Trigger warning: sexual assault, anxiety, depression
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and
wrote typed out my thoughts. I still maintain a presence in the blogosphere reading, liking, and commenting on other’s posts, but my site has been pretty quiet lately. I have been blogging for over six years now and honestly, it’s had an enormous impact on me. Not only have I made some pretty great connections with strangers on the other side of the screen, I was able to share personal stories via words on a page that I still, to this day, struggle to speak aloud.
I first started this blog as a way to share a story and not just with others who may be in similar situations, but as a buffer for me to share my past with my now husband. When we first started dating, I told him what happened in a single sentence: I was raped. But the type of trauma and the extent to which I suffered could not be summed up in such a simple way. The blackmailing, the manipulation, the heartbreak, the therapy, the court case… I felt it was all too much baggage to unload on a potential love interest, but knew that honesty about my trauma was a necessary evil. Queue bexoxoblog.
I became a storyteller sharing my trauma from start to finish and never once felt judged (except for this one reoccurring commenter who would tell me to “just get over it already”). On days my posts were published, Fella would respond with a prolonged embrace silently declaring: he read it, he’s sorry I had experienced it, and that he still cared for me. And that was enough.
All that to say; I already had content to share. I had an experience that I shared post by post that some said could have been turned into a novel. Once that story was told, I started sharing other stories and life events. I started traveling internationally, I got engaged then got married, I worked through a global pandemic. Things were happening; fun things, interesting things, challenging things. Then…
Working full time in public health post pandemic started to feel like time had slowed and as if life had just been happening around me, which was probably what led me to apply and interview for a new job. I think I wanted a change; a new challenge to usher excitement back into my life.
I donned my lucky dress, prepared some questions, and hit the ground running during the interview. I felt as though the stars had aligned and that this was just a formality in the natural progression of my timeline. Having worked with 3 of the 4 members of the interview panel throughout the pandemic, compounded with my work experience and can-do attitude, I was a shoo-in. I started putting together a manual at my current job to pass on to my replacement and even started looking at destinations I could jet off to between jobs. I was just waiting to hear the definitive offer and start date.
“We’re going with someone else, but your interview skills were spot on and if the other person hadn’t had [a specific type of] experience, then…”
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m typically the kind of
female person who usually gets what they want or the fact that in my mind, I already had the job, but this news broke me.
I wanted that job so badly and all but manifested into fruition, yet somehow it slipped through my fingers. No new challenge. No new collogues to get to know. No between job trip. No pay raise. This almost romantic narrative I created in my mind of how my career was progressing was instantly shattered and I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. I was rejected.
I spent the following weekend sulking and coming to terms with my options: stay at my current gig or continue looking for a new job while weighing the pros and cons of each. Once out of my depressive fog and after reconnecting with some coworkers during an all-day training event, I realized that things aren’t half bad at my current place of employment. In fact, some would say I have a dream job: I get to help people, I can work from home when I want to, I can set my own schedule (currently working extra hours M-Th and taking Friday afternoons off), plus I have some decent coworkers and a great boss. I have plenty to be thankful for.
Coming out of my funk, I put all of my effort into an annual event our district puts on for the community. One of my responsibilities was getting the mobile clinic to the event and set up for use. Prior to the event, I had problems with the engine battery not keeping a charge, but was using the generator to jump it when needed. It wasn’t until I got the unit to the event that my plan failed; the generator stopped working and the mobile unit became a sitting duck. Since I am the sole driver of the unit, I couldn’t help but blame myself for the outcome. Anxiety trigger #1.
The following day we hired a guy to come out and jump the rig; luckily, it started right up. On the way back to the office, I decided to stop at a local state park/campground so I could dump the black tank (sewage tank) before winterizing. After finessing my way through throngs of field tripping kiddos and their chaperones, I made it to the dump station, come to find out the nurses had already cleaned out the clinic of any and all supplies including rubber gloves. Anxiety trigger #2. I had a mental breakdown over the fact I had to dump raw, hazardous waste (urine from STI testing clinics) without proper protection. I cried while wrapping my hands in paper towels and again while spraying out the sewage hose and applying squirt after squirt of hand sanitizer.
Back on the road and my nerves on the verge of being shot, I fall in behind an erratic driver. He was driving a pickup with a trailer on the back, constantly meandering over lines, driving under the actual speed limit all the while touching his brakes every few hundred feet. I couldn’t pass him as the rest of the drivers on the interstate were blowing past at or above the speed limit (including tractor trailers); suffice to say, the 40 ton beast I was captaining doesn’t do anything swiftly, so I was confined to that position. Then came the bridge…
A local bridge has been under construction for years and time has finally come that the new section has been opened temporarily (<– key word). The bridge crosses over a large river with a significant clearance [read: long way down]. Next thing I knew, the mountain ridges opened up creating an intense crosswind from the right, the driver ahead of me slowed down to 20 under the speed limit while an 18-wheeler sped by on my left at full speed creating a pull between our vehicles. I glanced over at the provisional guardrail noting its size and a visual of worst-case scenario flashed before my eyes: that I hit the guardrail and launch the unit over the edge of the bridge and plummet into the gorge below. Anxiety trigger #3.
It was at this moment I had a panic attack. While driving a 40,000lb vehicle. Speeding over what felt like a bridge with nothing preventing me from plummeting to my death. Fighting with the steering wheel to not be blown one way or another.
I couldn’t breathe. I got tunnel vision. My heartrate spiked. I pleaded for the driver ahead to go, go, go; just get to the other side so I could breathe again.
Once on the other side I began to sob. The driver ahead pulled into a rest area a mile down from the bridge which was my plan as well, but I wanted to get as far away from him as possible, so I kept going. I felt my muscles unclench and I could feel myself catch my breath. I just had another 10 minutes before returning, so I pushed through.
Once I made it back to the office, I just sat in the cab and cried. It was a release. I had been holding on to so much anxiety from the last month that it just needed to be liberated. The days following were spent in mental recovery. I needed to exist without outside pressures asking questions, pushing me to my limits, forcing me outside of my comfort zone. I needed to just be.
Which brings us to today. Am I doing better? Yes. Do I still feel fragile? Maybe a little. Is this why I haven’t been existing on my blog much lately? Could be. I enjoy sharing stories, but I also like to feel the emotions I’m writing about as I write them and sometimes I just don’t feel like reliving certain ones; at least not right away.
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Big big hugs Bex!! 💛💛💛
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