So, I put my focus on work and social events. Each time a bit of emotion or anxiety would creep in, I would push it away, deep down where I couldn't feel it. The result? Feeling sick. Instead of it coming out directly, it's come out in other ways; acid reflux, headaches, stomach aches, and my least favorite, anger and frustration. I put on that smile and try to just deal every day and it seems I've been doing a great job. The downside is that I still feel a little like I'm dying inside. I ignored it for about a week. Then, Thanksgiving came. In the days leading up to it, I missed my grandmother more than ever. Her birthday had been the week before and then a holiday. My grandmother was one of the absolute most important and influential people in my life. We had a special bond that can never be replaced. Therefore, every birthday and holiday, I miss her. However, this year, I've missed her even more. I like to think she's been there. I like to think she made me stop that day and make the decision to stand where I stood instead of continuing back to behind the flags. I like to think she's been with me as I breakdown. But, it's not quite the same.
So, I got emotional. Part of me really wanted to take Thanksgiving to just relax and not leave my couch. But, I was afraid of what would happen. I was afraid I would cry all day and the thought alone exhausted me. So, I went and spent the day with family. I was exhausted though and have been since. Sure, I've been busy with work, but it's a different kind of exhaustion. I go to bed at a decent time. But, I'm not sleeping well. (another of those "coming out in other ways" things). I even woke up to see I had thrown a pillow across my room the other night. I wake up tense most mornings or in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I wake up startled and not able to catch my breathe.
So, I kept myself mostly shut down through the holiday and beyond. I attended an event that was for people physically injured at the marathon (I was invited by a friend who had lost some of her hearing). It was to help with techniques for getting through the holidays and the first year. Three speakers who lost spouses in 9/11 spoke and one speaker from the Semper Fi Fund shared their advice. It was helpful, but in talking to them and to a woman from the One Fund, I realized that our city has no clue what it's doing. These speakers had reached out to the BPHC after the marathon to offer their assistance. They'd already been through it, they had a large network of people who had been through a terrorist attack and they wanted to help. They wanted to let them know what would help those affected. And, they were ignored until they were finally asked to speak at this event. We all know politics goes into this. Every group will do their thing, not completely working with others. However, this was a terrorist attack, something our city hadn't directly experienced before. It's not the time to play politics. It's the time to ask for help. They should be asking for help from others who have been through it. They'd be more aware of the needs as well as the much larger number of people who should be receiving help and resources. This event was helpful but also made me more frustrated with our city, our public officials, and our society in general.
That was last week. I've noticed for the last three weeks, that i've been increasingly impatient. I am usually a very patient and laid back person. That is something that has changed a bit in the last 8 months. It has been worse when I'm avoiding dealing with things. And so, especially in the last week, it's been bad. So much so that when I went to dry my hair yesterday and a fuse blew in my bathroom, I lost it. I swore, threw my brush, and went to find socks to put on my sneakers and go to the basement. I was throwing every piece of clothing from my laundry basket of newly washed clothes and then I just started crying and that awful tightness in my chest came. It was at that moment that I realized, this wasn't working.
After those awful weeks in Oct and Nov, I just wanted to be me again. So, I tried really hard. But the reality is that the quote above is right. The people I met and spoke to at that event confirmed it and a friend who has PTSD that I spoke to this week confirmed it as well. I will not be the same person I was. There are things that will be different, some temporary, some permanent. I knew it on April 15. I can't tell you why or how, but I remember feeling that nothing would ever really be the same. That doesn't mean my life won't be great and happy, but it will never be the same as it was. I especially felt it over the next week. The world was suddenly a completely different place. Almost eight months later, it still is in some ways. I jump at noises and sirens. I can't completely focus on one person talking in a crowd because I'm on edge about everyone else. Sometimes I can't even hear people without really watching their lips because I am so focused on all of the background noise. I have to constantly look around at my surroundings in crowded places. These things are all post-marathon.
This time of year is always hard for me. My friend even said it to me yesterday. I called her after I lost my shit and she told me she thinks since this is a difficult time for me anyway, it's just that much worse. She even pointed out that when I went to her house for a party last weekend that someone had asked if I was okay because I was quiet for a while. She said (something like), "No. She just needs time to get comfortable and get her bearings now. This is actually the most relaxed I've seen her in a long time." That struck me. Other people close to me are seeing things I'm not paying as much attention to. That wasn't me before. I tend to walk into a place where I know everyone and immediately start in with talking, sarcasm, and maybe even some singing (my poor friends). I realized she's right though. I do this a lot now. I have to ease into every situation, sometimes feeling very awkward even around people I know well. Again, a different me. I also give credit to this friend a lot, but she is probably the only person who was not there that day that understands (or at least tries to) me and I feel 100% okay to call no matter what is happening. She said it may be because she is one of the only people who knows what I really saw that day because I told her right after. I think it's that and the fact that she's always been there for me through everything, knowing me very well.
Anyway, this is getting long, so i'll start wrapping it up. As I said, this time of year is hard, but so much harder this year. I have felt more alone than I've ever felt for the last eight months and especially recently. Thank God for my friends and family for trying to consistently help with that. It means the world to me.
A thing that always bothers me this time of year and SO MUCH more this year is the loss of the true spirit of the season. Everyone is so focused on the hundreds of dollars of toys to buy their kids, the perfect gift for people, and everything else material. I can't go back 12 years and be back in my grandmother's house with her on Christmas day with the rest of the family. You can't get that time back. And that is what's important. The time you spend with each other. Every time I'm with my friends and family, I think about it. And, people not realizing it, makes me sad. Then, I think of people who don't have loved ones or people who can't have a bunch of gifts under the tree. Or, what about the people who have lost kids or parents or had other traumatic experiences? My point is that life is precious. The relationships we have are precious. Treasure them and focus on them instead of the stupid things in life and teach this to your children. We never know what can happen that will change our lives.
Thanks for reading.