This year has been one of extremes.
I’ve felt the heights of happiness: being in love, my love being home for good, phone calls from nieces, family Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, bridal showers and bachelorettes, students who make me laugh.
This year, I’ve also felt the depths, the Mariana’s Trench, of despair, grief, fear, anger, trauma, stress. I experienced a trauma that I am still unravelling. It feels like I’ve lived a hundred lifetimes in just a few months.
Sometimes one extreme wins out over the other, for a time. Sometimes the moments follow each other in rapid succession.
This must be what (emotional) whiplash feels like.
Lately, I’ve been surprised to be doing really well. Yeah, it’s the end of a the school year, and I’m tired, stressed, overwhelmed. But it feels as though I’ve finally exhaled a breath I’d been holding. It’s as if some of the weight and tension has finally been released.
It feels like I can finally relish in and appreciate the fact that I am marrying the absolute love of my life and all the chaos of wedding planning. I’ve always been excited for our wedding, but the overwhelming grief often pushed excitement out of the way.
I’m not naive enough to believe that I’ve moved on or am ‘healed’. It’s unpredictable when the pendulum will swing – I know this. But I feel like after a long time, I can finally say something other than just “okay” when people ask how I am.
After experiencing a traumatic event, you have to get to know the new version of you. I’m still getting to know this new version of me. I woke up that morning the same me, and by the time I finally went to sleep that night (if you can call it ‘sleep’), I had changed. I’ve had to learn new things about myself. New ways of existing, new triggers, new feelings.
I wish I didn’t know grief the way that I do or know trauma the way that I do. In the early days and months, I wondered how I would ever be okay again, ever be myself again, ever laugh the same again. But you get there. It doesn’t go away completely, and I know I am forever changed, but… you get there. You smile, you laugh, you are able to live around the grief rather than getting over it.
Often I find myself wondering why I write posts like this one. I’ve written about a lot of my personal thoughts (some may say, too much) over the years, but this has been a hard one to put into words. One thing I will take from this experience is that I am immensely supported, and I have only made it to this point because of that support – I did not get here by my strength alone. So perhaps part of me writes for you, the ones who have loved and supported me, who wonder how I’m really doing but aren’t sure how to ask. I want you to know that right now, I’m doing pretty well.