Dealing with the past 20 years with a view to healing, health and wholeness has been a move from death to new life. I live with PTSD everyday, my life is nothing it was, and I am coming to grips with a new norm. I’m a survivor, and reflecting on what that means daily. Five years removed from my first collapse, three years removed from my first real effort to come to grips with it, a year of successful treatment and counseling, I can say I have been through the valley of the shadow of death, through the valley of dry bones, through many dark nights of the soul and emerged on the other side, on to the new day and new life.
I wish the journey to this point had been easier. I wish there had been a more peaceful world, no plagues, no mass graves, no floods, no good byes to loved ones. I remember Guyaquil, Irbil, Kirkuk, Nablus, Bilin, Kalandia and beyond, Oakville and the many relief/recovery teams. Somewhere in the midst of the flood recovery, the summer of ’09 the descent became collapse.
You cannot know what this experience is like without going through it. The slow bleeding out of empathy…part of me was dying. To just feel nothing…no pain, no joy, no grief…numbness. I remember Johnny Cash’s last song “Hurt.” Especially that lyric, “I hurt myself today, to see if I could feel.” That resonates with my experience. It has been a journey to a new life, one day at a time, one step at a time. And I write this to say there is always hope I have a new life after those small deaths that’s so radically change our lifes. I can never be what I was in the same way again but for those who live with the reality of the pain I can be there to help them walk through the experience in their journey from one chapter of their life to another.
I know what it is to feel the deepest emotions and decision making ability stripped away. To feel your soul emptied out and to long for feeling again. I know the terror of those dreams that I can’t articulate, to wake up in cold sweat heart racing, have running from the demons of my past. Slowly feeling does come back and the longing for honest companionship but so many bridges burned. So the journey back comes to an end. I had to give up trying to reclaim trying to recapture friends and life, in order to find the direction and path that God had set me on anew. I wish I could say that I’ve totally emerged from the condition but I know there are days and moments when it’s back again. Life at this point is a journey and those we meet along the way we hold closer because so much has been lost. And that’s what I’m thinking of this Thanksgiving. Thankful for those we have made this journey with me sorry for those who have been hurt along the way resolved to move forward in your life.