I had made the decision that I would go to the private party for the One Fund. I made plans to meet a friend at South Station and we would get over to the Back Bay together. I woke up in the morning to helicopters and sirens which wasn't exactly helpful, but once I saw it was a fire on the bridge, I wasn't as anxious. I felt sort of numb and that I could certainly be fine going. As I walked out of Charlestown, two fire trucks came flying by which made me feel a little sick. They did not have to go far, as their was a car accident on the bridge connecting Charlestown to the North End. I kept walking. I decided I did not want to get on a crowded train and the walk would be good. As I walked, I felt weird. I can't really describe it. My legs felt weak and I felt that if I stopped walking, I wouldn't be able to keep moving or they'd give out. I started to feel nauseas, but I refused to stop. I was going to do this. By the time I got to South Station, I felt drained, but good to be with others. We walked to the back bay, being more and more startled by sirens and loud noises as we got closer. But, like before, I just kept walking. We made our way through security and down Stuart Street.
The number of people increased and you could look down side streets and see crowds gathered on Boylston. I started to stress out about needing to make it in time to see Matt and Luke pass by, especially since we needed to make a stop first. As we passed the area I remember dodging first responder vehicles last year, I felt more of a need to keep walking fast and the sick feeling got worse. I started to get a headache. We stopped in the Marriot to try and pick up more tickets and when that was taking too long, I got impatient and left on my own. I don't have the best patience anymore anyway, but wanting to see Matt was a priority. I made my way through the Pru, a route we had planned Saturday. I would go out the food court and be right next to the restaurant.
As I walked up to the door, a cop was there blocking it. He said it was closed and we couldn't exit. I calmly explained, though could feel myself start to freak out, that I was going to the One Fund party right there (pointing) and asked how else I could get there easily. He said I'd have to go out and around on the street. I panicked. I did not want to go in the crowd, and especially not alone. If I had been thinking more clearly, I'd realize that I could go down the escalator and would just be across the courtyard, but in the moment, I could only picture having to go down to Exeter St or Ring Rd (the road I ran down to escape, the road that, as I ran toward it, saw things I wish I could erase from my brain) to get there. My eyes filled up with tears and I think I looked panicked, so he asked what I do for the One Fund. I told him I don't do anything for them and that I couldn't go out in the crowded street. I think the crying, anxiety kicking in, and where I was trying to get to made him realize what was happening and he moved aside and told me I could go. I must have said 'thank you' five times going out the door.
I saw a few people I knew when I got there, ate some food, and though my leg started to shake and I felt numb and exhausted, it wasn't bad. Being in a room, unable to hear the crowd was nice. I was able to see Matt and Luke come by and stayed for a while after, talking to some people. There were people who I knew and who I did not know who came up to me randomly a couple of times and just said, "You ok? I know. I feel the same way." There must have been something about my face that said it all. When the room got more crowded and I realized I knew less people, it was time to get out. I made my way out the way I came to head toward Stuart and Berkeley for Matt and Luke's party. As I passed Dartmouth and Stuart, I was picturing us running down the street. I pushed it away and as I walked very fast, kept reminding myself to look at the crowd of people and notice how calm and happy everyone looked. I was still numb, but overwhelmed. The numb is the opposite reaction from the high anxiety. They are the two extreme "levels of tolerance". I learned that both are basically the same, your body reacting, but that your body also decides if it's too much to go to the high anxiety, it goes numb. The numb feeling feels good sometimes because I'd rather not be shaking and crying, but it also feels surreal and sad. All in all though, the day was better than I thought it could be!
I was so focused on walking fast, I walked past my destination. I realized at Arlington St that I went too far and had to go back. I went in and talked to friends and family there, which was nice. Luke was full of energy (seriously, you would never know he ran 26.2 miles) and also had some nice words of encouragement for me. When everyone was leaving, a few people were staying to grab another drink. I hadn't drank yet, but after some encouragement, decided having a couple of drinks and laughs may be a good note to end the day on. We made our way to the South End for a bit and then went home. It definitely hit me more when I got home and I cried a bit.
