Flashback

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Gunshot, completed suicide, some gore, violence on TV.

This is one of my longer ones.

I’ve been having horrible flashbacks the last few days.

Remembering the moments and hours and days after he died.

Remembering that first post I wrote.

Gunshots are less of a bang and more of a pop.

And the thing is, that sound is so loud that it sucks the rest of the sound out of the air.

Like a vacuum.

Emptiness where the everyday sounds of life were existing a split second before.

That pop is no longer so loud in my head, but the silence afterwards is there.

I remember the police swabbing my hands.

Just a formality, the calm, gentle woman in front of me had said.

I’m remembering the next day,

my sister scrubbing brain matter and blood out of the carpet.

The carpet cleaner bringing in a jug of chemicals especially meant to remove blood.

I remember him asking if Dad had fell, prying for information about what happened.

The mess could have been worse.

Much worse.

And the flashbacks have been coming more and more.

Yesterday, while trying to distract myself from them, we drove to do some errands.

Some window shopping.

We went through an area of the city that smells like oil.

But in my brain the strong smell reminded me of gun powder.

The way that smell filled the entire house a few minutes after he was gone.

Wonder Woman has been watching a violent drama on TV.

We share a common space, with my back to the black square with moving pictures and loud sounds.

I mostly block it out.

Sometimes I wear headphones.

Lately I’ve been getting sucked into the drama.

I really don’t like this show.

But the storyline is interesting and it draws me in.

Yesterday there was a scene where a character was shot at close range.

The screen blacked out the moment the gunshot happened.

Luckily they didn’t show the aftermath.

And the gunshots don’t sound at all like the one that ripped through the air the last moment he was alive.

I don’t think the TV can capture that sound anyway.

Or that absence of sound after the shot rings out.

I wonder if the TV show is contributing to the violence I see in my head.

But we share a common space.

We spend a lot of time coexisting in the same area.

It’s hard to ask her to pick something else when there wouldn’t be much time to binge this particular show.

There isn’t much alone time in these covid times.

And I’m not sure I really want her to watch something else.

There’s comfort in the normality of the types of shows she watches.

In that background sound.

And I can always put on headphones.

But I feel like headphones put up a wall between us.

It’s hard.

When the flashbacks come I try to box them up,

tape them up tightly,

stick them up on the shelf inside my mind.

It helps.

Yesterday when they were particularly strong, I wrapped the boxes in brown paper.

I stuck them on the highest shelf.

I padlocked the closet door.

They stayed quiet just a little bit longer.

But in the back of my mind,

I still see that coagulated stream of blood,

hanging off of the front of the wheelchair.

Images that don’t want to leave.

Images that won’t leave me alone.

Seriously,

Fuck Him.

Sleep

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I feel so so much better.

Except I don’t.

I’m sleeping too much.

Way too much.

And I’m having a hard time getting myself into the shower.

But my dishes are done.

Meals are planned around food we already had in the freezer.

I’m cooking more often.

My kitchen still isn’t clean.

Clean pots and pans are stacked on a stove that is covered in crumbs and spills.

But the dishes are done regularly, and that’s a big deal.

The spices sit all unorganized on the counter instead of in the cabinet (where they no longer fit anyway).

The bottles are spilling over onto the stove.

The kitchen is kind of a disaster, honestly.

But I’m finding more joy in my activities.

I’m leaving the house regularly.

I’m brushing my teeth.

Things that I shouldn’t feel like I deserve an award for, but I do.

Because they are hard.

Hard, hard.

I feel like PHP is at the end of its usefulness.

But I also don’t feel,

healed.

But I’m not sure I’m going to continue healing in PHP.

I’m not sure I need that to keep moving forward anymore.

I’ve come a long way since the day the silence was broken by a gunshot.

I’ve healed so much.

And now it just feels like the

normal depression is still holding me back.

But I’m not sure what to fill my time with if I’m not doing PHP.

My boss isn’t ready to bring me back to work, he has his own stuff going on that needs to be straightened out before he can rehire me.

I don’t want to look for another job because I need the flexibility that came from working for family.

I need the level of understanding that came with that job.

The ability to take a day off here, and work extra hours there.

Or just take a day off without making the hours up.

I need the boss that checked in to make sure I was still doing okay.

That there wasn’t too much piling up

(even though there normally was).

I miss working, and I’m ready to go back.

But what do I do if I’m not working, and I’m not doing PHP.

I did that for years, and I can’t remember what it was like.

I feel like it’s existing without purpose.

