I was gone for several years, recovering from a trauma I’m frankly surprised I survived. It was my Armageddon. Oh, I wasn’t ACTUALLY gone; in fact I was here and worked harder than ever. It was a figurative absence. Someone told me yesterday that I survived, to which I replied, “I’m surviving“. The recovery is ongoing, as anyone who has experienced evil and trauma together can surely understand. I curled up in a ball and withdrew from the world to the greatest extent I could, reaching out only to the extent I needed to for my jobs…plural; there are three of them…and to my new church family.
The aftermath of traumatic stress is hugely underrated in the lay world. Medical professionals get it: they understand the reason we can drive for two hours and not remember a single mile of the trip. They understand why many personal relationships are killed off by the ‘event’, whatever it was. They understand why once close relationships end. It’s ALL about pain and suffering, the inability of the average person to understand the magnitude of what the affected person is experiencing and how long that experience really lasts, and the collateral damage that ensues. Trauma is called trauma for a reason; it’s not called a quick picnic.
My clients didn’t know the face they saw and the person with whom they dealt was a business persona, operating on mental skills and pure determination to survive. They didn’t know it wasn’t me. No big deal. They got great customer service…even though I can’t remember a lot of it. They were okay with ‘me’. But the people I knew before my world ended drew their own conclusions about ‘what happened to me’, and nobody…not one…got it right. Some of them decided they didn’t like me and honestly, why would they? It wasn’t me. Still, regardless of erroneous assessments and unqualified judgments of my behavior, I lost touch with a lot of people who once mattered to me, who were cornerstones. Yesterday I reconnected with one of them, and I was reminded what joy feels like.
I hadn’t seen my friend for years, even though she has been one of the most important people in my life since I met her. I thought about her nearly every day, but was completely hesitant to reach out to her…for many the reasons I just mentioned. Yesterday I had a chance to see her, and I’m still smiling. And what’s more, I’m glad I was able to meet her again; that’s a huge step in the healing process.
It’s odd how trauma effects you; you tend to experience a distorted perception of time. I expected her to look different, because after all, there was Armageddon and I’m sure it lasted at least fifty years (really four so far). But she looked the same, as beautiful as always. I was reminded real time isn’t distorted by trauma; it’s only the time in the heart of the person who experienced trauma. Okay, so now I have one more ‘healing’ data point: time is passing at a normal clip and I’m okay with that.
I wrote about having the best friends in the world, and I do. I met a new set of friends after Armageddon, all of whom I cherish. I wrote that all of them, every single one, are worth the trauma I experienced. And now, for some reason unknown to me, I feel strong enough to reconnect with some of my friends from the past. That’s called healing, surviving.
There are still heartaches and regrets about some of the broken bonds, but I am learning to accept those, and even realize that some of those bonds weren’t really bonds at all. And I’m okay with that. But I have hope…now that’s new for post Armageddon me…that the bonds which were true and real, will also be restored.
Anyway, Es, it gave me great joy to see you again.