Many have asked me how I managed to deal with what happened; they questioned my ability to forgive and to move forward. It has taken time and recognition that each one of us has our own path for growing into being a parent. I am thankful that my husband found his way and is a wonderful father. As to my own journey, it’s true the sorrow and anger I felt were devastating. I didn’t have a choice I had to find joy and peace for my son and our family. It started by walking, I could control how and when I moved my body, even if I couldn’t control the waves of emotions I was feeling.
I played music while I walked and gradually my daily stroller rides got longer and the pain a bit easier to manage. Grief and trauma do not go away so easily they are etched, engraved into the essence of your soul, charter and mind, whether you want it to or not. I am not free of my experience during those 72 hours or the weeks before or after. The biggest thing I learned is vulnerability does not mean anyone will take care of you and that you must take measures to ensure your own welfare and those of your children.
On days when the memories are present it can be hard. I have learned it’s ok to feel, to let them surround me for a moment, to sit quite while my body absorbed what my mind has decided to awaken. I had guilt about this and thought that pushing through these moments was what was required. If I allowed myself to feel I thought it justified what was done to me. Perhaps they were right and what if it then could happen again. I remind myself that it was not my fault at the time, that what happened never should occurred and feeling does not mean I am failing as either a mother or as a person in control of her own life, I am human.
We are not allowed to grief and if we do we are expected to move on, quickly, respectably and strongly.
Part of grief is listening softly for possibly clues to your new life journey, to what will direct you to where you belong not just in the world but also with yourself. This is the biggest challenge not only after a traumatic experience but how to manage this on an ongoing basis. The hardest thing it to allow quite into your life, especially when silence, when being present is the last thing you want to do and when we have so many things to create noise–people, TV, internet, activities and the urge to be something, to do something to earn your worth.
One of the most daunting things is to be with yourself and to discover who you are; not what you are or what you should do. For me this definition is evolving. I always questioned if who I am is enough for myself and now for my son. This quest for enough is the drive that guides my life journey to improve and impact the world. Part of dealing with trauma is allowing these experiences to pause my journey and that it is not a measure of my failure but wisdom of my character.