Early yesterday morning I woke from a terrible nightmare. In my sleeping mind I was coming upon a car wreck. I managed to wake myself slowly and painfully before I saw too much but still, I’d seen enough. I was lying there in my bed, alone, trapped in a false moment in my mind. The problem is that the nightmare might have been a contrived image but it’s rooted in reality. I didn’t witness my husband’s death—didn’t see the vehicles collide—but the trauma of June 24th, 2014 remains inside my body.
On the way to the hospital we passed the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles and the wreckage. The aftermath of his death was there in the highway on that dark summer’s night. When I got to the hospital and heard the news I needed to see his body. Though it was traumatic to see him like that—there’s no other word for it—it was what I needed in the moment. I had to make it real but also I just missed him, you know? I hadn’t seen him in 36 hours.
So yesterday morning I woke from a nightmare of blood on the pavement, just all over the place. Shattered glass from a windshield was everywhere too. As my line of vision came toward the place where I was sure to see what remained of the car, my body instinctively began to wake. I was stuck between worlds for a moment there, fighting for consciousness. I felt paralyzed. The image of the nightmare was gone but I still wasn’t quite awake.
Finally I came completely to and my eyes popped open. I was relieved to be in bed but my heart was racing and my breathing shallow. The terror was still upon me even though I knew it wasn’t real. “Chris is okay,” I reminded myself. “He’s in heaven.” I sent a text to a friend who is an early riser asking for prayer. Very quickly I got a response back both validating me and answering the call to pray. No platitudes were given and no reasons why I shouldn’t feel disturbed.
I once had someone tell me I shouldn’t say I have PTSD. This individual felt that by naming it, I was somehow giving myself a copout. I disagree; and furthermore, this person is no longer in my circle. I believe that by naming the problem it means I have an ability to form a plan of attack. When I look at the symptoms of PTSD I just see so much of my behavior/body’s reactions listed. It’s a relief, honestly, to know that all of this is to be expected and isn’t my fault but that it can be overcome. I am nothing if not resilient. I am nothing if not persistent. I am nothing if not a woman who keeps going when it just doesn’t make sense. Call me stubborn or call me tenacious; it matters little. But the PTSD—though it’s real and it’s here—it does not define me. It’s something I deal with, not who I am.
I’m Aimee. I’ve walked through the fire and I’m still here because I have a loving God who has redeemed me. The Holy Spirit lives in me and He defines me—not my tragedies or my scars. My purpose is to glorify Him in all that I do. I will speak of my brokenness with a loud voice because others need to see that broken vessels can be made whole and useful again. I am broken but my Jesus makes me complete!