Today I took on a task that I’ve been avoiding for 1.5 years. I refuelled a ute (truck!). It sounds ridiculous, by my fear of petrol has prevented me from doing this very basic activity.
Mike stopped the ute and told me he wanted me to fill it up. I paused and took a deep breath and realised I had to do it now. He and I both know that it’s a mental struggle for me, so he stood and talked me through it. He touched me to reassure me I was going to be ok. I was shaking and hesitated, but knowing he was standing with me…at least if the diesel did ignite, we’d both be a goner. If he thought it was safe enough to stand there, I did too. I trust him. He made me feel safe.
The infamous cow shit covered clothes…
These images are from the time period when the accident took place. Apart from the second one, that’s today!
Leading up to this point today there is a sense of urgency for me to tackle this problem. I’ll be driving a seeder in a few weeks, and I’ve got to be confident to fuel it up on my own. I certainly don’t want to faint or have an anxiety attack in front of our new boss.
Until today, my reaction to petrol was still very panicked. If there was a petrol jerry can in the shed I would walk as far from it as possible. I’d not go near gas tanks, or cans for fear of explosion. I’d avoid standing in the gas station. I would sweat and my skin would feel cold. Every so often I’d end up covering my face with my hands out of total fear. Mike has been very calm and patient with me. He helps me when I need a voice of reason.
Last year I was able to learn to light the gas stove, and touch matches. I did have some post traumatic stress counselling initially after I left the hospital, but for the most part it’s been little baby steps toward being confident around gas, matches, and fire.
Sometimes when a television programs show someone being burned or who has been I get incredibly uncomfortable. I have a flash back and my empathy for the pain that person must be feeling (even if it’s a mock scene) is pretty intense. I feel as if I am that person burning.
We can be driving somewhere, or eating in public…and I see the wrinkles on my arm, and I have an instantaneous flood of horrible memories. My brain seems to enjoy making me relive the experience every so often. I wish it would just let it lie.
They say that the more you talk about your trauma, the more at ease with it you’ll become.
This has been the most difficult test that I’ve been through in life. I’m really grateful that I’ve got such a loving and kind partner who helps me, and does not get frustrated with my sometimes slow progress.
I got a big hug and smiles from him when I was able to actually fill up the truck.
One day the memory won’t make me sweat and today I feel really good about where I’ve managed to get with Mikes support.
Have you ever had to overcome a fear? What was your fear? How did you confront it?
If you have been through something traumatic, and it affects you deeply…try not to hold it in. I would urge you to seek a therapist, or councillor to help relieve you of the burden of your memories.