10 days ago was an ‘anniversary day’. A day of ‘its 8 years on’.
This year I decided not to blog about it. I just shared a few thoughts on FB/twitter and left it at that.
There is not a day that goes by, no matter what I am doing, who I am with and how cheerful I feel where at some point it does not run across my mind somewhere, sometimes just fleetingly, sometimes for longer. The memory. Of that day. And all that was lost. But this year I had a positive day.
8 years on I am still here. I am learning to love and be loved again and I was able to not mourn for what I lost but be thankful for who I am and who I am becoming.
A friend of mine, Steve says this – ‘Its ok to look back, just don’t stare’. I love that quote. But sometimes I do find myself staring. I can’t help it. Like the last few days. After such a positive week last week, passing through the ‘8 year anniversary’ it felt like the rug was pulled from under my feet, when in the early hours of the Sunday I had a flashback. It came out of the blue. They always do come so out of the blue. No warning. Often no trigger. And it was like a stomach punch, and like having an elephant stamping on my chest. I threw up. I often do (classy, right?). Panic started to rise. Fear flooded in. And my mind and body was invaded. By thoughts and physical feelings I can’t stop.
It isn’t pretty, and yet in the ‘it is not pretty’ aftermath I realised it was not as messy as it can be. Somehow I made it to church. Somehow, although I cried through most of it, I allowed myself to be loved, hugged, and supported by friends without flinching, or wanting to punch anyone who tried to touch me. And somehow I was able to still worship God in my own way that day.
It can take weeks to fully recover, but it felt like this time round, recovering was coming a little bit quicker. Until …
Tuesday came … just 48 hours later. I was cooking some food to take to connect later in the evening (we eat together every week before we meet and if you’ve never thought about it, and its a possibility, do it, such a great community time). I had stuff to do after lunch, and places to be.
And then my mind was taken over. Again. And I was back there. In that place. And so it started all over again. I don’t really have the words to fully be able to express just how they make you feel. Or how they make me feel. Everyone is different.
But its traumatic. Its reliving the trauma. And with each one a different memory is pulled to the forefront more than anything else. And things your mind has chosen, or things you have chosen to block are unblocked. And you can’t stop staring. You can’t stop staring back. Because its there. Its as if it happened yesterday.
For me to have two flashbacks in the space of two days is unusual. Ive never had that happen before. And on top of the current spell of horrific nightmares its made the last few days pretty rough. Pretty tough going.
And yet Tuesday was the same as Sunday in terms of messiness. It was messy, but not as messy as it could have been.
My afternoon plans got cancelled, so after doing a few little jobs to help someone out I went for a drive. nd found myself in a garden centre having a cup of tea and listening to some music. Remembering.
And as I drove home, it started to rain. And as it started to rain, I started to cry. And I ended up stopping the car (driving and crying is quite hard) and getting out. And walking. Through some random field (sorry farmer). My clothes got wet. My hair got wet. My feet got wet. My tears merged in with the rain.
When I got back to my car I had a text (I probably should have taken my phone with me right) asking how I was doing. I looked at it, and wanted to reply. I wanted to reply with ‘I’m wet, fucking wet, and I want to throw myself on the floor, in the rain, and have a tantrum. Like a toddler. I want to scream. And shout. As loud as I possibly can. That its not fair. None of this is fucking fair’. The text was from my Pastor. He would have been fine with that, I’m pretty sure. But I decided to wait until I got home to reply. Until I was home, and dry and more calm. So I started to drive back. And as I thought about the tantrum I was so desperate to have, the cross came into my mind. An image of a wooden cross. With someone hanging on it. Jesus. And He was looking at me. And I was looking at Him. And that made me cry (again), I know I know (would you believe me if I told you I NEVER used to cry?). Seeing this image of Jesus hanging there thinking about my tantrum made me wonder whether Jesus ever felt like having one? Wonder if Jesus ever felt like stomping, sulking, door slamming, item throwing, screaming, lying on the floor banging his fists, kicking his feet, crying, swearing.
I wonder if Jesus ever felt like having a tantrum?
I wonder if Jesus ever felt like having a tantrum in amongst the pain He had to endure? Because He did have pain to endure. Much of it.
He knew what it was like to be hurt. Emotionally, and physically. He knew what it was like to lose someone, as we know when Lazarus died ‘He wept’. We know He cried over Jerusalem. And we know He was betrayed by a friend. Judas. That must have hurt like hell. We have to accept and acknowledge that Jesus had feelings. Emotions. If we don’t we can’t accept His full humanity. That He was a living breathing person walking on earth, as physically as you and I do now. So He knew pain.
And He knew the pain of the cross. The pain from the thorn of crowns. The nails, the spear going into his side. The whipping before hand, the scorching sun beating down on His bruised body. I can’t imagine it.
So yeah, He knew pain. And He took it. Sure, He might have said ‘really?’. He might have asked ‘why’? But He took it.
He took the pain. For me.
And I realised driving home that I am not in this alone. I really am not in this alone because I have amazing friends covering the land, and a local community of people surrounding me who have become family. I am not in this alone because I have people who love me, and who I love greatly too.
And I am not in this alone because in my pain, whatever pain that might be, I have Jesus.
And He gets it. He gets my pain.
I still don’t have all the answers (and I know and have finally accepted I never will) and I still have a walk to walk.
But suddenly in that moment, the ‘journey’ took another step forward.
My understanding of God and my relationship with Jesus took another step forward.
And I have to remember that, when it gets choppy.
And as I said at the beginning of this blog that no matter what, 8 years on I am still here. I am learning to love and be loved again and am I am thankful for who I am and who I am becoming.
And I am thankful for the cross. For Jesus. Who gave it all so I could live.
‘Because you lived I have life
Because you loved I have life
Within and despite all the pain and strife,
Because you lived I have life
Because you loved I have life’
You wonder if Jesus ever had a tantrum. It is quite possible he did as a child, which are unreported. As an adult, the only incident where he became angry and had what might be described as a tantrum, albeit justified, is to be found in Matthew 21:12:
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” (NIV).
I’m glad to know I’m not the only Christian who has felt the way this blogger has. Thanks so much for sharing
Thanks for sharing your story Helen. I’m walking the same journey as you. Flashbacks aren’t cool. Do all those scientists out there realise that time travel has already been invented? It’s called flashbacks. Bless you for your real ness and honesty. May His Grace fall on you like golden drops of rain.