Posts Tagged ‘Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome’

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. (Melody Beattie)

My birthday has arrived—number seventy. I tell my husband: Let’s celebrate nature. No fancy restaurant. Forget anything that involves crowds. If something happens at the last minute and our plans need to change, I’m flexible. Postponement is one way of saying another day exists.

When I was young the new green of spring represented no more than background. When will we get to the zoo or the picnic? Travel without comic books meant blank, boring space. As a kid, I suspected I had plenty of time left. Adulthood belonged to some unrelated, untouchable dimension. After all, the grownup belonged to a different species. They knew all the rules. Kids didn’t get detailed explanations until after they broke the side laws.

And I was beyond naïve. As well as profoundly less-than-popular. My youth was shattered on an April night I expected to be murdered. I was in my late teens. In fact, as I screamed out that one of the men was hurting me, he said that it was supposed to hurt. And I expected to be found dead in the beautiful nature I had taken for granted. Details of that event are unnecessary. Let the past remain in the past.

I lived. But my mother reacted against me. As I lay in my bed the next day after returning home from the emergency room, she handed me a rosary. “This is what you need.” And I could not pull my fingers along the familiar beads. Instead I pretended to be in a coffin, and prayed that my room would morph into a funeral home if I remained still long enough.

It did not happen. Friends appeared. Few, but vital—Sue—I haven’t seen her in years. But she planted seeds that took decades to grow.

I write about the positive, the beautiful, the glory of being alive. Even while the difficult, the unfair, the ugly continue to try to destroy the world. I do not want to author a full-length-memoir. Sure, the past exists in the present. Someplace hidden within the body. Those tiny nits never go away, but they can teach instead of dominate. They can open the door for compassion.

I mention my experience now to show that I did not come from a utopian existence. With the help of arms and ears, not advice or dogma, I grew. With the direction of people who showed me that I had untapped talents, I found them. And wrote songs, poems, short stories, and a full-length middle-grade fantasy, The Curse Under the Freckles. Love became possible in a fuller life-isn’t-all-about-me sense.

Now, there are days when I look at the time on the clock, backward in the mirror, and wonder if I can get up yet to begin the day. There may not be a way I can go back and tell the despairing young-girl-me  that she was passing through a desert, not eternal damnation. But I can forgive my mother. She gave the solution she knew, albeit inadequate.

Moreover, I can pass on the word that what sometimes seems to be a dead-end may have an exit. And it can begin with something as simple as a genuine, non-judgmental I-care.

Happy Birthday to me. I don’t ask for seventy more years. Only for each day’s blessings, recognized as completely as possible.

May all know the beauty of who you are.

little Terry on flowered background (2)

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