I’m not gonna lie. Yesterday’s post really drained me.
I’ve shared many personal experiences on this blog but nothing like falling through the ice. Apart from the time I hit a deer while pregnant, and that with a large SUV between us, I’ve never had such a visceral sense of my own mortality. Writing about the whole horrific ordeal forced me to re-live it, moment by moment, and by the time I finished the post, I was in tears.
Writing for me is always cathartic. Even more so when I’m addressing something painful. It’s why I rarely discuss Meniere’s Disease; it’s exhausting to think about, let alone share. After that incident in April, I basically just blocked it all out. I got into my car. I left the park and I didn’t return to that pond for weeks. The day it happened, I forced myself to finish work in the same wet clothes I’d been wearing when I fell in. I could have gone home to change, but I didn’t want to because I was okay. I was tough. When I got home that night I rehashed the experience with my family. But I didn’t overdramatize it. I told my mom and dad what had happened, and eventually a coworker, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to share. The opposite, in fact. I didn’t want to think about it. I got out of that pond and moved on.
Writing that post yesterday dredged up all of the terror of that experience. I was there again, watching Betty fall in, hearing the ice break, scrambling for my life. I was shaking by the end, and after I’d finally finished writing I tried to read the post aloud to my husband and found I couldn’t. I was choking on my own sobs. I handed him my laptop, sat down, and wept.
Today I realized that yesterday marked seven months exactly since Betty and I fell through the ice. I hadn’t even realized that while writing the post. But I did today. While I was at that very same park, passing the very same pond, with the very same dogs I’d been with on April 3rd. The only difference? Today we took the trail in reverse and all 3 dogs were leashed. Could my mind have been trying to erase what’d happened?? WHO KNOWS.
I certainly didn’t do it consciously. Today I was just doing my job, like I have been the past seven months. Before writing yesterday’s post, I’d hardly thought about the event in ages. It wasn’t causing me nightmares or anxiety. I wasn’t wasting precious time on what-ifs, like WHAT IF I HAD DIED? Because I hadn’t. But I apparently hadn’t processed the event either. Not fully, anyway. I was just living my life, getting on with things. Right after it happened I’d occasionally remark to my family, HOLY SHIT, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. I COULD HAVE DROWNED. But I didn’t seriously contemplate what life would have been like if I had. I was fine, after all, and Betty was too.
After the incident, I waited weeks to return to the park, long enough to ensure every scrap of ice was gone. Spring was blooming and the pond was teeming with life. All of the dogs wanted to swim, and during each walk I’d spend time tossing sticks into the water, watching Betty and her pals dive right in. The water was still cold but none of them seemed to care. Betty wasn’t scared, and neither was I.