event that triggered my PTSD. It wasn't the fear either. It was the memory of waking up, wondering if today was the day that I was going to die, having to confront that reality, be ok with it.
For obvious reasons, the memory of that reality was not exactly one that I cherish. But is was a necessary reality. Every day you go outside the wire in Iraq, you have to confront your fear, otherwise it can paralyze you and make you freeze when you can't afford to. Accepting every morning that each day could be my last saved my life.
There's a false equivalence between the two experiences that is bothering the hell out of me though. This is the definition of scripted behavior. So how do I address this? I can't go into hypervigilant mode every time I have to drive a longer distance. It's not sustainable and neither is the adrenalin that was flowing through me all day today. It's exhausting and frustrating all at the same time.
I just don't know how to fix this feeling. I'm a bit out of practice with contending with and deconstructing new scripted behavior. I guess we'll see how the return trip on Friday goes.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.