It’s a big deal that I’m not ready to go back to nothingness.

It’s a big deal that I need something to occupy my time.

For years I was happy existing with no structure.

No ebb and flow to my days.

Nothing but doctors appointments that seemed to never end.

But now I’m afraid to leave the program behind without having something to take its place.

I have grown so much over the years.

And that day the silence was broken by a gunshot knocked me down a few steps.

But I feel like I’m finally climbing up to the top.

Day 14

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve been working on cards all day.

Slept in and then jumped right in finishing cards I started yesterday.

I got tired of being in the house so I left for a drive alone out to a Starbucks (duh) that was further away than my normal one.

I just wanted to be out of the house.

That’s an improvement.

Now to get myself back to walking.

But it’s getting better.

Slowly.

Too slowly.

But I need to be patient.

I don’t really have much to write about today. But I’m 14 days in and I’d hate to miss a day now.

My machine is cutting a material that has to be cut at a low speed.

Normally it’s loud and almost jarring, but right now it’s a musical rhythm. Calming, soothing.

Makes me want to go to sleep. But it’s too late for a nap, too early for bed.

I’ve been tired all day.

But also restless.

And somewhat creative, but I’m getting bored of that.

Not really sure what to work on next that will interest me.

I’m still blah.

But it’s getting better.

Slowly.

Too slowly.

But I need to be patient.

I’ve been having more flashbacks about my dad.

Memories of the week he was home.

Getting frustrated with him for making my job harder.

For being so fucking stubborn.

Fucking asshole.

And every memory ends with the gunshot.

I keep packing them away in my virtual box.

Taping it closed and putting it on the shelf.

It helps for a little while, but inevitably it comes back.

Another memory from that week.

Another gunshot.

It will get better.

Slowly.

Too slowly.

But I need to be patient.

Healing takes time.

Day 4

This is a Really Real Widow post.

I don’t feel like it’s a big deal this year.

I mean, her being gone is always a big deal. She left a hole in a lot of people’s hearts.

But this year her birthday isn’t ripping that hole bigger. Maybe it’s just because so much else is going on.

But today I went and bought cheesecake.

Tonight I’ll get on video chat with our son and talk about her life.

That’s a tradition I hope to continue each year. A few moments remembering the wonderful person she was.

So many memories are slipping away.

The sound of her voice rarely comes to me anymore.

I no longer remember her smell.

I have one shirt of hers left that I wear regularly, but it doesn’t hold the emotion that it once did.

I did intentionally take it with me to the trauma unit though. So I guess there’s so emotion left in it.

She spent her last birthday in the hospital, the psych unit, because of a change in medications that left her reacting violently to me.

She even raised her fist, which was the moment she decided to check in. She was there for almost 2 weeks.

I had balloons and decorations on the walls when she came home. A belated birthday celebration.

A belated celebration of her.

She was dead before her next birthday came around.

I can’t remember how old she would be now. I’m sure I could reach back in my memories to remember what year she was born and do the math, but that doesn’t seem important anymore.

Her mother still sends me the occasional Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe. It’s my favorite cake. She would bake it for my birthday every year.

We talk for a few moments about life and how we are doing.

A superficial conversation that still leaves much unsaid.

I’m sure today is hard for her. I can’t imagine what it’s like to celebrate the birthday of your child that is no longer with you.

I hope I never experience that loss.

I just sent her mother a message. Letting her know that she was in my thoughts. Another small connection between two people who were left with holes in our hearts when she died.

She is missed. She is loved.

I wish she had lived to see the better side of life. The life where the lights don’t get shut off and we aren’t in fear of an eviction notice.

The life where there’s enough food in our cabinets.

The life where there’s even an occasional vacation.

I still wonder if we ever would have seen this life together.

Or if we would have always struggled.

Today isn’t as hard as it used to be, but it’s still hard.

I still miss her.

Home Sweet Home

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s been far too long since I’ve put fingers to keys for one of my regular posts. I’ve been home for ~36 hours and it feels like days and days and days. So many things that I missed that are right at my fingertips again.

Typing was one of those things.

I wrote every day while I was inpatient, multiple times a day. Working out of 2 composition books. One for my regular journaling, and one for daily goals and assignments.

So many assignments.

I think I should continue the practice of setting daily goals. These weren’t meant to be “laundry list” items, or things that we were expected to do as part of our treatment, but it was more for goals of what to work on for healing. Practicing certain skills, or doing internal checks on safety, feelings and grounding.

