It's Been 5 Years Since Our Trauma - Now What?
Our trauma anniversary is September 14th. This past month marked 5 years since that day from hell was thrust upon us. Each year has brought different reactions, different experiences, and different coping skills. The second and third years were the worst for me. Last year was just ok. But this year...this anniversary was different (and maybe my most calm one yet). I mean every year I try to go with the flow and not pay too much attention to the calendar but as anyone who has experienced trauma knows, the body keeps score.
I didn't take the day off of work this year. I let my coworkers know that it was coming up in case I needed to take some time that day or to just let them know that if I didn't seem like myself that week, there was probably a very real reason as to why. The day came and went. There were small moments of anxiety, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts. But mostly, I was able to get through the day without any major setbacks.
And when I took time to reflect on how that day went compared to past years, I was able to come up with a list of reasons as to why I think it went as well as it did.
1. It's been 5 years. I've said it before and I still believe it - time doesn't heal wounds. But it allows us to grow around them. Each year I learn a little bit more about myself. Each year I grow around this wound that was left behind. And as I continue to grow, as I get just a little further from the wound, the pain gets just a little bit weaker. The pain never goes away, but it's weaker most days. I'm thankful for that.
2. I've come to terms with the fact that I can stand tall, stand proud in telling my story. I used to fear what others might think of my sharing. Afraid that people might think of it as attention seeking or purposely not moving on. The thing is, if I hadn't of started sharing, I'm not sure I would have ever been able to start moving forward in healing. The people that have taken the time to not only read my words, but who have reached out after and thanked me...it never ceases to bring me to tears. To know that another spouse out there might not feel so isolated or alone in their journey because I took a step 3 years ago to share mine means everything.
That brings me to my next point.
3. Sharing is healing. At least it is for me. The connections I have made with people that have come from this blog are nothing short of amazing to me. When you can be made to feel like someone else knows exactly what you are thinking, feeling, and/or experiencing, it is so validating. I've written before on this blog how validation was really the first step in this healing journey for me. Whether it's coming from someone in my inner circle, a stranger who happens to follow my Instagram account, or someone I meet at a conference and have an immediate bond for life with, that connection is indescribable (yet here I am trying to describe it).
You cannot heal alone. I know there are people out there who will say fuck that and I don't need anybody else. But you do - you truly do. When the days feel so heavy that you honestly don't know how you'll get through it, you need your village around you to help carry the load. When you get so in your own head with the self doubt, the hyper-vigilance, and the negative self talk, you need your people around you to change the narrative.
4. There will be days that feel like absolutely garbage. It's OK. I promise. It might not feel like it's going to be ok - but it is. Set backs, bad days, whatever you want to call them, are part of the journey. What matters more is that once we are able to move out of the bad day, we keep moving forward. Healing is not linear.
5. You can't heal until you are ready. It took me 3 years before I said "Hey - I think I am not ok". It took me 4 years to find a therapist that I had a good fit with. I tried going to therapy a couple of times before that but I never went back...I wasn't ready.
You can have all the tools, strategies, supports, and resources all around you. But until you are the one to say "Ok let's get started", no progress can be made. And that's ok. I hate when I see shit on social media saying things like you're wasting your life by not striving for healing every single day. I think that is a dangerous narrative. Some days might look like major progress is happening. But then something can come totally out of left field and just shove you back 5 steps. That sucks. And it's hard to navigate because you'll feel like you were doing so well. Some days are for healing. Others are just for surviving. And it's my personal opinion that both are ok.
I know that each year I get a little bit stronger. I get a little bit braver. And the person that I am now just keeps growing a little bit more around that wound day after day.
So now what? Nothing. I'm not doing anything differently. I'm going to keep reaching out to my village when I hit a day where I can't do it on my own. I'm going to keep sharing and connecting with others who can relate to my journey or who are looking to find someone on a similar journey to them. I'm going to keep giving myself the grace to move through this process in an ungraceful manner. Because really, I'm just making it up as I go.
Today is World Mental Health Day. On this day, and every day, I chose to share my story so that it might find just one person who will feel seen by reading my words.
Be kind and take care of one another,