Thanksgiving, PTSD and kindness

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This weekend is Thanksgiving for us here in Canada.  It sort of sneaks up on us with still warm days leaning into fall.  We hang onto our (not politically correct anymore) Indian Summers with rays of late afternoon sun blinking through golden leaves as we pause and give thanks for the bounty of our lives.

This weekend  could be hard for me to give thanks. It’s much easier to be a victim.  A victim of the death of my daughter this weekend many years ago.  A victim of the death of my father thirty years later but still this weekend.  A victim of an event some years ago still this weekend that effectively stopped me in my tracks and enveloped me in the quagmire of PTSD.

And moving on from the deaths of those whom we love is made easier with the sharing that is possible with grief.  It eventually turns to remembrance and that is ok.  We can be thankful for remembrances but PTSD is another story.

The day I found myself sitting on the couch with tears streaming down my face without noticing I was crying was the day I decided to climb out of the pit of the despair that was inflicted on me.  The despair that wasn’t even on my radar and culminated in sanctioned workplace mobbing involving psychological beating; moving me to an office on a vacant floor.  Workplace mobbing involving sexual assault; the old boy’s club protected him.  Workplace mobbing involving harassment; every morning  the pictures in my office would be on the floor and my files strewn about the office in clumps of papers in corners.  And you ask, why didn’t I do something? Like complain to “the law?” Well, we were the law.

PTSD means not sleeping because when you close your eyes the event is alive again.  PTSD means getting physically sick when you see vehicles reminding you of the event. PTSD means being afraid.

The gaps and holes left by PTSD for me were slowly filled in with support and my determination to not let it define me.  The gaps and holes were filled in like grains of sand trickling in without me even noticing until after a while I was walking on level ground again; being grounded in my here and now.

That’s not to say there wasn’t anger.  There was tremendous anger, but by my choosing to just not see or acknowledge the people involved erased them like swishing an etch-a-sketch screen clean. It worked for me and the years went by and they have been good rewarding years.

Last weekend I was at an art fair with a friend and as we stood admiring some glass artworks, I heard ” Hi Sue” and I looked at the person; one of the main players who orchestrated the mobbing, who gave me nightmares, who at one time was a friend, and I said “Hey, you make these? They are beautiful!” And as I looked at her I could see for a moment a flicker of the fear she must have felt wondering what my reaction would be to standing face to face with her.

My reaction was appreciation of her art.  It wasn’t until my friend and I walked away that I realized that I had been kind.  I realized that I was so healed that I was able to be kind to someone who at one time had been clinging to the side of the freight-train as it ran right over me and hurt me so deeply.

I was kind without even thinking about it.  And for that, I am thankful.

 

 

 

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