Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Now That's a First

If someone who had recently experienced a life altering trauma were to ask me to tell them one thing to expect Post-Trauma (or PT as I will call it), I would respond, "Everything will be completely different from here on in." I look at the world from different eyes now. I see things differently and react to things differently. Things even taste and smell a little differently. The best way I can describe it is that it is almost as though you woke up the next morning in an alternate universe where things are very subtly askew. But, in point of fact, it's you who is different. And, with your different self, you now experience everything as though you're experiencing it for the first time. Initially, those experiences tend to be all hard if not downright horrific, but as time wears on there are actually some small surprises that are actually pleasant, like the first time I genuinely laughed at something. I laughed, then caught what I was doing with a little shock. However, like little earthquakes, there are after shocks, and that first brief laugh carried a big after shock. The dip back down was fairly severe, as though I felt guilty for having a light moment and had to be self-punished for it. But, the next time it got a little easier, and I trust that the trend will continue until there finally comes a day when I feel no after shock at all. Or maybe I should say I hope that's the case.

At any rate, since everything is being done for the first time in this new PT world, I can't really say how I will react. I am completely unpredictable, even to myself. Being close to me must be quite the challenge these days, and for that I am sorry. I hope that I can at least re-learn about myself, but I think how I am right now is not how I will be once all of this has been processed and just becomes the scar I carry with me rather than the open wound, so there's no point in really getting to know myself too well at the moment because I am a work in progress. And, I'm not sure I would like what I saw right now anyway. Because, while I am a deep pool of patience for some things I might not have been before, I become highly agitated with other things that would not have even really caught my attention before. As an example, I waded in way too deep in a situation the other day where I wanted to impress something upon someone and they weren't getting my message, even though I felt I was being very direct. I, in the recent past, would have stepped quickly away, having said my piece and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. But, this time I didn't, nay couldn't, really do that. I kept engaging in the conversation, trying to make my point (which I never really did, by the way). Later, because I was very upset over the situation, I wondered why I became involved in the first place. I finally concluded that it was because I felt a particular life view I hold was important to impress on my friend (which is that sometimes you express regret even if you feel you have done nothing wrong simply because the other person is hurt or upset by your actions) because losing someone over something so easy to avoid is just plain tragic. Really, I wanted to save my non-recalcitrant friend from ever looking back on the situation with regret or a sense of loss. And, she hurt another friend, and that upset me as well. My passion about it completely caught me off guard. I had no idea I would feel that way. I think I felt I could avoid someone else having a loss, even if it was just the loss of a friendship. Silly maybe, but there it is. I think maybe I have to re-learn boundaries in this new world of mine as well.

However, I have run astray. The real point to all of this is I have to do everything I've been doing for years and years once more for the first time. I had the first time I went to the movies, the first wedding, the first funeral, the first concert, even the first time I went grocery shopping. Every little experience is now colored through a different lens. Some I have done often enough that a routine has formed once more, others are still a work in progress. I have pushed myself to keep getting back out there. I think of myself a bit like a TV detective trying to break down a door; I may get repelled back a few times, but I'll eventually break through, maybe a little battered and bruised from my trouble. Greg is more cautious about venturing back out into the world as much. I'm not sure which of us has the better plan. I may power my way back to some level of normalcy faster, but first I have to endure watching someone celebrate his 24th birthday and feel the ripples of emotion as a result that Greg has spared himself.

The big one I think everyone who has been through a life altering experience knows they will have to work through is that first holiday. Technically, for us, that came very quickly. July 4th was only a couple of weeks following Kelsey's death. And, it was odd and hard, I think we would all agree. We were completely out of sync with the rest of the world. While everyone was celebrating, we were still in deep shock. But, Independence Day is a low maintenance holiday for most of us. Maybe a picnic and some fireworks, but it's not the huge affair other holidays are. We got lobbed a softball for our fist PT holiday. Now we're expected to move on up to the Big Leagues. We are about to endure our first Holiday Season. And how, pray tell, are we to get through that?


  1. holding each others' hands, and with xanax.. not like last year, but you know what I mean.. trying to make light like I always do.
    We can do this. I don't know how, but we will.

  2. I will be thinking of you as always....