January 5, 2021

Starting over After Trauma: How to Deal with the Pain, Emptiness & Grief.

I am in the process of writing a book—a tell-tale, truthful account of my life up until now.

Here’s my description: It starts with a rocky childhood full of pits and valleys and a joyful, childlike demeanor torn through thrilling accounts of addictive behavior and recklessness. The girl (me) is eventually saved by grace and overcomes to embrace a second chance at life.

It sounds heroic, doesn’t it?

Not really. I avoided disaster on many occasions, and there are times it could have or should have ended, but it didn’t, and for that I can only thank a higher power that was looking out for me.

My first marriage started out like a fairy tale. Girl meets boy while they are stumbling drunk, smoking cigarettes, and listening to Ani Difranco.

Girl re-meets boy around the tables of Alcoholics Anonymous. Since they are the only two young people who are mildly attractive and had met previously, they start a sober kinship through their dark, messy lives and emotionalism.

A harmless smooch over ice cream turns into more, and the girl is expecting a child. Dreams are put on hold, and this young girl and boy must mold themselves into a sober husband, wife, and soon-to-be parents.

A child is born—a beautiful boy—after a traumatic birth ending in an emergency C-section. Two scared young ones take this child home to raise him up well while looking at one another expectantly—do we really have what it takes?

Sobriety, parenting, financial struggle, relationship struggles. Two young children trying to find their way while trying their best to raise a child.

Glasses break against walls, tires peel out of driveways, screaming, crying, thrashing—the first year of marriage. Therapy, conversation, friends, and support. Reaching out. Finding ourselves. Loving this boy. An affair, inpatient treatment, more therapy, and friends to reach out to.

And eventually an end.

A rebirth. A rising. An amicable friendship.

New relationships, a larger family. More people to love this boy. A best friend, a brother.

But I can still feel the irreversible pain of falling on the floor knowing my marriage had ended all those years ago. Waking in the night, not knowing how I would do it on my own.

How I sabotaged a relationship in my life, not knowing how to communicate or react to situations that I couldn’t control.

How I ran from every good thing in my life for fear of succeeding or failing.

How I held myself back and projected childhood hurts on to everyone in my life.

How I couldn’t see beyond my outer protective shell into who I was hurting and lashing out on.

We are lucky to have been able to start again and have a beautiful, family-type relationship because we were able to get healthy and put our son first. Our new partners have been only supportive of our family unit. We have grown and matured and come together versus apart.

I spoke to my 21-year-old son yesterday to ask him some questions about his childhood.

I seem to remember both traumatic and joyful things happening to me as young as three and four. My own sweet son says he has no recollection of any of the things I brought up to ask him about. He is clearly not affected by the guilt I have carried for so long. I apologized for my part in his upbringing that may not have been peaceful and for hurting his father, and he accepted my apology with no recollection of what I was talking about.

I have to believe that even though he doesn’t recall the details of his early years that I know we did something right. My son formed a secure attachment to his mother and father and felt loved and cared for. He continues to have a broad family of people who are there for him and who he can call on.

In our younger years, we all make mistakes. I am thankful to have been given another chance. I am grateful to be able to fess up to my inferiorities and errors and to apologize when I have been erratic and insane.

The worst feeling is the elephant in the room and a family dialogue that gets brushed under the rug, covered up by years and years of guilt and regret.

I pray I always have the ability to come clean when I can see my part and to fix my wrongs. To create a home of truth and clarity, where we are not afraid to admit our mistakes and shortcomings, where love wins and truth prevails. No mistake is too great to be lessened, and nothing omits us from receiving our value as human beings doing the best we can with what we’ve been given at the time.

More will always be revealed, but as we encounter a new year, I choose to be grateful for accountability and a family who sees me as I am—flaws, truth, and all.

Let this be the year of uncovering, righting our wrongs, and speaking our truth—the world needs more truth.



Read 35 Comments and Reply

Read 35 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Melissa Steussy  |  Contribution: 142,125

author: Melissa Steussy

Image: Engin Akyurt/Pexels

Editor: Robert Busch

Relephant Reads:

See relevant Elephant Video