What a summer. Amidst the continuing existence of COVID, we managed to have a pretty great summer. And that was the goal. Time spent with friends and family. Swimming, laughing, staying up late, beating the heat, and making the memories. And now we are back at school (thank goodness) and work and lunch packing and all the things.
I love September. I love when the nights get a little cooler and the leaves start to change.
But I also dread September. Slowly, as those first days creep along, old feelings that I've worked hard at pushing away start marching back in.
On the first anniversary of "that day", we were in a different country, in an exciting city, and it was easy to just quickly acknowledge the day and continue on with our trip.
Because that day went by smoother than I thought it would, I expected the next year would be even easier. But I was wrong. We both went to work. And it was awful for me. I couldn't stop checking my phone and wanting to constantly check in with John. My hyper-vigilance and anxiety took over! I even spent my 40 minute lunch racing home to see if I could connect with him. I did and he was ok. And once I saw that he was...I was.
For the last three years I have been the gatekeeper. I have worked tirelessly making sure that my family was safe and protected. When you play the gatekeeper for so long, the strong one, the one with the constant smile, people forget that you've experienced the trauma. Or maybe that it's they haven't forgotten. Maybe it's that you've faked "being good" for so long they assume you are actually are good.
But I did experience the trauma. It wasn't the same trauma, obviously. But it was traumatic. It was definitely the worst day of my life.
I sat there for hours, surrounded by people, both family and strangers. I sat there for hours in my own daze. I sat there for hours wondering if I would have to figure out a way to tell our girls that their dad was dead. I sat there for hours replaying every hostage scene from every movie because as someone from the outside, that's all you know. I sat there for hours...terrified. I was trying to be brave, to be strong, to have faith. But in those moments, I felt like a failure because I struggled so hard to do any of those things.
It's not easy for me to say when I need help. It's not in my nature to show my weaknesses. To let people in when when I'm struggling. Especially when I feel like other people need to be the priority.
But now, three years later, I feel like I have been the gatekeeper long enough. I feel...no I know...that my family is going to be ok. I know that we have come out on the other side of this. It still isn't easy. There are still hard times. But we have come out on the other side. And we have seized moments and opportunities that we may not have before.
Because we are on the other side, because I feel like my family is safe, I can now acknowledge my trauma. I can now work through my trauma. I'll probably still be the gatekeeper. I'll just be a gatekeeper who is working through her shit at the same time.
This blog has been a big piece of that. But it's not enough anymore. I'm happy to have a found a therapist that I feel comfortable with that I can start sifting through things with.
I'm so thankful for all the love and support that has poured into all of us over the years; expected and unexpected. From long time friends and new found friends, bonded through overcoming trauma.
This life is hard. I'm still working on letting go of anger. I'm still working on forgiveness. But I'm so freaking thankful for this life and those I am blessed to share it with.
Thank you for everyone who comes here and reads my words.
Be kind to one another,