If FUBR’s been around since WWII, I can imagine that “shit happens” was a thing long before I remember it being such a hit in the movie Forrest Gump. I can’t lie, I’ve used it a lot throughout my illness, but I feel like a life with and after AE is far more than shit happens. It’s a constant attempt to recognize yourself and life after devastation.
As I write this, I’m in full swing of my May trauma season. Who am I kidding, the trauma begins as early as the February days turn to March. March has a profoundly gross feeling for me, April brings some respite, and May is relentless. I can feel the meaning of the days. May 3. May 7. May 8. May 14. … Each one as intense or more than the next. And the way the May sun shines. It’s potent.
As I was moving about the other day, from appointment, to event, to meeting, the queasy May feeling tried to overtake me. It all kicked off with counseling. While therapy has been by far one of the most beneficial things I’ve done in this last leg of recover and rebuild, I cannot always say it’s easy. You pick at wounds. And if you’re me, you realize your thoughts still have a certain playback to them. It all keeps the trauma alive as it simultaneously closes it.
I left counseling with that tiny opening to the wound still festering and knew that I had to perform at the next location. But the hurt inside told me maybe I couldn’t. As I drove, glasses trying to keep the sun from my eyes, feeling the warmth that brings about that certain smell in my car, I told myself, A really bad thing happened to me. That was it. And it was powerful.
The place I chose to go to next, was the local bar luncheon. The prior month’s gathering had (somewhat irrationally) upset me to the point that I left to go home and cry on a walk. The bad news is, I’m still awesome like that. The good news is, it hasn’t happened in a really long time.
As I walked in to eat my Celiac lunch, yet another of so many reminders that I’m different from the lawyers who sit next to me, I held my head high and thought, A really bad thing happened to me. The bland lunch was fine and the speaker was interesting. No tears.
I hopped back in the car for the drive North. Same sun, same smell, same me, same void. I left a table of people who don’t hesitate when asked, “What do you do?” to drop something off at a law office that used to be mine. There’s nominal resemblance to what was, but the memories are everywhere.
It was fun to be back. It took years, but I’ve made it there. To a place where you can say to those around you, “You know …” “Remember when …” and on every detailed level, they do know, and they too remember. I was once again surrounded by my group. Which easily could have led to the tears and fears of what could have been.
Instead, I walked out, dropped the glasses to shade that strong, yellow sun, opened the door to the white car where the smell hides, and hopped in. And I drove away, chin up. I reminded myself that you can’t miss what isn’t. But you can be happy for what was.
And you can recognize life is different. Because a really bad thing happened to you.
There’s no shame in that.
“Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers Leave all your love and your longing behind You can't carry it with you if you want to survive
“The dog days are over The dog days are done Can you hear the horses? ‘Cause here they come” ~ Dog Days Are Over by Florence + the Machine
*I wrote this in May. I'm aware that it's nearly July (it's been busy ...). **Photo Cred: My friend, Chad (aka to me: CNod). Chad was an experienced lawyer when I was a baby lawyer and our firms shared office space (which means he helped me ... a lot). He's a great friend and an amazing photographer! Check him out on Insta at @snapchadpics. ***My choice of a photo for this piece carries a lot of symbolism. Have fun with it!