Let in the good, keep out the bad.
It is the way that I function most days.
But for me, the bad isn’t something that I “let in.” The pain already exists within me.
My battle is internal. I know that I have to allow myself to feel all of the good and the bad to experience true healing, but more often than not, what I feel really hurts. It takes such an emotional and physical toll on me that I have become an expert at trying to ignore anything that isn’t conducive to my emotional stability. 😉
I was explaining my avoidance techniques to a friend on the phone today. I do everything I can to feel “normal” (or at least the new normal I have created) until a huge wave of grief is triggered, and then I find myself thrown back into the darkness and the pain. It is, after all just waiting beneath the surface. And each time I feel the true extent of my grief, I have to claw my way back out of that difficult place. It is exhausting and overwhelming to feel such a significant amount of heaviness and grief again and again. I told her that I sometimes I have to take a day only minutes at a time, and that when I am in “the dark place” it is impossible to function or to see beyond all of the grief.
Her advice was to repeat a phrase to myself, a mantra if you will. Something that would help me remember how far I have come.
“I am a survivor, and I’m still here.”
She had no idea how her words would transport me back in time.
Suddenly in my mind’s eye, I was holding my sweet husband’s hand in the emergency room as countless doctors and nurses scurried around us. I saw him emphatically tapping his chest with his hand. With a look of pleading in his eyes, and with a great amount of effort he vocalized, “I’m still here.” He must have repeated himself at least ten times as the scans were taken, and while the many tubes and wires were attached to his body. Over and over again.
He was desperate to let me know that he was still inside of his broken body. That he was more than what the doctors were seeing. More than a stroke victim or the symptoms that were so horrifying and humiliating for him. More than the broken man that he knew he must seem to be.
He wanted me to know.
HE was still there. My best friend. The father of my children. He was still himself on the inside.
Of all of the traumatic moments that I try to avoid, that scene in the emergency room is one of the hardest to remember. But what I would give to be able to relive it. I would gladly take all of the fear, shock, and heartache just to be able to hear him tell me one more time:
“I’m still here.”
And yet I know that he is.
Though I can’t hear his voice, I know that if I could get a glimpse of the other side, I would be able to see him holding me when it all is just to much, walking beside me as I make difficult decisions, smiling as our children grow, and cheering for me when I make progress in this new journey. I’m sure that he is here with me more than I will ever know.
I miss him.
But I know, he’s still here.
And so am I.