Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Post Trauma

When the morning comes too soon and brings with it overwhelming (for me—right now) responsibilities, and I slept so lightly and woke so often that I wonder if I actually slept at all… I have a choice. And today I chose to walk in the rain. Not like most mornings where I sit in my bathrobe and hope the coffee performs some kind of magic.

Lately, I sit a lot. I still do the things and make the food, but I return always to my spot on the couch. And knit. Knit like a maniac. Knitting has all kinds of metaphors for life and trials. And it is a coping strategy for me. It helps me get my balance. Knitting is great for the soul but a little rough on the body. And I wonder whether all that inactivity is the cause for my poor sleep. Or something. Well, it’s worth a shot, anyway.

I’ve been sick—the same kind of sick I was after Chris died. And I feel the same kind of gut-wrench I felt after Chris died. I can’t sleep—just like after Chris died. And I find myself reliving the horrors of that time. What does being detained in a Middle Eastern airport (read the story here)—without your passport or your freedom—have to do with your husband dying? Why am I having trouble separating the two? Is this the thing they call PTSD? Is the airport trauma a “trigger” that brings the dead husband trauma back with all the freshness? A scab torn off. Blood gushes again from that healed wound. Maybe yes, but recognizing that doesn’t stop the guilty feelings. Buck up, Emily. Your kids are safe. You’re safe. No one died. You’re over-reacting. You’ll see your husband soon. And you can talk to him often! And remember, people are probably thinking you’re lazy.

But I feel like I can’t move! So very tired. So very heartsick.

But back to the walk… Just after I start on that good-idea walk, I am terrorized by a German shepherd. He’s fenced; but he’s jumping, growling, salivating. He is Enemy. Devil. How very familiar. He wants me—I see the hunger in his eyes and hear the desire in his bark. And suddenly, he nearly makes it over the fence! His body straddles the top and writhes to get to me, and his barking gets more ferocious—frantic. My heart clenches. I know this is it. I’m gonna be mauled right here. Because, why not? It seems fitting, maybe. Finally, he loses his battle. His back legs drop down into his yard. Tears drop down out of my eyes. But he’s still revved up from the nearness of his escape. His attack. I walk quickly—run—to vacate his territory. And my heart doesn’t loosen for a very long time.

This walk was a bad idea.

I feel like I’m having a heart attack. Maybe I really am.

It’s raining. It always rains here. It’s sunny where Scotty is.

He will go to sleep soon. It’s his night.

What happens when I have to walk past that dog’s yard on my way back? I should report this to the police. Why don't I carry pepper spray? Why isn’t there any other way out of this neighborhood? 

Why isn’t there any other way out of the hardness of this life?

What’s happened? How did I get here? I don’t even recognize myself.

My hands are so cold.

This walk is much nicer when my man is with me. I miss him.

I miss Minnesota. The leaves there... they SING. They're so drab here.

I walk down the cedar tree-lined tunnel that we love. But I can’t find the love. Those trees don’t smell so lovely. There is no sun to peek through the green. And I ache for my husband. Maybe both of my husbands.

But then I see some beauty. A tree ablaze. And one whose leaves are both cherries and lemons. The self-satisfaction of having chosen (and first, made) a warm handknit for my head. Bluegrass through my earbuds. And wait…is that a break in the clouds?

My head is clearing. A walk was a good idea. And now I can see a bit better the care my God has for me in this hard spot. I don’t understand even my feelings about it—much less the divine purposes in it—but I can say with the Psalmist,
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:13-14)

But oh, I have to grip that. When I don’t feel the strength and the song, I remind Him that He has promised—and He must do.


  1. Love you Emily... thanks for the window into your soul...

  2. The Father's continued strength for this journey be manifested in you.

    Blessings on you sister.

  3. The Father's continued strength for this journey be manifested in you.

    Blessings on you sister.

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