Four years ago I faced the one year anniversary of my sexual assault, and I was barely in a better place from the prior year. At the one year mark, my PTSD was overloading my brain with triggers.
I was on a business trip four years ago that had me triggered beyond recognition. It was raining hard, the kind of hard rain that leaves very little visibility, and it was pitch black dark. The hard rain scared me, and I could barely drive. At one point I realized that it was taking all my energy just to drive 50 mph on the highway, not safe at all. I pulled over at a rest stop for a while, but I was still freaked out when I resumed driving. In the end I decided to find a hotel to stay in, though I was only an hour away from home. But I knew it wasn’t safe for me to continue driving.
That whole experience caused a barrel of stress after the trip, as my employer at the time did not want to pay for an extra hotel night when I was an hour away from home. I started getting more serious about my treatment after that trip. Eventually I left this job because I realized that all of the travel was getting in the way of my appointments.
Now I am back doing the kind of work I was doing four years ago, but with a different employer. This position has travel, though not as much as my previous position. Without realizing it, this past week, I was reliving the trip from four years ago. I found myself on the same highway with heavy rain, and a dark night. But this time I understood myself better. I knew that some of the peeps inside were scared, and this is why my body was in stress mode.
When the rain was coming down at a ferocious rate, and I couldn’t see a thing, and I could feel myself start to freak out internally something just snapped me out of the scared mode, and I just said “NO! We are not going to die like this on a road to nowhere with no one around. We are getting out of this, and we’re having room service when we get to the hotel. You hear me? Room service! We’re living through this thing!”
Blessedly we made it to the hotel without incident. I ordered a seltzer and a cobb salad for dinner, and we were so happy to be alive, and safe, and dry.
Then the next morning I had my meeting, and headed home with drier weather and calmer skies. I’ve traveled this road a number of times since that sexual assault four years ago, but this was the first time I noticed the hotel, THE hotel where it all happened. It’s surely been visible from the road all these years as I’ve passed it by. But this was the first time I ever noticed it since that day.
I blinked. Could this really be the place? I stared as I drove by, and, yes, indeed, it was.
What happened next surprised me.
I stared at it, and drove on.