My Trauma does not Define me
Today, April 27th, 2020 I am declaring that my trauma no longer defines me. This day has haunted me for the last 16 years and has led to so many tears, so much depression, forever playing the victim, and absolutely no form of ealing. I have written a glum Facebook post every year, with the same pictures circulating and being regurgitated as a solemn reminder of the day my life changed forever.
This year, something different has sparked in me. I don’t want to be that person any longer, I don’t need 100’s of likes, loves, and sad faces on another post regarding my sister’s death. I understand that people mean well, and I also mean well when I comment on another person’s grief post. I don’t mean well for myself when I blast my grief year after year. I constantly victimize myself, with no intention of changing my role in life. I have realized this year that in order to heal, I have to face reality. My sister is dead, and it is okay that I grieve. I spent 14 years drinking my pain away, masking grief and mental illness which is now leaving me with all the wreckage of my past to sort through.
My life’s purpose is to help others. In helping others heal from their trauma, addictions, mental health, and just general wellbeing, I have to pave the way. I can’t lead others down a path of healing when I refuse to walk down that same path. I realize that the traumatic things in my life have happened so I can serve people the way others have served me in healing. What a fitting time, in the middle of a pandemic, to recognize that we must work together as a community through trauma, heartache, uncertainty, wellness, and even triumph!
I look at my testimony and I see an arsenal of life experiences that can help others who are going down my same path. People who lose their siblings are not receiving the emotional support necessary to help grieve. In turn, I see friends who have turned to alcohol to cope. People avoiding grief are placing fortresses around their soul, nobody in and nobody out. It’s a certain kind of hell that can best be described as, you gotta live it to know it. A phrase that is thrown around often, and with good intention, “I just can’t even imagine” drives me up the wall, especially in April. Don’t even try to imagine, you don’t have to. I realize that sounds harsh, I do believe that most people have wonderful intentions to try to bring healing to those suffering, and you can, just be authentic in sending your love. Be vulnerable, it brings respect and love to yourself and others. “I can’t imagine” or “thoughts and prayers” hold little to no depth, and personally send me into a tailspin of rage. Sad face that shit if you have to, even love it, just please stay away from blanket statements that make you feel like you did the right thing. It may help you, but it doesn’t help the person in distress.
Today I think of first responders. I think of the firefighters that worked tirelessly to try to save my sister’s life, along with the four other boys she was with. The level of selflessness, determination, and bravery it took that day to save two lives is incredible to me, and to return 3 others including Natalie to their families has allowed us closure that may not have happened otherwise. I often think of the young Savage police officer who was chosen to ring our doorbell and break the news to my family that would shift our lives forever. I ran into him (okay lets be real, he pulled me over while I was speeding) a few years ago. When he saw my last name, his eyes welled up and he said he still thought of my family and I, and that was one of the hardest things he has had to do as a police officer to this day. I think of the hospital staff who saved Justin’s life. I wonder if the nurses and doctors still think of that joyous day that they saved a young man’s life. These people on the front lines deserve our love and respect always, they truly are heroes.
Today, I challenge you. We have all been through trauma, how can you change the way you react to the bad things that have occurred in your life. Are there resentments that need to let go of? Do you play the victim? Have you grieved, or are you willing to work on your grief? I challenge you to be mindful of others, to be authentic in your support of one another.
What can you do today to help someone else?
AN INTRODUCTION TO THIS SERIES.
Vanessa is my second cousin- and we really had no interaction until the last few years. When I moved to Minnesota, we connected a bit, and we came into each others lives right when we were needed. Through Vanessa's journey, we can all grow and heal in our own ways and overcome any circumstances, situations or setbacks we might experience in our lives.
I hope you enjoy this blog series,