The Emotional Scars of Trauma

Its my monthly reflections day and although I felt the urge to write over the past week I feel its important to write in the moment on this day – the 4th of the month. Three years 8months since I hugged my child (although I hug her everyday in my mind). I go over that last hug each day and feel her embrace. Rehtaeh gave great hugs.
As December started to approach I started to feel emotionally constricted. Another Christmas without her and another BDay she will never celebrate. I think when I contemplated that this will be the 4th Christmas without her in it somehow seems like so much time has passed. Yet it seems like yesterday she was here with us. Time is such a bizarre concept.
I gave many presentations in the month of November right here in Nova Scotia. I feel blessed to be given a voice for my child to be heard. I feel honoured to share who she was and what her message is going forward. Its very important for me to do this work on her behalf. People say “Your so strong!” but in reality I embraced a path that was put in front of me. I chose to walk towards the grief/pain – allow the pain to be my companion as we explored together. I continue to explore feelings/thoughts -showing curiousity and questioning what is true and what are the stories my mind tries to tell me. But what I keep coming back to this month is something a friend brought up – the scars of trauma.
We all love to see people overcome adversity and challenges. To rise from the ashes and embrace the lessons we learn from our pain. Its true there are gifts in pain and trauma. It is true that sometimes the people that suffer most can shine a light for others to see that there is hope and light in the darkness. We all need hope in our lives. But its also true that we can not and should not ignore the “scarring” . Trauma and deep loss leave scars that we carry forth in our life. The loss of my child Rehtaeh Parsons has left me deeply scarred. When she was born I finally felt “I got it right this time!” You see up until that day Dec 9th 1995 I often felt like a failure. She changed my life in so many ways for the better. I felt thrilled to be her Mom. I will never forget being a first time Mom and how it changed me forever. You know those defining life moments when you say “It was this moment that made me change my thinking, life etc….?” It truly was a life changing day for me.
Now, I wake in tears more times than I wish. I have to manage my energy levels daily. I feel irritable out of the blue and dont know why but something in my body triggers these feelings. I get overwhelmed at things that were once so easy to do. I like to be alone more than I admit. Some people may look at me and think “she has overcome so much and is able embrace life again”
I do embrace life the best way I can because I made a couple promises early on this path: 1) To be kind to myself each and every day 2) Not to become bitter and angry 3) Honour her life and my love for her 4) To be there for my other two girls .
I am proud to say I do keep these promises but again the price paid for pain/suffering is deep. Yes, we can be hopeful and inspiring yet deeply scarred people. We are not either/or … We carry all of these emotions and its important to be able to share and look at the scars too.
This month has already been very challenging and the pain is asking to be felt/heard. The pain is part of who I am and I will walk alongside and hold hands with this feeling. I will laugh too. I will make those cookies with my girls. I will celebrate Rehtaeh’s 21st Birthday when it arrives. I will feel sad that my child is not here to share these experiences because I am scarred. I will have flashbacks that seem like a horror movie because they are my scars. I will feel irritable and anger. These are my scars but they are just a few of them. I suffer deeply each and every day yet feel blessed to have a heart that remains open and loving.
Life is not about “not suffering” its what we do in the moments of suffering. Walking towards……beside..within the emotions.

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