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Explaining to a Dear Friend - I Was Hit By a Vehicle

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Hello everyone. I have not been able to write a proper introduction but I need some advice. I found this place a while ago and read many other threads that seemed to help people. About eight years ago, in the beginning of my first year of high school, I was hit by a van while crossing the street. I was in intensive care for a month afterwards but once they were sure I would not die that week, I was moved into hospitalized rehabilitation and stayed there until release. I still feel resistance against identifying with this-I can not help but frequently berate myself for comparing what seems so small to the other items in the diagnostic list. I still have severe problems remembering most things before it happened, most things except the time I was with my dearest friend. We drifted apart in that year I remained in physical therapy after my release but my memories of just pure joy and contentment with her had been what kept me alive during the first month after and have been what kept me through the worst times since.

I have tried to come to better terms with it all recently and so I contacted her again. In the past I convinced myself that it was better not to tell her so that she would not be bothered, and also so that she would not grieve for as long if something tipped the balance. I ran from everyone right after I realized something was not right and I was ashamed that I could not get over it. I pushed it all down and that let me get through the days but it killed all of my emotions and drove away anyone who approached. There never seemed any way to go back to how we were except to tell her about this and at least outline a little of the past so I have tried to. Everything except the whole expecting and then planning for death part-I do not want to risk pushing her away again. It has been a few months since I have gotten any response from her and I worry that I may have pushed her away again by trying not to. My thoughts have ranged from some hope for a positive result to fear that I have hurt her by saying these things after so long. Has anyone here tried to resume contact with an old friend you lost because of what you experienced? How did it go? Does anyone have any advice for things to watch out for when explaining or advice for how to continue? Does anyone have any advice at all?
All I can tell you Andre is that PTSD is scary to a lot of people and it painfully weeds out those who are really friends. You have real deep friendships and fair weather friends. Some try to hold on some but they cannot. It is sadly an aspect of PTSD and trauma. I have held on to one friend during mine. In time I have made a few new but I have yet to meet them in person. But they understand aspects of PTSD. It is a difficult thing to come to terms with.

All you can do as a friend is be open, honest, and sincere. And if you don't get a response you have to just accept that pain and move on, you have a very long life ahead of you as you are young. The world is still your oyster.
I understand what you say and have experienced problems with some friendships. I have found that people, friends or otherwise, fall into certain catagories. Some understand, some dont understand but are accepting of it, others dont get it at all and others get irritated by it and tell you unhelpful things like....its time you got on with your life. Unfortunately I've lost contact with a lot of friends through this but I try to accept that some just cant understand, they just dont have the emotional skills to. Its too intense for them. Its hard, especially when you want them to understand you so badly but I've also gained some really excellent friends too.

Take it slowly and ask her how she feels too. She may have felt rejected by you when you originally shut yourself away. I would also say, in my opinion, its much better to talk face to face to someone, when you are trying to explain it. Much, much better than email or phone.

Veiled, Claire, thank you. When I was writing that first post I thought no one would respond and the effort would only be for a bit of pain in writing about everything again. The comments about how my explanation to her could have been taken hit right at why I fear that I might have hurt her. I did really just completely withdraw but I could not help it, it was too intense for me too. I have always worried that it would be too intense for those I had been close to for me to tell anyone before so I did everything I could to hide it up to and beyond exhaustion. Rarely speaking, hiding from people, devoting myself to any work I had religiously until it was done, and then finding that I did not really care about any of it. I know that I looked more like a wind-up toy soldier than a person for many years and in some ways I still think that view is preferable to letting everyone know how much this all hurts. I am sitting here crying as I try to even write this.

About meeting her one-on-one, if I could arrange to meet her now I would be overjoyed but I doubt that I would be able to say much because I think I would be crying too much. She did meet me once in that first year after I came back. Through the haze I could tell that she was very sad and I longed to hug her but I was too weak and could not do anything so she went on. A few years later I met her again, she called out to me and that pierced through it all enough so that I could talk to her for a little while but I pushed her away when it pulled me back in. Its hard to think about it now but really when I should have been able to tell her, when it would have been possible to tell her directly, I could not do it. I felt that I had no choice as I felt that I had to go on in school no matter what, and back then if I thought about what happened for even a moment I would begin to cry and all of my vitality just drained away in an instant. About being sensitive to her feelings and proceeding slowly and gently, I thought on the same lines and tried to be considerate in my explanations to her over these months and reassure her as much as I could that I always enjoyed my time with her. We used to spend between about five hours and most of the day together nearly every day for about five years before that damn accident so I have no shortage of sincerity to express in my apologies for my withdrawal. She was always very kind so I do not believe she would ever say anything like “get over it” or worse “go to hell” or anything like that, but I feel that I would deserve such comments from her if she could say such things because of what I did. I am sorry, sort of being pulled around here as this is a very emotional topic for me, these are some of the only feelings I have had in the years since.
You dont deserve such comments. You are not at fault. No matter how you behaved you were not wrong in shutting down. It is just a way of dealing with such turmoil and a symptom of PTSD. You can only function as well as you can. Why should you be able to recover immediately from a such a life changing experience? Can I ask, what do you need from your friend? How would you like her to be? What would you like to tell her?

