Now, along with this new grief, I must welcome Steve into the club of which no one would ever choose to be a member. The Over-comers club all you need to join is a nice dose of PTSD, the initiation sucks and the dues are steep. We pay daily with flashbacks of the most terrible thing we have ever experienced, sleepless nights, suicidal thoughts, and mind chatter that triggers tears, wall punching, and cold sweats. This clubs main mission is to overcome and make it through without hiding under rocks in the form of drugs, alcohol or victim-hood. I am the self appointed president of this club and since I believe, you cannot teach without learning nor learn without teaching, all members play a part in the healing of the next. However, I have to admit that I find myself angry that I must relive so much pain to show Steve the way through his. At times, I see him suffering and am paralyzed, unable to reach out and comfort him as I feel my own pain bubble up, the empathy hinders my ability to help here. In the book, The untethered Soul, there is an analogy about a thorn. It talks about how we sometimes arrange our life around our pain, doing all we can not to have anything brush against the thorn causing us pain. If we just take the time to remove the thorn, we are no longer a slave to the habits we form while avoiding the disturbances. In my pain, I recognize the avoidance in many ways. From turning a blind eye to Steves suffering, to how I choose not to hear certain music, eat certain foods, drive down specific streets ect. All these things I avoid keep me a slave to this pain. So I begin to remove this thorn now in small ways. Yesterday I bought the big jar of peanut butter pretzels that Jake loved and I always had on hand for him and included in every care package. It sits on the counter unopened as a symbol of one more bridge crossed as Jakes brothers and sister recognize it as exactly that.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
So I choose to believe that those who have overcome and embrace the imperfections and beauty in life will lead us all to the light. My hope is to become one of these leaders and infuse it into my children. All my children, even those from other mothers. I see this dream realized here and there. I saw it the other night when Jakes best friend Chuck was over, telling me about his fiances anxiety and constant worry and how he made her sit and watch The Secret, like I had made him and Jake when they were in high school or, for example Jojo, starting the ever intimidating and dreaded middle school with all the peer pressure you can imagine, she has already amazed me in how she presents herself in this new arena. On the first day of school she discovered her special needs cousin was also experiencing her first day and realized quickly that this frail sweet girl was most likely even more uncomfortable than she. Jojo reached out right away, introducing her cousin to her friends, sitting with her at lunch and looking out for her in PE. My little 11 year old "lady girl" is a gift, and a constant reminder that compassion and empathy are infinite. She already gets that everybody has a story, and their own struggles and never considers herself a victim. I learn so much from her.