Trauma is a beast. Sometimes, life is sailing along, some waves here and there but your hard work has paid off and you are somehow O.K. with the waves. You have learned new coping skills, processed a ton of grief, worked on anger and forgiveness and replaced unhealthy relationships and habits with new, healthy ones. Life is good now you think.
Until it isn’t.
Until Christmas hits and the general business of the holiday means your self-care slides. You ignore the nightmares that are happening again because you can brush them off in the morning. Your eating habits become rather disturbing and sleep isn’t really in your vocabulary anymore. You brush that off, everyone eats bad around the holidays and I don’t need sleep, look how much I am getting done. Big stressors start heaping on, health problems with your beloved pup, kids having some pretty major issues, one at a time so it’s not so bad right? Coldest winter in awhile and the cost of heating your home has almost doubled. Big, amazing, awesome steps are happing in your romantic life and it’s awesome and SO SCARY. But it’s awesome, right? You look around and notice the waves are pretty intense now. Hmmm, when did that happen?
You make a commitment to re-evaluate your self-care and make some changes to help the kids who are struggling. Whew! Nipped that trauma spiral in the bud. The only problem is you now have a pretty big internal deficit instead of reserves and the wave that is coming, it is a big one and you cannot possibly see it coming, so there is no time to prepare yourself. Out of left field, you read the transcribed voicemail in a meeting at work.
“Mama, I checked myself into a psych ward after I tried to commit suicide a few days ago. (can’t understand several sentences through the tears my son was crying) I Love you.”
I lost all ability to feel and went into pure robot mode. I couldn’t feel. If I allowed myself to feel, it would be bad. I felt like I should be feeling a ton of things but I couldn’t. The feelings tried to surface but were quickly squashed so I could get the heck out of work and find out what happened. The next few days are a blur. I do remember driving to the hospital the next morning though. Right down the road that I traveled for a year to visit my ex-husband and a different son while they were in rehab for their sexual addictions. The rehab that didn’t work, for either of them. The rehab they graduated from and both promptly relapsed for extended periods of time. The relapse that led to my son moving several states away for another rehab and the relapse that ended my marriage. I remember walking into the hospital the next morning. The hospital where another child spent 12 days in the psychiatric unit for depression, in the height of my marriages’ chaos and trauma. The hospital where my ex-husband’s mistress worked.
My son is physically fine and getting help. The final straws in my son’s spiraling life can be fixed. The car can be repaired, the legal problems can be handled, the emotional damage can be worked through. My son is physically fine and getting help. There is only one way to go when you are at the bottom and that is up.
I essentially lost a few days again, thanks to trauma. Symptoms I haven’t seen in many months are back. I thought I was good, I thought I was stable. Then trauma reminded me how powerful it can be and reminded me that it will not be ignored. I didn’t relapse into my own addiction and I have enough time in recovery to know it is time to get some more help. While I do that, I probably won’t be online much. I am still here though, doing what I would suggest you do in this situation, taking care of myself and my family. Trauma is often so loud it is deafening but healing is the quietest thunder you will ever hear.