Not what I expected. What happened to me after an intense life event.

suzanneveeken Uncategorized 0 Comments

‘How was it for you when you got that call?’, and ‘How have you been dealing with it?’. Questions I answered a lot, after Alex was hit by a drunk driver on his bicycle and ended up the ICU severely injured. If you ignore the physical scars you could almost forget about what happened last summer.

His doctor recently mentioned that his full recovery was not an ‘obvious’ outcome. That made me think: How come we were both so full of confidence that it was going to be all ok? Looking back, in my mind, my most prominent thoughts and feelings about the event didn’t make sense at all.

When I received ‘the call’ I felt – brutally honest – a little bit annoyed. Maybe he’d gone too fast? Then there was a strong focus: I searched for his passport, quickly packed fresh clothes, and ordered a taxi.

In the days after, when he was still in critical condition, my memory was as sharp as a razor and I could do with a lot less sleep. Survival mode? Oh, yes. It was like something bigger took over; there was adrenaline pumping through my veins. And there was a determination and strength that I had not been familiar with.

As the weeks passed, questions started to pop up in my head: How could I stay so calm? Is that ‘healthy’? I know a fair deal about the human mind and I know myself, so some form of desperation or collapse would be appropriate, right? But it never came.

For sure, I still notice it is one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever been through. When I see a picture of a hart-rate monitor in a magazine, I remember standing next to one in the middle of the night. My hart skips a beat when he tells me he went down in summersault while not paying attention on ski’s (Oh, yes, it skies). And I notice I keep a frantic eye out on my phone when he is out on his bicycle.

Recently, while having dinner with Alex, I admitted reluctantly; ‘I’m really sorry for what happened to you. It was incredibly hard to see in so much pain. Ánd I personally learned a lot from it, so much, that I don’t think I would want to change what happened. I learned to let go, to surrender to the situation, and I know now what it’s like to take care of someone full time, and that there is a primal force within us that can arise in times of need. I’ve gotten a lot of confidence out of dealing with the situation. I feel a bit guilty about this. What do you think?’ He answered dryly: ‘I’m happy you got some good out of it.’ Then he waved the waiter to order cheesecake.

It’s uncomfortable for me to write this down, while I realise there have been moments in my life where it’s been the other way around. ‘Minor’ stuff hitting hard.

So how I’ve been dealing with it? Better than I expected.

To me this example is another confirmation of what we all probably already know. How we feel is how we feel. How we think is how we think. We are all tempted to have expectations or to judge our feelings and thinking. But there is only the way that yóu experience it, and being honest to yourself and people close to you about your true experience can be liberating. And, for me, they became easier to accept.

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