One thing that is impossible to avoid is the anniversary of our triggering event. Like clockwork, with the passing of each year, we must face at least one reminder. I’ve had the unpleasant reminder this month as a survivor, a friend, and a girlfriend, of exactly what anniversaries can do to everyone. Like each traumatic event can differ, the reaction of the reminder can vary vastly from one person to the next. Knowledge is power though, so to know not only how these times can affect you, but how you can cope with the painful reminder will get you through even your darkest of days.
One of my closest friends is reminded each October of a pretty horrific vehicle accident she was in. For the most part she is fine now, scars remain where most of the outward damage was done. What she wasn’t prepared for, was the emotions that flood her post recovery. For some (like her family) talking about the traumatic event helps ease the tension and pain. However, when they talk about it they fail to see this stresses her. She suffers from some memory loss, not of the car accident, but from when she was recovering. Since her head hit the dash during the accident, during the recovery she was often advised not to look at herself. At one point it got so bad that she broke a mirror because she was told that she would not like what she saw. Today, she’s filled with frustration because she cannot visualize herself during her recovery. To me, this fills my heart with a bit of sadness. She’s a beautiful, strong, young woman that should’ve had the faith invested in her to make a strong recovery. As a caregiver, I urge you to really LISTEN and pay attention to each survivor- they will indicate what they are ready for and when. The human spirit is a lot stronger than many want to give it credit for.
My wonderful boyfriend suffers each October as well. His father committed suicide during what seemed to be a possible midlife crisis. Unfortunately, this was well before we started dating so I do not know the depth of what had gone on, all I know is what is left. The man I am seeing now has the most beautiful soul, the kindest of hearts, and a stone wall around his heart about 20miles high. He struggles to let me in, but really who could blame him? SO MANY people in this world suffer from depression, many don’t find help, so very FEW of us understand what it’s like to walk that gloomy path & then RETURN from it. For him, his dad left him alone in the world. I know that they were best friends because those rare moments that he can reflect and share with me stories from his dad, that smile that I see is one in a million that can melt your heart. With him I am reminded CONSTANTLY to talk. Talking is the only way to work through it & it gives you a person. Everyone needs a person that they can talk with. Life will constantly throw us curve balls, as a human you’re not meant to handle them alone. No one is Superman- and let’s face it, even his fate could’ve been better.
As for myself, October 22nd is the anniversary of my worst sexual assault. Also, October 23rd should be my brother’s birthday (he’s the only person I’ve given/witnessed need CPR & passed over). Although my brother’s passing was a tragedy, I would like to speak about the assault more today. With the passing of each year I try to forget the assault. I try to push it away like it never happened at all, even though reality will never let me forget. Every day my life is different because of what that man decided to do to me. I’ve been at my worst from it, but today I push myself to make it more. I can look back at it though, as a growing experience. It takes knowing your darkest hour and your response to such scenario for real growth through pain to occur. For those who never experience that kind of pain I want you to realize how very blessed you are.
When I say growth through pain I want you to understand, because maybe for you it’s a possibility to turn tragedy around. With life comes the trauma of painful events. Each one of these events can do one of two things to you, break you down OR teach you how to overcome. It’s always going to hurt. Assault, traumatic injuries, death, divorce are just some of the world’s possibilities to bring us down. Once you’ve recovered from the initial shock and pain though, you must DO something about it. My challenge for every reader is to GROW from it. Do not let your darkest hour dictate your life. The world is full of beautiful places everywhere. Go outside, embrace the sun, run against the wind, take on a new challenge, go back to school. Don’t let the hardness of tragedy, or the pain of loss stop you from enjoying life. You’re only blessed with one go around as far as anyone knows. If you don’t take advantage of what you’re given it will be gone before you know it. Reach out and form connections to pull you out of the darkness when life challenges you. Embrace the day.