Please pardon this different type of blog from me today. Writing has always been a good outlet, so I’ll make an exception from my usual upbeat blogs to give voice to some thoughts, and hopefully purge them from inside of me.  I’m feeling vulnerable enough these days, so the thought of actually sharing my feelings is pretty scary. I have always prided myself on being a tough guy.  I have always subscribed to the “Put on your big girl pants and deal with it” mentality.  All of my big girl pants seem to be in the laundry this week.  But after all, this blog is only read by close friends and family anyway.  I truly have been doing so much better, but the past few days have been a pretty rough, but TEMPORARY, setback. I always like to be the strong one.  I’m still not sure if I’ll even end up hitting the “publish” button on this.

One year ago today, I almost died.  Oh good Lord, but that sounds so dramatic.  I hate drama.  But the fact is,  this “traumaversary” has me feeling so anxious, sad and depressed, and the nightmares, flashbacks, nausea and panic attacks have started up all over again. I haven’t shared my thoughts and feelings because I’m kind of ashamed, embarrassed, and feeling guilty that I’m “not over it yet”.  I’M tired of all this – I can only imagine that friends and family are tired of hearing about it too.  I so don’t want to be that “whiner”.   I’ve never been good at asking for what I need.  I wouldn’t even know what to ask for in this case anyway.

I wish I could erase all of this from my mind and just get back to life as my former “Mary Sunshine” (as my husband likes to call me) self.  But the brain is one heck of a storage facility for all types of memories and emotional reactions to those memories.   I hate the thought of this trauma taking any more from me than it already has.  I want to take ME back.

We can’t choose what life has to offer us, but we can choose how we respond.  With that thought in mind, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to acknowledge the day – or maybe just get through the day – in such a way that makes me feel I have some control over these runaway feelings.

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I’ve been seeing this date looming ahead, and my anxiety has just been building and building.  I know from experience of past traumas that the “firsts” are always hard.  I’ll be glad to get this first behind me. I’m not the only person to ever go through trauma, but when you’re going through it, it can feel very lonely.  I also know from experience that the anticipation of the anniversary date is often worse than the actual day.  I’m hoping that is the case.

I hate that the nightmare accident of a year ago continues to steal from me.  It has stolen precious time with my husband, grandchildren, friends and family, and has left some relationship scars.  It has stolen my energy, and my strength, both physical and mental.  It has stolen my great health and fitness level.  It has stolen an organ.  It has stolen my social life and all the activities I used to enjoy.   It has stolen my sanity.  And my confidence.  And my sense of security and well-being.   It has stolen a year of my life.

So back to my dilemma – just how should I acknowledge this day in a way that will make me feel better?  Should I ignore the day and just go about my business as usual?  Should I spend it hiding under the covers?  Should I go spend the day with family and friends?  Should this day be no different than any other day?  I haven’t been able to come up with anything.  I hate the drama of it all.  I hate giving this trauma any more power.

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I’m not where I was before this happened.  I don’t know where I’ll end up.  Maybe this IS as good as it’s going to get for me.  Maybe I won’t ever actually get over this – maybe I’ll just get through it, as is often the case with traumas.   Only time will tell, but I’ll keep working at it and hope that my healing will continue.  I have come a long way, and I just need to keep reminding myself of that fact.

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I think it comes down to this: whatever ends up being the final decision, it will never be enough or give me any sense of comfort.   But I’ll wake up on Thursday, take a deep breath, say my morning prayers and be grateful that this first has passed.  I’m sure the days will start to get better again.

I’ve always believed that the attitudes you bring to life’s circumstances are always within your control. You can choose to give up and give in, or you can choose to take charge of your life and keep moving forward.  I will keep working to move forward.  Right after this speed-bump of a day.care6

I hope that by sharing something so private and traumatic, maybe I’ll give someone else a few different ways to look at things.  Maybe we don’t always need to be a tough guy.   Grief doesn’t have a timeline, and just because it isn’t proceeding according to our expections, doesn’t mean we’re not doing it right.  I have an amazing therapist who tells me to quit being so hard on myself.  She has made me question that maybe I’m being more judgemental of myself than any of my loved ones are.  Maybe we don’t need to bear so much pain alone.  I know it has helped me tremendously to have my feelings validated by a professional.  Maybe by sharing this, I’ll be able to validate someone else’s feelings.

In the wise words of my grandmother . . .

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Written by Jennifer Cartledge

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