One year ago today I had a rather unfortunate encounter with a large amount of water. Remembering that today is the anniversary of the Toowoomba floods was less uncomfortably surprising than receiving an invitation to appear on Today-Tonight, as happened about a week before Christmas, but nevertheless it has played on my mind in a less-than-welcome way.
At this time on January 10th of 2011 I was back at home after washing ants out of my underwear at my grandparents’ house (recently sold), and spent the night unable to sleep due to increasingly awful alternative scenarios (to what actually occurred) played themselves out in my mind. This was the beginning of a long period where some part of me was convinced that actually it was so very unlikely that I had survived, and I had in fact died and just somehow not noticed it. Very unsettling… My little “solipsistic episode”, Liam would say! The media coverage of “my story” (which was hijacked by some guy that claimed to have rescued me, when in actual fact I climbed out of the water absolutely by myself) didn’t help my sense of warped reality. Of course my brilliant imagination for disaster scenarios was quite dramatically intensified by the whole experience, and it is something I am struggling to control still now.
Another phenomena of the mind which I experienced was the very strong feeling that, as it would appear that I had not died, I now needed to have some kind of epiphany and greatly increased willpower to really live my life. As this did not occur, and my life continued, not unchanged so much as without the changes I was hoping might materialise, I became rather bitter about it all. What was the point, I wondered, of being put through such terror and stress if I didn’t come out somehow stronger? (Incidentally, while I was in the water and fairly certain I was going to die, I didn’t have any flashes-before-my-eyes of my life to that point. Instead I was thoroughly pissed off about missing out on the future – I was, I thought, going to be really quite good and do some interesting things in my life!) That kind of thinking might be indicative of a lingering belief in some kind of higher power (fate, judgement, etc.)… difficult to eradicate!
Anyway, I have been thinking today, and perhaps the fact that I did not have such a life-changing experience might actually indicate that I was on the right track all along. After all, with all my propensity toward guilt, I didn’t find myself rejecting any part of my pre-flood self or finding some new good to embody. I simply hoped I would suddenly do what I was already doing, but better. So my reward is simply knowing that I was getting it right already. It’s doesn’t feel like much, given the months of trauma and post-traumatic stress, but hey.