It’s funny how a magical, beautiful moment can bring on the same intensity as a painful, traumatic moment. Polarity exists in everything. As they say, there is no darkness without light, there is no pain without joy. One extreme emotion simply cannot exist without the opposite extreme emotion.
When you have been traumatized, you are like a dog that’s been bitten. You flinch at life. Afraid that anyone or anything may re-traumatize you. That is until you heal, and healing takes vulnerability.
I have a strong desire to heal, which is why I am choosing to stay extremely vulnerable on my journey through recovery.
It’s been 4 months since our world was flipped upside down through a bout of domestic violence. Since Halloween 2021, both children have been hospitalized, our dog has been severely injured twice, we’ve been “dumped” by the people we called family for 16 years, we’ve had to list the home, navigate a divorce and face financial hurdles.
And most recently, my nephew was shot and killed at 34 years old. Shot and killed.
If that’s not the final kick to the gut, I can’t imagine what will be.
Hope and optimism have always been overly abundant for me. It’s true, I’ve had to tap into them much more than usual over the past 4 months, but there is nothing that will every dry my well. That is a decision I made, a long time ago.
My favorite song in the whole world is “Better Days” by The Goo Goo Dolls. Even when things were great in my life, so many of the lyrics to that song spoke to me. My favorite line is:
“And you ask me what I want this year, and I try to make this kind and clear, just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days. “
Whether things are great or challenging, I’m always keenly aware that there is still a chance for better days.
Back to the concept of polarity. The flip side of having an overload of hope and abundance during difficult times, is the idea that things always can and will get better, even when things are seemingly great.
Anyone that has had more than one conversation with me knows that I am a master at poking holes in things. I can quickly identify problems and sniff out bullshit. Some may call this a pessimist or a perfectionist, but I call it an opportunist. I can see the potential for things to be better in almost any given situation. I will admit, this can be a pain in the ass quality when I’m poking holes that seemingly don’t need to be poked, but it is wildly helpful at times like this.
Things can and always will get better.
I’ve had some crazy intense moments over the past 4 months. I’ve experienced extreme sadness, confusion, anger, frustration, bewilderment, fear, grief, happiness, excitement and denial. But the most confusing emotion for me has been, joy.
Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is derived from superficial pleasures, while joy is a state of internal satisfaction. A song can make me happy. A call from a friend can make me happy. Seeing my child laugh can make me happy. But only profound, spiritual experiences can invoke joy.
The first time I experienced joy was Thanksgiving Day. It was one month after the “event” and I recognized angels everywhere. My overwhelming sense of joy stemmed from gratitude. I was raw and vulnerable and could easily tie my joy to a deep sense of appreciation for the support I was receiving from so many beautiful souls.
I’ve had glimmers of joy since then, but nothing as profound as an experience I had on Port Aranas beach last week.
It was 2 days after I received the news about my nephew. It was a cloudy day (my favorite kind of day) and I was on the beach, flying a butterfly kite that a special friend had gifted me. There was not a sound to be heard other than the waves of the ocean. Beautiful birds were flying right over head and my purple butterfly was high in the sky demonstrating a metaphor of freedom. Like a flash flood, all the events of the past 4 months washed over me. EVERY SINGLE MEMORY entered my sphere of consciousness in an instant. But there was something more powerful present. Joy!
Hearing the waves, watching the birds, seeing all of my hopes and dreams wrapped up in my butterfly kite, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew that everything could and would be more than ok. It would be better.
The duality of emotions was enough to take my breath away. I had no idea how to process the intensity of this experience.
Emotions are on a spectrum and the intensity of any emotion, negative or positive, can trigger the same response. Yes, joy can trigger the same physical response as trauma. Later that day, I went into complete fight or flight mode. All I knew to do was protect myself from the intense emotions.
It’s been 5 days since the occurrence of that emotional washing machine. The overpowering experience has taken almost a week to untangle.
What did I learn? It is inevitable that the unexpected will encroach our lives. The unexpected can be trauma or it can be profound joy. Regardless of what side of the spectrum it falls on, the unexpected can either be a curse or an opportunity. We get to decide.
I don’t just believe, I know, that things can and always will get better. I chose ALL of the unexpected to be opportunities.
I’m holding on to and appreciating my moments of joy. I’m holding on to The Goo Goo Dolls lyrics:
“So take these words and sing out loud, cause everyone is forgiven now. Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again. “
Every night, the world begins again.
Here’s to Better Days.
p.s.- I am getting a purple butterfly tattoo Sunday. 🙂