I groggily rose from my bed, and as I glanced out the window, I witnessed a thick snow rapidly building upon existing heaps of the heavy, dangerous substance. While the white, sparkling accumulation indeed looks lovely resting upon the pine trees, I have a hard time appreciating that beauty when I know that such weather can so easily rob lives. Therefore, that morning, as I observed the snow falling, I also remembered brakes screeching, cars slamming together, bones breaking, blood spilling, and life lost.
I tried to shake the image from my mind, determined to not allow post-traumatic stress disorder to immobilize me. I went about my usual morning routine, pouring a bowl of cereal and quickly perusing my social media. That ritual turned out to be especially detrimental as several facebook statuses made note of the terrible weather and road conditions. A number of them also included photographs of accidents they had passed during their travel -- semis in the ditch, sedans stuck in snow banks. Such images made my heart beat faster and my breathing became erratic.
I tried to calm myself down and simply steel myself for my own travels. I can do this. I can do this. My car is safe. I can do this. While I was trying ardently to convince myself I was capable of traveling, I then remembered that my husband was driving my car and the minivan was also currently out of commission with a flat tire. This meant I was left with the vehicle that we have long affectionately referred to as “the death mobile.”
|The pins on the hood are necessary for it to stay closed.|
The children are not allowed to be passengers in the death mobile, a 1996 Pontiac Bonneville with 248,000 miles on it. We first began referring to it as the death mobile approximately five years ago after my husband’s collision with a deer. Even at that time, it was simply not worth the investment to properly fix the damage done. Rather, my father made some unique and impressive home repairs. This included jumping upon the hood of the car and smashing it back into shape with the force of his body and a large sledge hammer. This also included replacing the wrecked head lights with a set from the old 1978 three quarter ton Ford that sat decaying in the back forty. As the airbag exploded, the steering wheel now lacks proper cover and one must place two wires together should he or she wish to honk the horn. In short, it’s a real piece of shit on wheels.
However, we have generally found the condition of the Bonneville hilarious. I would not drive it often, but before the children if I had to pick up groceries or run other errands in this car, I felt totally bad-ass. To me, riding in that car spoke, “Yo, look at me, I do not give a fuck. I will run your stupid little Kia Soul right off the road if you can’t drive the fucking speed limit, you skinny little whore.” In this particular moment, I did not feel bad ass or invincible in any way whatsoever. I felt panicked and terrified, and that panic grew into a full blown anxiety attack when my spouse called me to warn that I be careful driving to work as the roads were quite slick and the weather conditions dangerous. I began hyperventilating and stammering out words, repeating “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” Tears began to stream down my face and I began shaking at the thought of driving that unsafe vehicle, which really ought to be driven by no one – ever. I simply could not drive it on slick roads, potentially leading to a fatal crash far too reminiscent of the past that yet haunted me.
|Beep, Beep, Mother - Fuckers! (Yeah, not today)|
Therefore, my husband hung up with me and called my employer to explain the situation while I headed to the medicine cabinet for my clonazepam, taking a tablet and then crawling back under the covers where I was safe and sound. I wasn’t bad ass and I wasn’t brave. I suppose my PTSD had defeated me in this instance. I know that just a year ago I would have been ridden with guilt for missing work under the same circumstances. This time, as I calmed myself back under the comfort of the covers, that guilt was not allowed to join the other demons. I recognized that my PTSD is valid and this was just a day that the death mobile should not be driven. I was assuredly afraid to drive that unique vehicle in inclement weather conditions, but I am also assured that such fear is not my fault. It’s not my fault.