It happened so quickly my mind couldn’t even process it.
In fact, 365 days later my mind is still processing it.
It comes and goes in bits and pieces, trying to form the whole accident over and over again.
It is spurred by triggers- like the sound of water under my car, the slush of water hitting up off of the back of big trucks, 18 wheelers being close, hard rain, or if I hear the word “Car accident” too much.
But I’m learning how to handle the flashbacks. I’ve learned that if I don’t let myself see the events again I go into panic. My body goes into fight mode.
But if I let my mind replay it again (put on your seatbelt) :
I look into the rearview mirror to see what’s behind me since I can barely see two feet in front of me. I see the 18 wheeler. It’s on my tail. I don’t feel safe. My heart begins to race. We’re going down a hill. It’s too close. I don’t like it. I move into the right lane. Somewhere in the middle I looked over at Jesse. I know I did because he brings me comfort. We get into the right lane. We hit something slick. I can’t control the car. Jesse’s hand reaches over and grabs the wheel. I look to my left, see something really white. Hear a huge crashing/ cracking sound. “I love you, God.” All the while Jesse is telling me what to do:
“Slowly apply the break, Kat. Okay, good. You’re doing a good job. Okay, baby, ease off of the road, but don’t slam the break, okay? Okay, you’ve got it, Kat. You’re doing great. Okay, now take your foot off of the break.”
I don’t remember my body making the movements, but I remember hearing it and doing what I was told. I wasn’t there. I really wasn’t. My body was moving but I couldn’t feel it. I felt like everything around me was frozen until we stopped the car.
My head is down. I don’t know why it was down. I don’t know how it got there. I don’t even remember the glass breaking or my eyes closing, but I know it all happened.
I slowly lift up my head and look over to my right. Jesse is there. He’s all in one piece. I can see him, so I must be okay. But am I okay?
I asked him if I was dying because that’s what I automatically assumed since we hit an 18 wheeler.
He tells me I’m okay. I see blood. Lots of it. I ask him if my head is bleeding and point to the side of it.
“No, baby, your head is okay. Your nose is bleeding, but it’s okay. You’re okay. I promise you’re going to be okay.”
How did he keep so calm?
I look over and see my hand sliced open. Lots of blood. I don’t do blood.
I start freaking out. My hand is bleeding. I CAN SEE MY BONE (it wasn’t my bone. It was my tendon hanging out).
That’s when the pain hit. I didn’t even feel pain until I saw it.
He gets me out of the car on his side. People come over. Ask if we’re okay. Say nice things.
I’m dizzy. Really dizzy.
Jesse is taking off of his shirt and then wraps his undershirt around my hand. I keep saying how badly it hurts.
They tell me to lie down. It’s muddy. I’m cold. It’s wet. My hand hurts. I’m scared. Am I dying?
The ambulance gets there. Jesse holds my good hand. Walks me to it.
I see it all clear as day.
My face healed in a week. My hand took longer. I had three pieces of glass inside of my hand that I had surgery to remove, but that all healed up really well! I’m missing a tenon. Apparently it was “obliterated,” but “it’s okay because God made two there!”
My scar looks good and cool and I have a huge story I get to tell.
But the wreckage. That’s where I stand.
My hand might be healed, but my mind still has open wounds.
It takes time, I know. It’s been 365 days. But I know that God will pull me through it.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been a LOT of progress. Just the other day I willingly chose to drive on the interstate. That’s literally the first time I have driven on the interstate by choice.
I still have a long way to go, but it’s about patience and about baby steps.
But let me tell you, the wreckage isn’t easy. It isn’t fun, but it is growing.
I might mentally struggle, but spiritually I am maturing.
It takes a lot of relying on Jesus. A LOT of patience and a LOT of hope.
Because God ALWAYS wins, and He will win with this battle, too.
I’m going to be honest. In my life I’ve been through a lot of things that have given me good stories, but in those things, I’ve always just kind of struggled through them and shrugged them off.
This car wreck is the first time in my life I have ever been left asking God “Why?”
Not the wreck itself. It happened. I didn’t ask God why it happened because I knew that He was going to use it for His good! No issues there.
But the anxiety. That’s what I’ve asked God about a lot. WHY do I HAVE to struggle with this? It’s too tough. I will NEVER get back on that interstate, especially in rain. WHY won’t you just answer my prayers and take it away?
I think when I was younger I never asked God why because I wanted the answer that I wanted. I knew that I might not get what I want, so I just avoided asking the question.
But this time, this time I let myself ask it, and I’m glad I did.
Because God has answered my question by not giving me a clear answer. He has answered it by allowing me to grow and mature and trust in Him and Him alone.
The only way I can find true comfort in a panic attack is listening to worship music. That’s literally the only thing that will pull me out of it.
Asking God “why?” made me get that it’s not about why. I don’t need a clear cut answer. It doesn’t matter why the anxiety is happening.
What matters is how I’m getting through it and what I’m doing with it.
That’s what matters.
Because there is BEAUTY in WRECKAGE. Don’t you see that?
Because wreckage makes you vulnerable.
And vulnerability makes you approachable.
And being approachable brings people out of their shells.
And when people are out of their shells with walls down, that's when God uses you to move.
It’s not about why.
It’s about what you’re doing with it.
So let me tell you what I’m doing with my anxiety-
I’m talking about it, now. I’m boasting in my weaknesses. I’m being honest with those around me, but more importantly, with myself.
It’s been 365 days and I have driven on the interstate by myself ONCE.
I have panic attacks.
I have flashbacks.
And recently, my doctor prescribed me anxiety medicine.
You see? My life is not perfection like I sometimes try to portray.
I haven’t taken it yet, and I haven’t decided if I will or not, but I have it.
Because sometimes healing is about taking a step back from ourselves and realizing we CAN NOT do it on our own.
And maybe I’ve been trying too hard to be brave.
Because I’m not brave.
God is brave.
and He makes me brave.
So that’s where I stand 365 days after the most traumatic and terrifying event of my life.
I stand in the wreckage.
Willing to admit to anyone willing to read this that I can’t do it on my own and I haven’t been doing it on my own.
Just ask Jesse. Ask my family. Ask my friends. Ask my pastor.
They all know. They’ve all seen it.
The shortness of breath- the glazed over eyes. The panic attacks. The brokenness.
But God has a purpose for it. I might be facing open wounds,
but I have the ultimate healer on my side.
And in that, there is bliss.
There will always be bliss.
Even in the wreckage.
You just have to CHOOSE to see it.