Posttraumatic Growth–A Choice

Hey-hey-hey! I got a major paper done today on post trauma growth. I am way ahead on my school work. I suppose there is an upside to being housebound.
By the way, the research is still in the infancy stages, but everything I train about my process of grieving in resiliency training is dead spot on. There is an element of choice and cognitive thought. In other words, those two decisions I made without really thinking about it were pivotal.
The first decision was to fall into my faith. I have frequently spoken of and written of the last conscious thought I had when I was hearing those awful life-changing words. As I fell to my knees keening, one thought crossed my mind. How can I claim to have faith if in my darkest hour I turned. I chose to fall into my faith and that was the first step in my journey of the new Linda.
While faith has been important to me since I was a young child, the faith I fell into is different. Yes, my spiritual faith is blazing, but it may not look the same to others. I do not always go to church. It is hard to sit alone when one spent every day of her life sitting next to someone at church. It is hard to sit alone, to be lonely surrounded by people, and to not fit in. My faith is action. I try to live my values.
While living my values sounds simple it is not. I value my relationship with my child more than I value being right. I have come to realize that my adult child realizes what I think and my opinions, but he needs to know that I love him unconditionally. It isn’t easy because I want to fix him-fix others, but my value is the person. I spent so much of my life trying to fix others that I forgot to fix myself sometimes. With Phil’s death, I struggled to hold it all together and in that loss of my own self-control, I became a better mom and friend.
That decision to fall into my faith, also allowed me to concentrate on being grateful for the 23 years I did have versus the loss of the dream of the future that I wanted. I would give anything to grow old with Phil, but many people spend their whole life looking for a love like that. I am thankful I know what it is to love well and to be loved well. That gratitude also gives me hope that maybe, just maybe it is possible to have that kind of love again. I don’t know if it is possible, but because of that last face to face what if conversation with Phil, I am open to it. It is deeply humbling to remember Phil asking me, “If you died first, would you want me to be happy again?” Why, yes, yes I would. This hope is part of my spiritual resilience.
My humor stands as a further testimony of my spiritual resiliency. I never realized that the Ambard/Short method of laughing at everyone–ourselves most of all—would be so healing. Early on, I got tired of the dark cloud that seemed to press in on every front. Pink, polka dots, bubbles, and sparkles make me smile. For those that have known me for a long time, you can attest to a girl that tended to hide in the shadows and to a girl that stuck with comfortable. I am not her any more. I push the envelope and have stopped wasting time on wondering what people are thinking. I just do what feels right for me. This humor that I carry sparks something in my heart because humor produces optimism and optimism produces hope.
The second decision not to let the assassin have me too is something that has had the biggest impact on my lifework and purpose. When I saw Phil’s autopsy photos which were to horrific to talk about, I broke. In my brokenness, I chose to not let the assassin have me too. I knew that if I quit living that the assassin essentially got two of us. I take time in my relationships now. That isn’t easy either because it is easier to put time with others off, but I have started to respond to those gentle heart nudges
that decision I made not to let the assassin have me too was a critical pivotal point. Who would have thought?
With that decision came a fire that I cannot explain, but it is a need or my breath to speak and write on military issues. Even if I save one person, the assassin doubly lost because he made me stronger and more capable as a response to his choices. For every life he took and for every scar he left, I will spend ever second, every day, living out loud and doing what I can to offer a lifeline to others. That meaning making gets me up in the morning.
PTG does start with that cognitive component of choice. I never thought about it, still don’t, but I do recognize that there were two choices made without a thought that have made all of the difference. I speak and write now not for me, but for those families coming after me. I suppose that is decision three.

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