I know it hurts. I've been there. When I went out to try and rescue the relationship with my best friend (best mate at the time of my accident) it was very, very upsetting. I just knew I couldn't do it any other way. It helped me understand that she really didn't get it. We are still in touch but not to the same degree. It was hard but that is the way it goes. Wanting someone to understand that is unable to is a waste of energy. This is IN MY CASE, I cant say if its the same for you.

The only way I can think of my PTSD and not feel guilty about it and the way I behave is this: if I'd lost a leg (eg. obvious physical problem rather than mental) in my accident then I wouldn't expect to run a marathon that soon after. I'd have to train a hell of a lot and use specialist methods first. Then after a lot of training and a lot of miles I might complete it. If I expected to do everything straight away, just as a could before, then I'd fall flat on my face.
Claire, thank you for saying that. It is strange. I suppose it is left from being so devoted to hiding it for so long. I hid when I collapsed but there were certain thoughts that always came to mind when it happened, things like “Tired? Weak? Need to rest? Not until you are dead.” and every variant imaginable. I do not remember ever thinking that way before the accident but it was my primary thought for a long time afterwards. Intellectually I know that what I did was because of what happened, but sometimes I am just overcome with guilt and hate myself for not having been able to do anything else.

My friend, she is very special. She was and still is the most important person to me. Sometimes I dream about holding her and explaining everything as we sit in the grass on a sunny day. I wake up crying fairly often but I always do after I have that dream. From my friend, I want to be near her again and do everything I can to help her. I want to feel that tranquility I always felt when she smiled and laughed. It is all so different from the pain that I can barely imagine being that happy anymore. I want to tell her that her kindness saved me when I was weakest, and that after the accident I did not waiver in how much I cared for her even though the accident made it impossible to show it and impossible to stay with her. I want to tell her that I will always care for her and do all that I can to comfort her when she is sad and anything else that might help her. Does this make any sense at all?
Hello Andre, I know I said meet face to face but if that's too hard and maybe not an option have you thought about writing her a letter? A letter, not an email. It maybe old fashioned but sometimes people take a letter more seriously somehow, give it more time and she can read it and refer to it if its a lot for her to handle. It will also be easier for you to do too. Something you can take time over and go back to, read and re read so you get it right before you send it. You've got it all down in your last thread, it's all there Andre! Yes, it makes perfect sense. You may even write and decide not to send it. Sometimes that is all you need to do.

I'm afraid I dont think you will get back to the place you were before though. It does sound like you want to go back in time. I understand why you want that but in reality relationships dont stay the same for whatever reason, they move on and develop. You need to decide what you want now from the relationship not what you wish you still had.
Andre, I think Claire is giving you some very sound and good advice.
Claire, I do not know how to describe my feelings for her except to phrase them in terms of our relationship before the accident but you are right that I need to clarify things and figure out what I want and need from her now. I have some ideas. Touch. Things like asking her to tell me what she remembers about the past to try to stir more of my own memories for recovery since many of my own are just gone because of injuries I received.

I know that I do need to work on developing more emotional control so that I can really talk to her without slipping into my old pattern of suppressing everything to do it. I have been crying so much that I am surprised my keyboard has not shorted out yet. I appreciate your concern-to cry like this in public would be embarrassing. Maybe someplace like a park with quiet areas, or private seating at a nice restaurant. Sort of fantastic but surely something could be arranged. To write her a letter... Let the physical presence of paper help convey things. That is a very good idea. I need to work some fluidity into my handwriting again because it has become stark and utilitarian over the years.

In either case I am afraid to tell her about some things. I do not know whether I should even hint at trying to work myself to death or about getting as close to “success” as I did. I am hesitant but I want to be honest with her. Do you have any input on whether it is better to try to describe the side problems or to wait until she sees my hand shake from a seizure? Of course I do not want to frighten her but how could I try to present the side problems without scaring her anyway? My dreams. So many fears. So many worries. So many hopes. They are everything all at once. Everything is hard to think about but I feel that I owe it to her to explain as much as I can.
Hello, I would just be honest with her. Tell her about the symptoms eg: when I do this, this happens and this is how I feel. Maybe a more factual, straightforward way and possibly then the practical ways in which you'd like her help. eg your memory. How about writing down a list? Then elaborate on each item. You are starting to think about the reality of contacting her and explaining things. That's brilliant, your suggestion of a park or somewhere quiet would be perfect. Maybe you could send the letter first and meet up after to talk about it more? I dont think you have to go into massive details about the depths to which you plummeted straight away. Let things go there when the time is right. It doesn't need to be a confession. You haven't done anything wrong in the way you've been, remember! The way you have written your thoughts in these threads shows you can do it Andre. Give it a bit of time and then make a start, whichever way you choose, I have no doubt you can do it and do it well.
I can not thank you enough Claire. It has been a great help to read your responses. To be open about things and actually receive help. To accept this and try to do things without limiting and hating myself more is still very new to me. Really, thank you.
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