This article was originally written/published by the author under the title “Defeating Guilt and Fear.”
There are some moments in life that we won’t ever forget. It’s burned into our subconscious and carted around like clunky baggage. Sometimes this baggage can turn into unwanted and unfamiliar emotions.
It took me years to get over the guilt of my motorcycle accident in 2005. In fact, I probably used this major life event to define myself at first.
I was a survivor. Saved by God and given a second chance at life.
Scarred by the road on the outside. Tormented by the guilt of survival on the inside.
I spent two nights in ICU due to a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury. The hours and visits were blurred but I do remember certain friends visiting. I could never forget two of our friends from church. They gazed upon my injured body like deer in the headlights. I honestly did not think my injuries were that bad until I saw the looks on their faces.
After spending five days in the hospital, I was discharged earlier than expected. My parents brought me back to their house and said it was like bringing a newborn baby home.
I couldn’t walk without assistance or a cane. My left arm was unusable. And the most humbling of all … I couldn’t shower on my own. My mom and sister had to take turns washing my hair. I was 100 percent dependent on the care of others.
The days and nights following my hospital discharge were unbearably difficult. I was overwhelmed with unexplained guilt and afflicted with panic attacks.
When I was alone in my room at night, tears would begin to fall and uncontrollable sobs seemed to never end. There were several nights that my parents would wake up to me crying in the middle of the night and they would sit with me until I stopped crying.
Indeed, it was like a newborn baby.
I felt guilty for surviving and seemed so unworthy of a second chance. My family had to care for me all because I made the decision to get on the back of a motorcycle.
Guilt. A lot of guilt.
I was still in college at the time with only two semesters left before graduation. Four weeks after the accident, I returned to school for a summer Geometry course; which is definitely not my strongest subject. Honestly, looking back there is no way I could have passed the class without God’s strength.
There wasn’t a question about how I was going to handle my recovery. I just carried on with life. It wasn’t always easy, in fact there were a lot of challenging days. But when I couldn’t pick myself up … it was then that God carried me. Without His love and mercy I truly wouldn’t be where I am today.
My life hasn’t been the same since the accident. It took me a couple years to get over the initial guilt and understand that it wasn’t my fault. Nothing would have changed God’s plan for me that night and I had to come to terms with it.
The last four years have been easier. My accident date is just another day and no longer considered the day I almost died. How did I get to that point?
God and time. It heals all things.
I also learned to channel all of my anger, confusion and guilt into writing. I’ve always been a writer, but keeping a journal during my recovery was the most helpful. Talking about my issues with friends and family was also important; no matter how demented and crazy it seemed. It’s dangerous for your mental health to hold everything inside.
I used to enjoy riding on motorcycles with friends. I’ve even been on the bike without a helmet before. Take it from me … wearing a helmet SAVED my life!
It’s been 8 years since my accident and I haven’t been on any form of motorcycle, bicycle or 4-wheeler. Sometimes the survivor’s guilt still gets to me but I’m ready to face the fear.
I wanted to share this moment with my readers and empower you to stand up against your fear and guilt! It took courage and strength, especially after eight years. But, We can do all things through Christ! Believe it.
In Matthew 19:26, Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.”