Considering that I only ended up being there for 2 weeks, I got so much out of it. I can’t decide if I’m glad it was this short, or if I wished it would have been longer.

I am glad to be home though.

I spent most of today crafting. Cutting out so many pieces of cardstock for the holiday cards I’m making this year. I don’t have enough time to do individualized cards for each person, so I’m batch making 4 or so of each style. I have 8 pages of addresses, with more to come.

So many cards.

And I’m so thankful that I have all of these people in my life. So many people that I can spread joy to, through crafting.

And it keeps my hands and my mind busy.

Staying busy, distracted but grounded, is a big part of my healing. Letting myself think enough to process whatever is going on, but not so much that I ruminate and get into trouble.

At this point it’s been weeks without suicidal thoughts and while I don’t fool myself into thinking that they are gone forever, it’s a nice break, and I have more tools to handle them when they come up.

I didn’t really have a goal in mind when I started writing today, I just miss the routine of putting words on the screen.

I miss this sort of processing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to journaling with pen and paper, but it hurts my hands so much that I can’t fully focus on what I’m trying to get out. My entries end up being short and choppy, with horrible handwriting that is difficult to read.

Tomorrow starts NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where people try to write X number of words in the month of November. Basically finishing an entire book in one month. It’s quite the commitment and not something I’m interested in doing, but in the past I’ve spent the month of November writing one post a day, as my own modified challenge.

I’m trying to decide if I want to do that again this year.

Writing just for the sake of writing can go both ways. Sometimes I end up with incredible posts that let me do some deep introspection that I didn’t even know I needed. Other times I’m just putting words on the screen with no real direction, no real topic, no real beginning or end.

Kind of like this one.

Grief

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Completed Suicide Mentioned. Gun Violence Mentioned.

I was just laying in bed, starting to doze off, mind still wandering.

And I thought of my dad.

Now, this isn’t strange anymore. The latest brain trains have lead me down a road where I think of something about caring for my dad.

Transferring him from bed to chair, or him screaming “Mom” wanting to get out of bed in the middle of the night, or cooking shrimp for him in a way that I never would have thought of.

And that thought is followed immediately by a “pop” and a blurry image of him dead in his wheelchair.

I think of him a lot. Sometimes it fucks with my brain, sometimes it’s just a passing intrusive thought.

But this time was different.

I thought of my dad back when I was young.

The dad that I worshipped.

This time I thought about the times in between the abuse.

I thought about the times that we went crabbing.

The times that I really looked up to him, like when they called him in to teach navigation to my boating class.

The times when he was so proud of me, like when I passed that exam.

The times when we would sit behind his friend’s Florida time share, when he would grill hamburgers (until they were flat, dry, pucks of meat) and heat beans up in the can.

That time that he took me on a plane to some random airport, just to turn around and fly back home, because I had never been on a plane but I always watched as either he or my adult sister would leave on a flight.

I have lots of good memories with him.

And then I realized. I’m not grieving the loss of him. I don’t care that he’s gone.

I remember having a conversation with my sister. We both wondered out loud how we would react to his death.

I was ready to walk away from my relationship with him, but I felt I would regret it when he died and I didn’t want to feel guilty for another death (heh).

But I figured, no matter how little I felt towards him when he was alive, I’d grieve him when he was gone.

And obviously, as time would tell, I felt a great deal towards him. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done what I did.

But still. I’m not grieving the loss of him.

A very, very, horrible, person is no longer in this world. He can no longer treat me like “less than,” he can no longer treat anyone that way.

And he treated everyone that way.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I am grieving the lost of my stability.

I am grieving the addition of another trauma to my history.

But I’m not grieving his death.

Even those good memories ended by the time I was 14. Once I had an actual mind of my own, my opinion was no longer tolerated. It wasn’t about building a relationship in between the abuse anymore.

It was just about shutting me down and reminding me to stay in my place.

Maybe not directly.

But by judging me so harshly, and making sure I knew it.

By calling me “butch” constantly when I cut my hair short, even though I had no idea what that meant. (I wonder how he felt when he realized he was right.)

By pointing out every thing I did wrong. Making sure I remembered it.

By making sure I remembered how often he was right. And it didn’t matter what the truth was, he was ALWAYS right.

By throwing things and yelling when I stepped out of line.

By doing the same just because something around us went wrong.

I don’t grieve the loss of him.

Actually, I celebrate it.

And I almost,

almost,

feel guilty for that.

But, fuck him. He spent long enough hurting me.

He hurt me with his final fucking action.