The great part about the day was that I felt good that I went, regardless of the other feelings I was having. I was so proud and happy for those who finished the race, especially survivors I know who ran or were watching from different places along the route. I was also proud of those who stayed away because they felt it was best for them. The whole day was a beautiful and positive day, which is exactly what it needed to be.
I did wake up Tuesday with a more calm feeling inside, which was nice. That calm, numb feeling has continued all week. I spent most of the day at MGH while my mother had surgery and part of the next day before she was released. The leg shaking was constant for those two days. I had hoped that would just end after Monday. I had some unrealistic thoughts on what would happen come Tuesday, which was disappointing, even though I knew they were unrealistic. But, the shaking has been a LOT less and only situational.
I spent the week trying to get back on track. It's definitely hard, especially since I have felt so completely exhausted. I have spent a couple of hours a day unable to move from the couch and even napped a few times. I think after the bit of relief after Monday passed, that the exhaustion really hit. I obviously needed the rest. I also felt sad. I think it's a combination of things. I feel sad that things couldn't just go back to "normal" all of a sudden. I feel sad because I realized I still feel uncomfortable in situations I used to feel fine in. I feel sad about things that I just didn't have time to feel sad about before. For a year, I was sad about that day, about the people I met, the things I was going through as a result of it. But, now, it's like I have time to grieve other things; the friends I lost connections with because they didn't understand, the relationship I lost (even though it was not at all meant to be), mostly how I lost "me", my cousin's life changing due to illness, and other personal things from the year. I do believe if people in my life were meant to be there, they would still be, so logically, I believe it happened the way it needed to, but it's still sad.
I also feel disconnected again. I spent so much time with others who "get it" and now, everything has died down and I can tell my friends and family are hoping I'm just a lot better now. It's a lot of pressure and it feels a little lonely again, which is why I have to keep myself trying to stay social, even in uncomfortable situations.
As I went to an event Friday night and to possibly get drinks with people on Saturday evening, I realized I still feel very uncomfortable in those situations. Before, I would be bouncing around talking to everyone at an event and totally at ease. Before, I would have loved to be in a crowded bar during playoff hockey. Now, all I want to do is get out of there. And, even though the Bruins are in the playoffs, I still have no feelings or connections to it, which is SO different. I know I can't focus not these things, but it's hard. I miss "me". I miss the things I used to love. I can't give up hope that they will come back.
I am struggling with the fact that people think this is "over" now. Literally a few people have asked me if i'm "all better now" (and with the people that asked, they truly do think it's just done now). Most are great though and ask if I feel better now than I did, which I do. I feel better than I did for that whole month of strong anxiety and emotion. But, to think that passing the anniversaries makes it all gone, that's not realistic. Neither is saying this brought "closure" ("A feeling of finality, of a resolution"). I don't even know why that word is ever used. I can't be annoyed at people asking that however, considering part of me just hoped it would be "over" and "all better".
I guess the only way I can describe it so people get it is to compare it to losing a loved one. Do you suddenly one day get over someone's death? Do you suddenly have closure to it? No. You move on, you get used to it and accept it, but you miss that person forever, you remember it, it makes you sad at times. You learn to live with that loss, but it's still there with you. I don't think I'd ever ask someone if they were over losing a loved one or think there was something wrong if they had times when they felt sad about it or thought about it more. That is like this. If I need to cry a little or take a few days, it has to be okay. PTSD doesn't just stop. The images in my head don't just stop. I look forward to them being less clear and for them to pop into my head a lot less. I look forward to feeling no instant reaction to hearing a siren or loud noise. But, it will take time. Like I said, I have not been shaking much since Wednesday. That doesn't mean that, faced with a certain situation, it won't come back, but I enjoy the days my leg isn't bouncing up and down.
On top of everything, I need to move...out of the city...hopefully temporarily. It's a big life change to be happening right now, but I also think it could be good. I love the city and already think about how i'll miss being here in the summer, but I have to do what I have to do. I leave for Italy Sunday and then will come back and pack. I'm hoping the trip and the move will help me to regroup and sort of figure out my next step. I also hope it will help me figure out how to live with this "new normal", the "new normal" that I hope keeps changing to be more like the "old normal". The important word here is "hope". I will continue to have hope and faith in everything, that it will keep improving and life will again feel amazing like it used to. Hope.