Most people (and I probably would) say things like "I can't wait for 2013 to be over, 2014 is going to be better". I tried that last year and life was amazing at first, and then my life was turned upside down. I mean, don't get me wrong, I cannot imagine 2014 being worse than 2013 as far as experiences, but I don't want to compare last year and this year. Whatever happens, it's all just life. Everyone's pain and happiness is subjective. We all have ups and downs every year and we shouldn't disregard any positives that have happened just because we had some negatives. I know that I will always carry April 15, 2013 with me and it will be difficult at times, but I also look at the things I've learned, people i've met, and friendships that have either been new or have been solidified. Don't try and erase the experiences you had, but instead, learn and grow from them. Find the lessons and the positive things that come out of tragedy and sadness.
For me, 2013 brought new meaning to "life is short". I now really know what that means. I thought I did after other experiences, including two pretty bad car accidents over the years, but this year was different. After those car accidents, I didn't have a problem driving again. I did get nervous if a car cut me off or got too close because they were similar to those accidents (which were 100% not my fault, by the way-one with a deer in NH and one with a woman flying down the aisle in a parking lot), but those moments didn't cause emotion or full blown anxiety. The Marathon bombings were different, very different, and they changed the way I look at life and those around me.
I find myself being hyper-vigilant. I never used to be on alert and now I found myself scanning crowds and constantly looking around when in public places. This isn't all of the time, but it happens. I took my first flight since April a couple of weeks ago. I was nervous about it which was strange since I love flying. I felt okay on the way to Logan, but found myself looking around at everyone in the airport. I felt anxious, though not as bad as I thought I would. Once on the plane, I tried to keep myself distracted by a book I was reading, but still looked around at everyone and when it took longer to leave the gate than it should have, I found myself feeling nervous. As we taxied and during takeoff, I ended up getting an awful headache which resulted in crying. It was not a lot of crying, but I had tears I couldn't stop. It lasted for about half an hour before I got it to stop and I just focused on my book and music again. This new way of looking at life; being alert, being skeptical of people, being anxious at times, has certainly taken some getting used to and I'm determined that it will lessen over time.
Almost nine months later (WOW), I still feel emotion when I step onto Boylston Street anywhere between Fairfield St and Copley Square and even near the Public Gardens, where I remember running in fear. I still jump a little when I hear a loud noise or a siren out of nowhere. It's not as bad lately as it was. This roller coaster has big hills and deep valleys. I had a few months before that I had minimal "symptoms" and then they came back full force. I am now up on a small hill. I'm still anxious and emotional at times, but not as much. I have some irritability (well, my sister who lives with me may say more than just some) which is unusual for me, headaches, and some other things. For the most part, I'm pretty good, but i'm not as happy/myself as I was and want to be. I'm also still very frustrated for everyone I know who was affected directly and still struggling who has no support/resources from our city, but I'm hoping to help change that.
So, here is my summary of what 2013 brought to me.
- A horrible tragedy, the biggest challenge I've faced to date, that changed my life in many ways, both positive and negative with some temporary and some permanent.
- A new understanding of how sacred life is but also how uncertain it can be.
- A new awareness of the awful things that can happen and exist around us.
- An increased awareness that there are much bigger problems in the world that need to be dealt with, but not through hate, fear, and anger.
- New and old friends that have proven that it doesn't matter how long a friendship has existed, but what matters is that friends are supportive, understanding, honest, can make you laugh, and can let you cry.
- New connections of people who experienced April 15 in similar yet different ways. Connections that have inspired me and made me even more aware that it's a small world and we can be connected in many ways.
- A new appreciation what people experience when they go through tragic events of all levels, especially our first responders and those who fight for us.
- A realization of who is truly there for me and who isn't, either because they don't want to be or just do not know how (and the acceptance of that).
- Political involvement. Anyone who knows me well knows I hate politics. My experience at the marathon combined with my strong belief in a great man running for office changed that and it helped give me something to focus on and help with healing.
- Family I had hoped to find for the last 20ish years.
- Illness and events in my family that changed lives, solidified relationships, and showed love.
- The realization that, even though I don't really feel it at times when the valleys come, I am stronger and more determined than I even thought I was.
These are my hopes and goals for 2014
- To help others affected by the marathon and help bring awareness and resources to PTSD in general.
- To grow my business even more. It took a large hit this last year and I am appreciative of my clients that were patient through it all. I love my clients and look forward to capturing their memories and those of new clients this year.
- To spend a lot of time enjoying life and getting back to traveling.
- Facing what will be my biggest challenge, attending the 2014 Marathon.
- Finding my happiness again.
- Getting used to and moving forward with the new me, which is not easy since i'm not exactly in love with the "me" of right now.
- Continuing to figure out the reasons I was there on April 15. Everything happens for a reason and nothing is by chance. I believe that more than ever.
Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for reading. I hope you will continue in the New Year.