With his final selfish thought.

He doesn’t get to hurt me through grief, too.

Our goal is to live so someone actually gives a shit when we die.

And very few people give a shit about him.

Awoken with a bang

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Gun Shots. Mention of Completed Suicide. Mention of Suicidal Thoughts.

It really sucks when my brain awakens me from a deep sleep with a bang.

For a moment after waking I’m dazed, confused, scared. I know I just heard the gunshot, but I’m safe in my bed, we have no guns here. It was just a memory.

I’m too awake to sleep now, but I’m too afraid to leave my bed.

I cuddle in against Wonder Woman, holding her tightly, hoping the contact between us makes the sound go away.

She stirs to ask me if I’m okay and offers to turn some lights on in the house, to make it a bit easier to get out of bed.

I appreciate it, but also hate that my trauma woke her up as well.

We’re leaving for vacation today, a vacation I’m having a hard time being excited about. I feel like this is just going to follow me, and I don’t want it to ruin an area that was so peaceful for me last year.

I turn on music and start working on the dishes. I hear a sound, like a tiny pop, and I search for the origin.

The cat is playing in a bag, and crinkled it just enough to spook me.

I watch her play for awhile, frustrated that so many sounds remind me of that one fatal shot.

Last night we went out for modified Parking Lot Beers with some derby people. It’s tradition to stomp on the cans and rate them, seeing who can get the perfect smash.

I ask them to warn me before crushing cans. I hold my hands over my ears.

They stop crushing cans, waiting until I make a run to the bathroom to continue with their game.

Damn it, my trauma got in the way of someone else’s fun.

I spent most of yesterday in bed. Ready to give up this god awful fight.

I’m tired.

So so tired.

This is a marathon again, riding the waves and trying to keep up. Trying to heal from yet another blow.

Afraid that I’ll just get hit again.

Mad because there’s no rhyme or reason. I didn’t do anything to deserve this.

I almost wish I had done something wrong, because then there would be an answer to “Why me? Why again?”

Today feels better so far. Even though it started with a bang. I feel productive, I’m out of bed, I have coffee in hand.

Coffee=Life

When all else fails, give me a coffee and I can fight a little longer.

I forgot the sweetener in my coffee this morning, again. I’ve done it so many times that I almost like the bitter taste.

I remember when I had a bit of coffee with my sugar. Over time I’ve grown to like the taste of pure coffee though.

Over time I’ve gotten used to previous traumas and I’ll get used to this one as well.

Over time.

It’ll just take some time.

Creepy Dreams

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Completed Suicide. Mention of Suicidal Thoughts. Mention of a Gory Dream.

After a pretty good day or so, last night and this morning were rough.

Yesterday my therapist had to cancel on me. I totally understood why, her dog is sick and ended up in the pet ER. While I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at the situation. The anger, which is becoming familiar, boiled up inside me. It’s likely that she won’t be able to see me until I get back from vacation, and it had already been almost 2 weeks since she had seen me.

This was just crappy timing.

I laid in bed for awhile, suicidal thoughts running in and out of my brain.

I felt ridiculous. There was no reason for this sort of reaction to such a minor thing. I have group therapy as part of the partial hospitalization program, almost daily. It doesn’t bother me that I’ll be missing THAT during vacation, why did it bother me so much to go an extra week without my individual therapy.

But anger is just part of my response to almost everything right now. And judging myself for the anger was part of what brought along the suicidal thoughts.

After calming down some I went for a walk with my friend. It was a short walk, after taking a few days off due to my stomach issues, I had no stamina again. But it helped.

Being active always helps.

I cooked Pho for dinner. We used boxed broth and pre-sliced meat which made it a super easy meal, but right now it’s one of my favorites.

I went to bed early, I was so tired and couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

Even with the nightmare medication, the nightmare started almost immediately. It wasn’t about my dad this time. However, it was weird and twisting and reminded me of an episode of Dexter, a show that I never really watched but heard in the background for months as Parker worked her way through the seasons.

I woke up, and when I fell back to sleep I was in the middle of the same series of events.

People being killed and different ways to hide their bodies. Graphic visions of dismembering bodies and removing fingerprints. It was so gory and every time it felt like it would end, someone else would end up dead.

I woke myself up a few times, falling back into the same dream as soon as I closed my eyes.

I woke up at 2 am with a blinding headache. I got up and took some meds, staying awake until Wonder Woman was ready to go to bed, I couldn’t handle being alone with that nightmare anymore.

