I developed a reaction to hearing about trauma, watching traumatic movies, or even talking to my friends about their trauma in the past few years. It confused me, at first.
During the pursuit of my master's degree (in Clinical Psychology), I learned loads about understanding people's traumas, getting them to open up about it, and how to hold space for them to allow them to process it once and for all. All while, feeling totally at peace with all my trauma. It felt very natural during my years counseling, to talk to people about their stuff, and to help them work through it all.
Like the vast majority of us, I experienced my own traumas through out life, much of which I write about in my book; and I consider myself blessed to have had the mom that I do. She really taught us at an early age to face life head on, and to truly deal with all that happens.
Things will come up for me present day, and I think, "Wow where did that come from?" Not always is it something from the past, sometimes it's just that the present moment is the trauma. Being directly in trauma, and being fully aware of it, is intense. It's knowing the big punches that come from progressed ALS will happen, but learning not to live in the moments fearing what's to come.
There is so much trauma in ALS. Starting from the days of Steve falling and cracking his face open, to him breaking bones while falling, to him coding, to him dying and coming back, to the times of gastroparesis and having to dig vomit out of his throat before he aspirated, to the respiratory distress moments, and every single random complication that is too much to list here, hence writing a book. Yesterday was somehow another first for us.
During a routine catheter change, that Steve has done roughly every 2 weeks due to infections, and clogging of catheters. Upon taking the catheter out, he began gushing blood. Yes from there. Of course as I'm in the midst of freaking out, and calling nurses, in laws, and my mom; I maintain some composure for Steve. All while, thinking for sure we are rushing to the hospital for this one, and confused with Steve's refusal.
Thankfully the bleeding stopped mostly (still a little drips this morning), we got a new catheter in with ease, and he's putting out great urine output, all from home. Yesterday after my father in law and I finally got him cleaned up and settled after 3 hours of really being in that moment, I left the room shaking. I felt my nerves giving up on me one by one, and it suddenly hit me. I can't be exposed to other people's trauma's because I'm in the middle of my own. It's not that I've become less caring or empathetic, but that I am doing the best I can here with my own.
People often look at Steve and I and think, "What are they doing?" We know it, some people say it to us directly, and others just think it. We know both, trust me. We feel it from you when you're sitting with us and you're thinking, "Just what is this." I've lost close friends because they question our life, and will cut you off rather than address the issue face on.
Often feeling weak in my inability to adequately express myself to people, without truly being able to take the space to step back and see it all for what it is. Most days with Steve we don't have trauma, and even if something traumatic happens it's just part of our day. This life is full of surprising, "Woah hold on tight it's getting bumpy," and equal parts, "Wow what a beautiful gift this is."
Just because the traumatic events are intense, doesn't mean we are willing to give this up. Of course, Steve has moments of being done with this journey, mostly in the moment of something challenging, but when he comes out he's back with vigor. His strength is less, his communication is less, his participation is less, but his spirit is MORE.
His spirit reminds me every single day, this journey we are on, serves a very high purpose. I'm changed after each traumatic event. I see life through new eyes, as often as people are dying their hair these days. The world is vastly different to me, than it was just a year ago; and I have peace. Today despite the trauma, and the ways in which it truly kicks my ass, and the tornado warnings happening for us; I feel at peace.
The peace may not stay, and I may get my ass kicked by something even within the hour, but right now all is okay. Right now I'm thankful, and that is how I deal with trauma. I allow the space in between to fill me up. You know when we met Dave Matthews a few years ago, there was this connection between him and us; and our two friends that were with us still talk about it to this day. Because somehow he knew his lyrics were made for people like us, because, "The space between the tears we cry, is the laughter that keeps us coming back for more."