Broken

Broken again. Sorry if this feels like such a sob story. No wait, I’m not sorry. This is my therapy. I need to remind myself sometimes, that putting these feelings into written words are for me. I’m not looking for sympathy, advice, attention… I just want to vent. And I’m trying to make this feel like a safe place for that. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. It wouldn’t offend me one bit. I’d understand. 

I pulled off the highway at a rest area, stepped out from my truck’s recycled, temperature-controlled stuffy air and quickly realized that it was much cooler outside. I usually pay attention to this, but I didn’t today. The coolness felt good on my skin. It wasn’t until that moment I realized I’d had it set too warm inside the truck. I took in a deep breath of the outside air as I sauntered to the restroom. I smelled trees and sage and fresh air. It smelled amazing. Out of nowhere, my eyes welled with tears and I nearly cried. I’d already cried when the sun came up this morning. I was finding so much comfort in the heaviness of the dark that I didn’t want day to arrive. I admired the pastel colors of the lightening sky, but just cried. I didn’t wipe the tears away – I wanted to feel the gentle tickle as they rolled down my cheeks. I needed something to feel and focus on, and that’s all I felt I had in that moment.  

It’s depression, I thought. Dammit. These small things, like sunrises and the fresh smell of Montana air usually bring me joy and are a reason I love being a truck driver. But not today. Today, for no reason, they just made me cry. My head felt heavy on my shoulders as I realized this depression was settling in again. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to fight this, but I knew I had to find a way to stop it before I fell too deeply back into its vicious cycle.  

I’m just broken. I stayed as strong as I could, but one thing after another kept piling up, and once again, I broke. Adam broke, too. Both of us – at the same time. This happened last year around this time, and it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t so pleasant this time, either. In normal circumstances, a small food container that I put into a high cabinet in the truck falling out and hitting Adam wouldn’t phase us too much. But with all the things that have been going wrong over the past month – the bigger things – that we’d been working so hard to push through piling up, we lost it. Because a food container fell. Adam reacted how he reacts when he breaks. He stepped out of the truck with our giant trucker atlas and began tearing it to shreds in the lot of our shipper. I retreated to the bunk wailing, uncontrollably crying and hyperventilating until my hands shook and my legs felt like noodles. Then Adam got back in the truck, tossed the remnants of our atlas on the floor, grabbed me, and we hugged. Sometimes you can only take so much, and the teeniest, tiniest, stupid thing puts you over the edge. Enter small food storage container.  

A few weeks ago we requested an unplanned week off because we anticipated this breakdown. We felt it coming. Thank goodness we have that time coming up – it’s what’s keeping us going right now, I think. It’s a hope that we can cling to – we might have a little control over that time. We hope. But hope is usually what gets us in trouble, so I don’t know. I think we’re feeling apprehensive about, well, just about everything. Especially hope.  

So now what? I don’t know… When I break down like this, it always seems to trigger my flight response. I seriously look off into the trees I pass by at 60mph all day long, wondering if I could just park this stupid truck and start walking off into the forest. Disappear. I wonder how far I’d get? Could I be the next Everett Ruess? Please? Could I be so fortunate?  

So naturally, my responsibilities overrode all my daydreams of running off into the hills, and I just continued to drive. But my mind didn’t stop trying to come up with a solution to fix my broken self. The only thing that will work, I think to myself, is a long hike. I mean, this got pretty bad – I seriously entertained the thought of quitting – I don’t know what we’d do or where we’d go, but I just wanted to give up. Maybe even with no notice. Right there. Just run.  

After a 600-mile, 12-hour day of working, driving, thinking, and struggling, I decided I’d hold out for my summer hiking trip. Right now, I need a longer hike – a thru hike – one where I really live in nature for an extended period of time until I feel that unique, particular freedom one acquires during a thru-hike. Then, and only then, would I feel repaired. Cured. Unbroken. But… Responsibilities. Plans. Goals. Life. It’s all crap that gets in the way of the therapy I truly need to lift my soul and find that shine of happiness that comes from deep within.  

So anyway, I decided I’d hold out for my summer hiking trip – it’s only two weeks long, but I’ll see if that will be enough time to patch me up and hold me together enough to endure another year. And if not, I guess we’ll have to reevaluate our situation – a change of some sort might be needed. I have no idea what that could be right now, but I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.  

For now, it’s Adam and I accepting each other’s reactions to our situation and just letting them be okay, and just holding each other through it all. I don’t know how I could live through this life without this partnership and this love. Outside of the inner chaos of our world right now, at least we’ve got that. Love.  

