Commenter Cynthia issues a fair warning about my state of mind on the post about my tornado encounter below: “Being unhurt does not mean undamaged or unimpacted.” This is right, of course. I do want to let everyone know that I’m remembering that even if we walk away from a situation with no harm, our brains are sometimes just involuntarily changed by a fearful experience, especially if it lasts awhile. I’m doing what I can to let my brain do its thing, in the interest of avoiding lingering issues around this experience. To that end, I deliberately returned on Saturday to the truck stop to get my car myself, even though I was certain on Friday night that I wouldn’t want to. And in fact, I didn’t want to, but I needed to, and so I did. I think that was a good decision.
Yesterday I called to get my back windshield fixed, and the woman I spoke to told me that the company was fixing another vehicle that was ahead of me on I-65 and had every piece of glass blown out of it. A man ahead of him fared even worse — he was ejected from his vehicle and died. I found this newly horrifying, an absolute confirmation of what would have happened had I not listened to that undeniably loud voice in my head that said, very clearly: “Don’t ever try to outrun a tornado.”
But a lot of this is about choice, at least in a more minor trauma like this one; it’s about how you choose to process a piece of information. And the way I chose to process it was to say to myself, Hey, Jen. The tornado doesn’t get a do-over. It’s finished. You’re not there anymore. And anyway, the real question behind the incessant replay of oh-my-God-what-if-I-hadn’t-gotten-off-the-highway is really “what if I don’t make the “right” decision next time?”
And for that I refer you — and by you, I mean myself — to the last paragraph of the post in question. So when my brain asks that question, I don’t get upset and try to squash it, but I do try to answer it that way, calmly, every time it does.