I haven’t felt fully myself for several months now. I’m still me, just a slightly off-key version of me.
This summer, I experienced some trauma. The physical recovery was grueling, and is still ongoing, but it’s clear that the emotional recovery is the harder of the two recoveries. Since July, I’ve struggled with periods of debilitating anxiety and moments of sheer panic. What used to be routine outings have become special ops missions: I have to emotionally prepare to go to friends’ homes, I have to read my courage-meter when committing to any outdoor events, and I have to be on high alert when I go for hikes or walks.
There are days when I feel brave and grounded, and others when I feel absolutely weak-kneed and cowardly. A certain noise, an instagram, or a scene in a movie can either leave me feeling confident I’m healing or completely panicked. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or rhythm as to what can trigger the panic or lack of panic.
Maybe that’s what makes healing so hard. It’s unpredictable. And unrelenting. And sometimes seemingly endless.
I’ve struggled to give myself permission to heal. I’m typically more of a “suck it up” kind of girl, especially when it comes to personal standards. Some days I feel totally silly and weak and I want to tell myself to “just get over it”. But thus far, that hasn’t been possible for me.
Over the last few months, I’ve found myself feeling more defeated than determined. I’m quicker to give up or not even try things at all. And that’s not me. At least that’s not the old me. And I hope it’s not the future me.
Over the last few months I’ve also felt more attuned to my own pain and issues than the greater pain and issues in my community and the world. I’m not indifferent, I’m just tired from fighting my own battles that I don’t have as much energy for others’ battles. And that’s not me. At least it’s not the old me. And I hope it’s not the future me.
Because I haven’t felt completely myself lately, I haven’t had a lot of my own words to share, so I’ve been taking in others’ words. Reading has been a nice reprieve from my inner dialogue.
I just finished the Divergent trilogy and one of the last paragraphs in the final book left me sobbing; not necessarily for the plot line, but for the truth that was contained in the words for me for this season:
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known , or everyone you have ever loved for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.”
Bravery looks different for me this year than it has in years past. And I have hope that bravery will look different for me in future years than it does now.
For now, bravery looks like admitting weakness and fear. For now, it looks like knowing when to face fears and when to take breaks from fear-facing. For now, bravery looks like not worrying about what others’ will think about my courage or lack thereof. For now, it looks like being ok with not being ok.
For now, bravery looks like healing .
To those who have experienced great trauma and repeated trauma, this post by no means compares my experience to yours. I am so very sorry that you have experienced horror, fear, and injustice. I hate that there are triggers that re-traumatize you. My struggles to cope with my own experience cause me greater compassion for those who have experienced greater trauma. I cannot imagine the bravery it takes for you to face each day. I applaud you.