“Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don't remember me at all.”
It has been two years ago today that my dear wife Rhonda passed. So unexpectantly, so sudden, so devastating. It seems so long ago but then again like only moments have passed. That is the nature of a Trauma Bomb in our lives. The old saying that time heals all wounds is a fallacy. Time heals nothing. It only allows some of the pain to become less acute and more bearable. On the surface we may feel like we are healing, getting over it, moving on, but in reality until we do something else the Trauma Bomb, particularly of a lost loved one, will continue to fester and infect and poison our present and continue into our future.
What time does is allows us to forget a little. We become conditioned to the pain, become numbed to it somewhat. In the early days of grief the pain is pretty constant and sometimes unpredictable. As time passes it will pop up again...occasionally in predictable ways and others will blind side you completely. The thing is about grief, particularly for someone who has other significant Trauma Bombs in their past, is that the accumulative effect of the past traumas makes getting over and somewhat resolving the next one even more complicated and difficult, until the majority of all those past Trauma Bombs have been processed and examined and the personal power surrendered to them to control our lives drained away and recaptured...recovered so that we have control over them and they do not control us.
My wife's death gave me an opportunity to really dig into my past. I wrote a book about it that I'm still finishing...still trying to get published. Exorcising my past Trauma Bombs has allowed me to move along the path of grief far smoother and less painfully than it would have otherwise. Yet I can never totally remove the fallout of such a loss. There are things still left undone in my life that would allow further healing. You see the healing process when dealing with past trauma, Trauma Bombs is not a one time or thousand time thing. It is an ongoing process. You cannot write your trauma life line history, examine it once and then say "it's done...I will never have to look at it again." You will have to look at it. With each passing day new life events, both good and bad, changes the landscape of your life, your existence, your existential state of mind. With each new breath of life you must adapt and learn to cope and adjust to the challenges of the new day.
Having built my trauma life line and examining it closely and objectively I have regained control of my life, my emotions, my state of mind. Granted I don't have total control. Emotions are something totally out of our control...they just happen. They can be sudden and often intense. They can be bursts of happiness, sadness, anger, jealously, joy, peace, loneliness, etc. but they are very short lived in their natural state. We can then make conscious choices how we react to them and our reactions either extinguish them or allow them to continue and stay with us for a longer period of time. We can allow the good feelings to blossom and continue for a period or we can transform them into something darker and damaging. Same with the bad feelings. We can extinguish their damaging flames or we can stoke and feed the flames until they become a raging inferno running rampage through our daily life.
Anniversary dates, holidays, events that trigger memories are times when our past Trauma Bombs are closest to the surface and the radiation emitted from them the strongest. Sometimes when we know such dates are approaching we can prepare for them. That preparation though we can never predict it's outcome. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't. This year I could feel that this two year anniversary of Rhonda's death was going to be more problematic for me than the first year anniversary. Maybe it was because this last year has had so many other Trauma Bombs explode in my life. It has been a very tough year emotionally, financially, and in other ways. The magnification effect has tested my strength and coping skills to the maximum. I knew that I was tired and weary and my reserve strength at a low level. But I prepared myself and this day has now arrived and I'm doing OK. I will get through it alright, but not without once again examining my past and refocusing and adjusting my plans for my tomorrows. Yes, it is painful to do so, but it is a manageable pain...a pain that I can somewhat control, harness it's energy and work to transform it into something useful and hopefully positive.
Everyone of us, regardless of our past trauma histories...small, medium, large or catastrophic owes it to ourselves to construct our trauma life lines and begin the process of examining it, putting our past into perspective...rewriting our negative past experiences and creating a narrative in our heads that is positive and not negative. Take back the power...take back the control. It's an ongoing healing process that will never be complete but it will make the journey of life a better journey instead of one filled with unbearable pain, random chaos, never ending tears and void of hope.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13. This bible verse is so telling and true particularly when dealing with past and present trauma. We must have faith in something higher than ourselves. For many of us that is faith in God. The hope is the hope that tomorrow can be better. Doesn't mean we don't have to work hard to make it so. But truly the greatest is love. Trauma robs us of love if we allow it to do so. It robs us of trust in others and if we cannot trust we cannot feel or express love. Feel the love. Show the love. Find healing in the love.