F*#@ you, world. You can’t take that away.

Tonight I love my middle finger. 

A near rollover, video-style. 

When I started truck driving, I kinda thought I’d see more car accidents. Not that I wanted to, of course, but I just figured with the large amount of time I’d be spending on the road, it seemed as though my chances were much greater for witnessing more crashes. But I haven’t, really. I usually show up to most wrecks after emergency vehicles have already arrived and things are being taken care of. I’ve driven past a few that had JUST happened, but other witnesses were already assisting, emergency vehicles were on the way, and since I didn’t see any of it happen or wasn’t involved, I’d just slow way down, pay attention to the road and drive on.  

I did witness one very minor accident in Chicago where a car lost control and side-swiped another car. They both pulled off to the shoulder, and since I witnessed it and knew I’d have footage on my dash cam, I pulled over – Adam was up with me, so he jumped out right away to make sure both drivers were okay. They were fine and already calling the authorities. We ended up moving on.  

But recently I got really, REALLY close to witnessing what would have been a terrible rollover. It was a couple of weeks ago. It was about 3:20am and I was cruising along the I-694 bypass in Minneapolis. I was driving 60mph, which was the speed limit along that stretch, and noticed a vehicle coming up alongside my truck pretty fast on the left, passing me. Then I saw his lights get a little too close for comfort, so I reacted by slowing down and moving onto the shoulder a little bit. Even with slowing down and moving over he still almost clipped my front end as he cut in front of me.  

I kept an eye on him after he passed, and things got crazy shortly thereafter. Watch the video I pulled from our dash cam! You may want to pull it up full-screen, and wait at the end – I zoom in and replay it in slow-motion. 

 

After he passed me, I watched him swerve around, and then he started fishtailing. At first, it was really short, tight fishtailing. I slowed down again, and that’s when he really started to swing back and forth.  

It’s amazing how many thoughts can run through your head in such a short amount of time. This same week, I came close to hitting a deer. He started walking out in front of me, and I started braking, but I had to strategically brake so I didn’t lose control of the truck. I also happened to be changing lanes after passing by a weigh station, so I was also making sure I kept my line of travel and didn’t swerve. It was raining, so the roads were wet. All these things were processing in my mind, and on top of those decisions going on, I clearly remember thinking, “I’m going to hit this deer. There’s no other traffic around me. There’s a good shoulder here I can pull off on. I’ll have to get out and check out the damage it caused. Then I’ll have to call safety…” And just then, the deer looked up at me and ran. I missed him by what seemed like inches. After my heart rate slowed down a little bit, I still couldn’t believe that I was already in action-mode, taking care of business. It was like two seconds! 

So as this driver in the video started to fishtail, I was already throwing on my four-ways and pulling off to the shoulder because I was certain I’d be calling 911 to report an accident while running out to check on the driver. I was scared.  

I remember saying over and over as it was happening, “Oh God, Oh God.” Adam had just gone to bed, and he felt me slow down and move over, and then he heard my panicked-sounding chant along with the pickup driver’s squeeling tires. He asked if everything was okay, and I just said, “not really” and continued to explain to him what I just saw.  

I tried to get the vehicle’s license plate number, but he was too far ahead by then – he hadn’t stopped! When he finally did stop, he pulled into an off-ramp and drove up onto the curb. Another car also saw what happened, and they pulled off behind him. I was thankful someone else saw it and was able to pull over, because at that point there was no longer a safe place for me to pull over.  

I was still moving slowly with my emergency flashers on, and just as I was approaching where he nearly crashed, I looked in my mirror and saw a police car come flying down the on ramp behind me with his lights on! I thought, “great! He saw it all happen, and he’ll check on this driver!” Then he flew right past the whole situation. Obviously he missed it and was off on some other call.  

It was crazy, and one of the scarier things I’ve seen while on the road. I’m so very thankful he somehow – miraculously – kept that pickup under control. I don’t know what happened. Given the time of night, my first assumption was that he was drunk, but it could’ve been a health issue – a seizure, a heart attack -or  maybe even a mechanical issue with his vehicle or something. But… It’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that this was alcohol and/or drug related. But who knows. Either way, it’s a good reminder – don’t drink and drive, people! 

All I can say is this dude got damn lucky. That, or he’s a Hollywood stunt driver. But I’m leaning towards the luck theory.  


Tonight I love designated drivers. If you can’t find one, be one. :)