When Trauma is in the Rear-view Mirror

I recently had an opportunity to unpack a current crisis with a friend. Not mine, hers. She's right in the eye of the storm, the time when all you can do is try to feed your kids and fall asleep at night. You're in a holding pattern, survival mode. The vultures are circling. The waves are cresting and all you can do is keep yourself and your children afloat. It's so very simple and yet it is so damn hard. It takes every ounce of strength you have, every pore, every cell is straining to make it moment by moment. It's a lot.

It's very interesting for me to witness, commiserate, empathize and encourage people in trauma now. When I was experiencing such a major trauma (my husband had a psychotic break after our second child was born), I remember wondering if I would ever look back on it and be grateful it happened. I didn't think I would. When your person almost doesn't survive something that you participated in, it is deeply painful and frightening. I would never have willingly made him vulnerable to that all-encompassing power of depression. 

But that was just it. Had I known what was coming, I would have never risked having a second child. But that second child needed to come. I just knew it. And her birth and subsequent existence has forced us to face our shit on a level we may have never gotten to without her. For that, I am very, very grateful. When you're in the midst of the grief, the terror and total exhaustion (that you can in no way give in to) there is a glimmer of hope that maybe all the work will be worth it. And I can say, with the horror of those years behind us, that we are markedly better people because of that trauma. I wouldn't have participated in it willingly (what kind of masochist would?) but when trauma visits, it does not ask permission. It takes. It takes everything. And you have no idea what you will get back.

However, sometimes rather than giving back your regurgitated, broken life, trauma exchanges it for health, boundaries, wisdom, independence and empowerment. My dear ones, there is hope on the horizon. Carry on, wounded friends. No one knows what the future holds. No one can promise you what you will leave on the battlefield and what you will take with you. And shit's gonna get real. There will be blood. You're gonna get torn wide open. But there is beauty in pain. There is hope of resurrection. And I do not mean that in a pat your head sort of way. I actually mean it. I've lived it. No one can say what that future will look like for you, but know that this awful thing may indeed make you the best version of yourself you've ever known. Whether you arrived at this field kicking and screaming or not, I know you will leave it on your own two feet. You're a fighter. I promise.