These are difficult words for me to write: I lied about what happened yesterday. The road did turn into a parking lot. I did spy a car crest the hill behind me as I crept into an impenetrable fog alongside a semi.
But I never "braced for impact," as I first wrote.
So as not to be branded a liar, I replaced "braced" with the more accurate "readied." However, in clear violation of The Trivialities of Deportment as Required by the Guardians of Best Online Society, I made this emendation silently. There's no indication that the word "readied" occupies the space originally reserved for "braced."
Why'd I do this, and why am I telling you about it?
The title of this post is an awful pun grounded in the reality of traumatic experience. Talking to the wife last night, I remembered that after the car crested I'd remembered reading that human bodies are more likely to survive brutal demonstrations of differential inertia when they go slack. After I remembered that, I relaxed my neck and attempted a deep breath before the sedan changed course. I did what is rightly called the opposite of bracing: I made like an abandoned marionette and begged the Laws of Physics to commute the inevitable. When the sedan buzzed by, I was draped limp on the driver's seat awaiting a cascade of concussive pains as my car endeavored to save my life.
Why am I telling you this? Because people who deal with people like me for a living have told me to control what I can control. I can't stop the sudden intrusion of the inexplicably awful into previously pleasant dreams, but I can edit the written account of the experience responsible for the trespass. I understand that violations of decorum in the name of therapy might offend the finely-wrought sensibilities of some of you, but I currently value my mental health more than my reputation. (Without the former I could never rehabilitate the latter.)
Not that I'm worried. My shudder of a pun describes a process I'm not ashamed of being victimized by. The unintentional stuttering of memory results in nonfictional lies . . . in moments misremembered as time dilates in expectation of bright death. They're the pare shavings trauma whittles from memory and they are inevitable. In order to nonfictionalize that post, I'll need to replace some nonfictional lies with others, and the thought of being called out on account of altering inconsequential details is too much to bear right now.
I'm not changing my story: I'm nonfictionalizing it.
To give another example, when I said I was listening to NPR when I noticed the car, I think I maybe lied. I didn't think I had until when I was talking to my brother and let slip that I'd been listening to Big Star's "Life is White" when I noticed the other car. Given that I couldn't have been listening to NPR and a track from Radio City at the same time, I suppose I must have lied when I said that in my panic I'd ignored the former's chatter. I must've been listening to Big Star when it happened.
But on the way to campus today, I received an autonomic knee to the nuts followed by a fulsome horripilative event and had to slam the stereo silent and pull over. What brought it on?
The violence of the dueling floor toms didn't do it: it was the frank beauty of its soaring midsection that primed me for fighting or alighting. I turned the stereo back on and restarted the song and was awash in fresh panic again. I think my body might be remembering something I don't . . . or it might be another nonfictional lie I need to process.
I can't say. But it feels more true tonight, and if it still does come morning, I'll edit the post to better reflect the reality I'm presently remembering.