Tonight in the middle of moving hell, my daughter hopped a curb on her bike and went tumbling down a hill. She took a pretty bad fall complete with a head slam to the ground. Thankfully, she was on grass and gravel. Thankfully, I’m too traumatized to step foot into a hospital since I haven’t been in one since the day my husband went on hospice care last year so I make her wear a helmet. It rung her bell a little, but she’s ok. Her new school pants weren’t so lucky.
When I walked over to her, probably way too calmly because I’m just exhausted, I thought about what to say. I come from a long line of “suck it up, you’re fine”. I grew up in a loving home but mental and physical toughness was instilled on me at a young age and I oftentimes have a hard time with the tears and drama. But my current situation has me a ball of emotions and I want her to know it’s ok to cry. It’s a tough balance- raising a daughter to bounce back when crappy things happen and still letting her know it’s ok to feel things. The PTSD I have after watching my husband suffer and die and the last year of trauma I’ve experienced had me panicking a little in my head because I do not, for any reason, want to have to take my child to Children’s Hospital ER in the middle of a global pandemic. I was thankful not to see bones sticking out anywhere. When I got to her, I said the only thing I knew to say, and my own words slapped me directly in the face. It felt more profound to me than it probably ever will to her. The joys of being 7.
I told her that she’s going to fall. And it’s going to hurt. I told her she had to just get up and try again another day. Then I pushed her bike back home for her while she limped along behind me.
I’ve fallen. Over and over again, I’ve failed. I have felt so low in the last year that I didn’t think I would ever feel normal again, whatever normal is. I clung to things I thought were good for me and to me when they were destroying what was left of my soul. I have been there on the proverbial ground, bleeding, in pain, and mad at the world because I was hurt again. I’ve learned that there is healing in the fall. The real growth that has happened in my life over the last year didn’t happen when everything was going great, it happened when I was in the deepest pain of my life, betrayed and hurt by the one person I thought I could count on after my husband died. He broke me and left me to die.
I wasn’t aware of my own suffering. I was powering though life, ignoring everything that felt like grief. I was in a constant cycle of replacing the bad feelings with good ones, even when the good feelings were killing me when my back was turned. I was being abused and used in plain sight, completely oblivious to it.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD my therapist told me I actually have CPTSD, because my trauma has been compounded by more trauma due to an abusive relationship I should’ve never been in. Life may have been different had I not gone head to head with a liar, cheater, and raging narcissist. But it’s not. What happens now is the healing from what broke me and continuously pulling myself up and finding my way back home.
When you fall and fail, you have two choices. It’s easy to lay there and cry about it while you bleed all over the place. It’s almost comforting to know that that’s an option, but it’s gets you nowhere. You have to get up. You have to drag what’s left of yourself home. Ask someone to push your bike if you need to, but you have to keep moving. Cry if you need to, the tears will eventually stop.
As I tucked my sweet baby into bed, she laughed about it. She said “Mama I almost made it”.
Yes you did, child. And one day you’ll hop that curb like it was nothing. One day, it will be the most distant memory and the sting of the gravel will be long gone, because where that raw scrape is now will toughen up and you’ll be stronger than ever.
Grief management. Like riding a bike.