For the past 2 1/2 years I have done little but work and recover from major wounds and trauma that occurred over a three month period beginning in November 2011. Physical degeneration and excruciating pain led to neurosurgery. An unexpected layoff led to unemployment. Financial insecurity led to fear. Securing a new job led to the inevitable stress of fitting into a new (and vastly different) work culture. The fire that almost killed me destroyed far more than material possessions and led to months of severe shock and depression. Moving home after my apartment was remodeled led to frequent bouts of insomnia as I paced the floors convinced I smelled smoke. Battling the demons of so many major, traumatic and painful life events in such a short period of time led to physical decline. I worked too much, ate too much, exercised too little, slept too little and usually curled up into a ball to watch television when I arrived home at the end of the day.
I've spent many hours contemplating how I survived it all without ending up in a straight jacket or worse. Obviously the strength and love of others helped, and my faith carried me through the deepest valleys, but can I just admit that I'm tired? Still? Sometimes I feel guilty for not rebuilding faster and for not responding better, but surviving and recovering are both hard work and I was incapable of doing more than I did.
So this weekend, instead of celebrating life with a big party or fancy dinner, I chose to celebrate by enjoying the mundane and ordinary events that mark a normal life.
No drama and no trauma were my motto.
I tried something new and played BINGO with my boss and some co-workers. I talked to one of my favorite people for a few hours. I took my friend's 9-year-old son to his basketball award’s ceremony (his parents had a fund raiser to attend). I took my beloved dog Zeus for an extra-long walk and hugged him a little tighter as I remembered how he gently woke me up as smoke engulfed our home. I reveled in a big hug from my Godson and stayed to play a little longer because he asked me to. I ate a little better, laughed a little harder and loved a little deeper. I read the Sermon on the Mount and understood it a little better, and chose to thank God for his mercy, even though it has often been disguised as trauma.
No one gets through this life without pain, but all of us get the chance to learn from it. I want to celebrate by growing into a kinder, gentler and more serene woman. To live in humility and grace, cherishing every second with the people who mysteriously find a way to love me despite my quirks and insecurities. I want to boldly engage even when I'm terrified or have already been hurt. I want to forgive freely and remember less the wounds that have been inflicted; to love more and give vulnerably and completely to those I love. I want to celebrate by really living and loving, knowing that those efforts are never wasted.
Then I'll have a real party and I may even DANCE!