Here. Here.

This past year I feel like I have been spun out of orbit. I exist in some other realm. Problem is, there’s no milk, bread, coffee, or oil changes in that other realm, so I come “into town,” buy my coffee, get my oil changed, pick up some kale. I understand why people stare at me. They must be wondering how I can engage in such pedestrian activities after living through such a horror. 

Here’s the thing, though. I’m just visiting normal world to partake of its goods. I haven’t fully made the re-entry. I don’t belong here. I belong in that other realm, where people live through horrors and buy the kale and get the oil changed.

I’ve been diligently engaged in healthy activities–reading poetry, novels, and magazines, playing tennis with the kids, kayaking with or without them, breathing through yoga poses, wandering around meadows while daughter rides a horse. These are all good for body and mind. They are part of rebuilding a life.

But here’s what scares me–These healthy activities are not returning me to normal world. I’m building a life, brick by brick, over there in bizarro realm. I fear that these bricks are closing me in, in some sort of bunker, over here in bizarro world. I’m scared that I’ll never return to normal world. I’ll just be a lone kayaker, a Boo Radley, one of those white-haired ladies with a PBS tote bag, quiet and content, seen but not part of this community.

“Tell me again so that I can understand this,” my therapist urged, as I tried to explain that I’m over here, and everybody else is over there.

And here’s what she told me–I feel alienated, because I’m having trouble integrating my experiences. There’s the trauma, and there’s the resumption of everyday life. Trauma doesn’t integrate easily.

So that’s the problem–I’m of two minds. There’s the person I was in the community I lived in, and the person who found her husband, dying at his own hand. I’m both of those things. The unfortunate fact is that I don’t get to leave bizarro experience behind.  It’s a part of me now. I have to accept that. But it’s just a matter of “integrating” who I thought I was becoming and the person I have become. That’s all. Integrate. There’s no “normal world” to come back to, because I’m already in it, I’m right here.

I guess that’s why the therapist was puzzled. I have a distinct physical feeling that I’m not here, but she’s looking at me sitting right there, able to see that all of this is happening inside of me. 

I’m here.

For someone who has felt like she’s been floating for the last year, there is no small solace in this. I’m here.


5 thoughts on “Here. Here.

  1. Your therapist sounds like a very smart and intuitive person. I fully believe that humans are remarkably resistant creatures and eventually you won’t just be going through the motions of living. Someday you’ll be able to integrate your trauma into your personal HISTORY and leave it in the past where it belongs.

  2. There was in interesting interview recently on NPR with an author who had written a memoir about his brother’s murder (Run, Brother, Run – David Berg). He said something that woke me up out of my sleepy morning state: “It’s very hard to explain except to say that when a loved one disappears you become detached from anything even remotely that could be described as a normal life.” Oh yes, I knew exactly what he was talking about – and – what you are talking about…the “re-integrating” piece of it is just as strange, and hard.

  3. There’s solace knowing that this is part of a process, when you hear how common it is. Something is happening, our brains know how to do this. And, yes, Jean, time may be a great healer as this all gets layered in history. But for now, today, it don’t feel right. Gotta trust the process.

  4. Exactly. And what I find so goddamn hard is I can’t find the language to tell you how I feel. If I can’t tell you, then I’m even more alienated. I miss my son and I still can’t believe he’s dead; every time I say it I feel a little more sick inside.

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