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Parabolic Trauma

November 30th, 2015 || Time to Read: 6 Minutes

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As promised, a group writing exercise from college. We got into groups, and were to write a section of a story (no real parameters for the assignment) and then pass it off to the next guy without explanation. I broke this into chunks to make it easier to read online. I'm HQ.

I was young. I was strong. But, most importantly, I was whole. That's the old me though; when I was complete. It seems like ages ago that I was truly happy; before the accident, before my life was ripped right before my eyes. It was a rainy Saturday night when everything I knew was taken from me. My wife, my 4-year-old daughter, and I were driving home from my parent's house. We had just finished our weekly dinner with them. It wasn't real late, but late enough that I had to be extra careful.

About two miles from our home and I felt something weird in the pit of my stomach. Something wasn't right. I slowed as the light ahead of me turned red. It turned green before I came to a full stop. I pressed the gas to continue onward.

With that, lights flashed, glass smashed and the car stopped. I looked over to my wife. She was bleeding. I was bleeding. Behind me my daughter's car seat had been completely jarred from their constraints and had shot across the car. Her head, hanging through the smashed window, her body contorted. Blood splattered that of the backseat. I shook my wife. Her breathing was slow and labored. She wouldn't wake up. I released my buckle, crawled from the wreckage, holding my arm, wiping the blood from my eyes, and called 911. This can't be the end. Both of them have too much too live for.

The ambulances arrived and both were pronounced dead on arrival. They each suffered severe blood loss. Why them? Why not me? In a matter of hours I went from happily married to a grieving husband without a shoulder to rest my head. The life I had grown accustomed to was ruined. The rug ripped from under my feet, and the sheet covering my face from reality was torn loose, leaving me to soak in the pain that life holds. - NV

All that life has to offer for me now is a nameless category of grief that plagues me with questions I will never be able to answer. Why didn't I come to a complete stop, why was I left to live? WHY? Because of those endless questions I am left with a sense of hind-sight that will taunt me all the way to my death bed with scenarios that just did not play out.

The memory of that cursed night has left me bitter and emotionally hollow. I no longer see sunny days as a sign of good experiences to come, and I no longer find joy in the activities that brought me comfort in my life before the accident. My blank eyes swell with tears when I see young parents pushing strollers down the street, their contented smiles carrying the promise of a future. I always feel a disgusting sense of jealousy when I see the young men in those instances. The bitches have no idea what life can offer in its ever-turning pages of fate. I can't help but think of all the little things I did wrong that night; about the part I played in the final act of their lives. I have been told over and over by relatives and friends that there was nothing I did wrong, but those words of good intent cause surges of anger to run up and down my spine, and do nothing to alleviate my psychological suffering. The claim that "there was nothing I could have done," just makes me feel more helpless, and furthers my own thoughts of ineptitude toward protecting my own family. Why was there nothing that I could have done to prevent such a horrible thing? What actions could I have taken to have made all of my options of preservation disappear? Out of all of these questions that will forever plague and torment me though, is: why me? - AW

After years of feeling this way, of fending off my depression daily, there was nothing else left to do. I took up my parents on their offer of professional therapy. Sitting on that couch every Saturday morning made me feel absolutely sick. None of it was helping. It was just a ton of textbook psychology bullshit and a man who looked a little too smug about himself with glasses that were just a bit too small asking "how that makes me feel?"

I zoned out. I still made all my appointments, but I wasn't really there. My mind wandered. The shrink's incessant dronings about Sigmund Freud, Carl Rogers, and Joe Griffin became a musical cacophony that served as a background to my inward reflection. I couldn't stop drifting back to the night of the crash. To the community consolations that streamed in during the following months. To my friends dragging me home from bar, after bar, after bar trying to find solace and drown out the white noise.

After months of sitting on that asshole's couch, I finally came to a conclusion. Everything everyone has been telling me is true. Except for that shitty shrink. He can rot in hell for wasting my parents' money, and MY time. What I finally realized, after years of grief, is that there was nothing I could have done. I followed the laws and I followed my gut, but sometimes, there's just nothing else you can do. My wife and daughter were gone, and would be forever, but I was finally starting to come to terms with that. The pain will be with me always, but I realized I am my own number one priority, and my wife wouldn't want to look down from heaven and see me throwing my life away. I couldn't let them see that.

I guess, now that everything is said and done, seeing the psychologist was beneficial after all. It made me make time to just sit and think. Something I haven't done since before my little Martha was born. My head cleared up, and I could think objectively. For the first hour since the accident, my conscious was let free. I could finally breathe again. - HQ

During the following weeks I continued to attend meetings with the psychologist. He seemed to make much more sense than he did during our previous meetings. I began to listen to the psychologist and engage in conversation instead of just mindlessly listening on. Our weekly meetings and my drive to conquer my trauma became the salvation that pulled me out of the dark pits of depression. We discussed many things during our meetings such as my current life, my childhood, and the fond memories of my family. My family was the hardest subject to talk about and I would often break down into tears while recounting memories of my wife and daughter. Still, after talking about the happy moments I would feel better.

During our final meetings we revisited the events of the night that my life was turned upside down. Discussing this moment of my life threatened to plunge me back into depression, but I was able to keep myself from losing attention on the meeting, which was probably why we avoided this topic until now. Images of the blood, broken glass, and twisted metal flashed through my mind clear as the night that the event had happened. Finally images of my fatally injured family came into my mind. During the following meetings we continued to recount the memory of that night, and I slowly began to be learn to cope with the depression and stress from the memories.

After a number of Saturdays spent crying and talking to the psychologist, the sun started to seem a little brighter, the pressure on my shoulders began to lighten, and I felt more energetic. My tragic past slowly faded into a memory and my life began to return to how it was before the accident. - LE

Escaping from my world of emotional trauma was only the first stage of recovery, or so said my therapist. Now that I could focus on things for more than five seconds without breaking down, the pathway began to open in front of me. Volunteering at a depression recovery clinic seemed like an obvious step in the right direction, and everything felt like it was working out. I grew to be well-known in the community and everybody was lending their support for the cause of fighting those suffering with depression.

When it became obvious that there were many more people dealing with these problems in much more than just my community, I decided to start a foundation to help everyone we could. It grew slowly at first, but national attention came with a sudden burst of help from a few celebrities that knew firsthand the effects that huge losses can have on the mind. We tried everything we could to spread the word, and I even gave my own TED Talk on the subject. Support couldn't have been better and the feeling of helping all of these people overcame any shadow of morose sadness that bothered me. Being one with the community and spreading our word helped me accept all that had happened and allowed me to move on past the lingering grasps of depression and become a content man. - SK

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