I think I got a couple of hours of decent sleep before the nightmare started again. I would toss and turn and fall back asleep right into the same dream, over and over and over again.

At least it wasn’t about my dad.

This morning when I woke up to use the restroom I was panicked. Alone felt horrifying, the bathroom was filled with the sound of gunshots.

I went back to bed, at least Wonder Woman was there and I wouldn’t be alone.

Every time I dozed I was back in the same nightmare, but laying awake was panicky and filled with anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed to come to the living room. I felt again like I’d be blindsided from every angle.

It was rough.

Finally I woke Wonder Woman up and asked if she would get up with me, I couldn’t handle being alone anymore.

I felt so guilty for disturbing her sleep but the alternative was seemingly impossible.

We cuddled for awhile before getting up and leaving the house. Lunch at a new-to-me restaurant, outside on their patio. Stopping into a few stores looking for a longer leash for the dog on our vacation.

Of course we went for coffee.

Now we are back home. Going into the bedroom to get changed back into my around the house clothes was anxiety provoking. And the bathroom seems to be the perfect place for flashbacks.

I still have a headache, the same one from last night. It is just below the surface, peeking up occasionally to remind me that it’s there.

But it felt good to be out of the house for a bit. Writing has helped me get more of the anxiety out. Hopefully I can catch a nap today without the same dream coming back to haunt my sleep.

Some days are good, other days are hard, and I’m just here riding the waves.

Even the bad days aren’t quite as bad as they were.

And at this point I’m 2 sleeps from vacation. I’m looking forward to mountain views and animals that roam the property where we’ll be staying. I’m looking forward to walking back to the waterfall we saw last time we stayed in that area.

I’m looking forward to getting away.

Hopefully I can leave all of this behind for a few days as well.

Good Day, Loud Sound

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Suicidal Thoughts, Mention of Gun Shot, Mention of Completed Suicide, Some Gory Description.

Today was a really good day.

I got a few hours of halfway decent sleep before the tossing and turning began. Finally at 6 am I got up, instead of letting myself continue the cycle of dozing and tossing and dozing and turning.

Getting up early is good for me, when I can force myself out of bed before my alarm. It gives me the quiet early morning hours to do my morning routine, and on those mornings I even manage to do the dishes from the night before.

Generally, waking up that early just sets a good tone for the rest of the day.

But I can’t always do it.

This morning, however, I hopped up and got on with my day.

When I did morning check in for group, the leader mentioned how my mood seemed brighter. While we were going through the list and rating things, I realized that other than a quickly passing and easily brushed aside thought last night (while I was so angry), I hadn’t had any other suicidal thoughts in the past 24 hours.

Even last night’s anger didn’t last all that long, the edges softening before it fully took hold.

It’s been getting better. Both time passing, and the addition of Abilify has made me feel like my feet are on solid ground once again.

At least some of the time.

I’m able to be alone.

At least some of the time.

But the trauma is still there.

It’s always lurking just behind the shadows.

The quiet is the worst.

Today I was in the bathroom when the shot rang out in the back of my mind. I immediately smelled the gun powder.

This time, when I peeked around the corner I saw Wonder Woman sitting in the wheelchair.

I ran into our bedroom.

“I just need to see your face for a minute. It was you this time, it was you.”

She softly held eye contact with me and held my hand.

“It’s okay, we don’t have any guns in the house. It’s okay, I’m right here.”

I felt like I was on the verge of tears.

The gunshot was so loud, the smell of gun powder was so vivid. The gory image that followed looked so real.

As a whole, I don’t really see my father in the wheelchair when I have a flashback. There’s a fuzzy shadow where he was, I can’t quite recall what the blood looked like running from the front of his face.

Even though I know it was there.

I do remember his dog, pacing in front of him and looking scared.

The dog he was so happy to see when she came home 24 hours before.

The dog with the belly he was so happy he could reach from the wheelchair.

His selfish act traumatized her too.

Today has been a good day, with a bad moment.

It’s not a good day that turned bad, it was just a single moment.

I’m sure I will have other bad days. I’m sure I will have other suicidal thoughts. I’m sure there will be more days where I can barely stay out of bed. More days filled with a deep seated rage.

But I’ll focus on the days like today. The days where I craft and write and make tea.

The days where I plan to cook my current favorite meal for dinner.

Days like today give me hope again. Hope that I can get back to stability.

Hope that I am okay.

And I am, okay.

So Sleepy

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of gun violence and gore. Mention of suicide.

