Trauma.

I’ve spent the better part of the past 17 years trying to define what “trauma” means and whether my situation qualified. I know, deep down, wedged between particle of doubt and shame, that I went through a trauma. What I have struggled with is locating the correct way to describe what type of trauma I befell.

On December 20, 2003, while driving home from a family dinner with my mom, I struck and killed a transient who has placed himself directly in my lane on a dark highway. The rain and lack of sight made our collision inevitable. At the time, my 18-year-old brain made the impact impossible to quantify. I felt the screams and the tears and the pain course through my body in the second and months that passed soon-thereafter, but only recently have I begun to unpack the ramifications of that night.

When I look at my three children, aged 7 and 3 (twins), I know that someday they’ll find themselves on a dark highway, driving through rain, with nothing but questions through the windshield. And it’s only now that it hits me:

I could have died, too.

I’m in the early stages of writing a book on my accident, but it’s so much deeper than just me. I want to explore the psychology of PTSD, specifically for folks in our shoes. Because oftentimes, when speaking with others who have taken a life, I find commonality in our pasts, of how we deal with the situation, and how we classify ourselves. And while every incident is different in nature and tone, those who are truly accidental carry the same grief.

We carry the same guilt and shame and feeling of inadequacy.

This is the first blog from me, and I want to be as involved as possible with everyone here as we go forward. What Maryann has started is a safe-haven for those of us who are lost. Those who feel alone in our situations. Those who believe that no one else could possibly understand the uniqueness of our emotions.

But we’re not. We’re all here for a reason, a terrible, unfortunate, unthinkable reason. But we’re here. And now it’s our mission to pull you through to the other side; to the world where you can be at peace with yourself and tour past.

Joel Gunderson

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