Apparently my posts are just going to keep being long for awhile. Thanks for hanging in there. And thanks for all of the kind words and support.

Sleeping at night is hard. Even with the new nightmare medication they started me on, I’m still awake constantly, tossing and turning and barely dozing off before tossing and turning again.

At least with the medications I’m not dreaming and ruminating of shots going off and bloody faces.

When the sun starts to come up I settle into sleep, which is broken when my alarm goes off to get ready for PHP.

I yawn with heavy eyes all through the first group, trying to catch a quick nap during the thirty minute break, before yawning through the second group.

I drink coffee, made at home. And some days I run out for a treat at Starbucks, to celebrate another day that I have survived.

I still yawn.

And the afternoon I often nap. Planned one hour naps that turn into two or three hours. It’s so much easier to sleep when the sun is up to keep me safe.

Of course, I know this is just perpetuating the problem. Sleeping during the day makes it harder to sleep at night, which makes it easier to sleep during the day.

I’m so so sleepy. Even writing this I’m yawning with eyes watering, wanting to climb in back in bed again.

And it’s not just the fact that I’m not sleeping at night.

Living with fresh trauma is exhausting. Working through trauma is exhausting.

With the addition of the Abilify to my medication I’m much less reactive, which is nice, but I’m still exhausted.

And still irritable. The smallest thing making me grumpy and agitated.

But that irritation is no longer filled with rage.

I talk in group therapy and others who follow me often say “What I’m going through doesn’t compare at all to your situation but . . . “

And that bothers me.

This isn’t a competition, anyone who is struggling is struggling for their own reasons, their fight isn’t less important or less strenuous than mine.

We talk about the underlying emotions that connect all of us. Fear, Sadness, Anger, Guilt, Shame.

Those emotions are the ties that connect each of our stories.

Sometimes, when we’re telling the story of our situation, the therapist will have us focus on the emotion that’s underneath of it. While someone may not be able to relate to their father shooting himself while they were in the next room, they may be able to relate to the guilt I feel for leaving him alone. Or the sadness I feel because I’ve experienced yet another trauma.

Often they relate to the shame of feeling like I’m too much, like my emotions and my tragedies take up too much room.

That’s a common theme in my therapy. Being too much. The group therapist in PHP is the same on that runs my once a week group, and is also a therapist I saw individually for a short time.

She can pick up immediately when the theme of my emotions is that shame of being too much.

She doesn’t try to fix it, neither does anyone else in the group, but just pointing out that the thread underneath it all is that feeling. That core belief.

It’s enough to show me that it’s still there, still something for me to work on.

Today, I was told by someone that they hope I can put this behind me and get on with my life.

I wish it was that simple.

I spent a lot of time after Parker’s death talking about how I will always move forward, but I will never move on.

And I think that stands true for most trauma as well. I will keep moving forward, I will keep healing, but there will never be a finish line, a line where I say, this is behind me.

The trauma of my abuse growing up still shows up when I make myself smaller after hearing harsh words or a violent scene in a movie. The trauma of poverty shows up when I spend money incorrectly, and then panic at a low balance or overdrawn bank account. The trauma of hearing my son scream in the back of an ambulance shows up when I recoil at the sound of a siren. The trauma of the house fire shows up when I strongly react to an unplanned smell of smoke, or panic when a smoke alarm goes off.

The trauma of Parker’s death is there when I check that a loved one is still breathing.

And the trauma of my father’s death will live on in its own way.

My reaction will decrease, my tolerance will gain traction.

And I will forever be resilient.

But I will never get over all of these scars, and so many more.

It’s no wonder that I’m tired. This trauma just brings with it, the rest. Just like a new grief will bring up the old ones.

I wonder why these difficult things always find me. Always land at my feet.

I don’t think there’s some grand reason, but it’s hard not to think that I’ve done something wrong to deserve it.

People talk of my resilience as one of my biggest strengths. But my resilience was forged out of necessity. I have to stand up one more time than I get knocked down, no matter how often I get knocked down.

And each time it’s both a little harder, and a little easier to stand back up.

It’s harder because I’m exhausted from repeating this same pattern, through no fault of my own.

But it’s easier because I’m just using muscles that I’ve already used. I know how to stand back up, I know what help to reach for, I know which parts I have to do on my own.

I know that the sleepless nights and the napping all day will pass.

I know I’ll get back to work eventually.

And I know I’m strong enough to do this again.

And there may be an again after this.

And after that.

And I will never be ready for it when it comes, it will always catch me off guard as trauma often does.

But I will always stand back up.