A few days ago, I found out just how close I came to losing my much-beloved job– all because of the trauma my family suffered in the wake of last Christmas’s travel. The only reason I did not, it turns out, was that I sought counseling when Encouraged and did my absolute best to remain professional despite the personal “perfect storm” I was enduring. When it was brought to my attention, I was a bit surprised, to say the least, but buckled on my big-girl pants and handled it like an adult. Internally, I was pretty shaken up. I wanted to deny the nightmarish reality of what was happening. The only things that kept me positive were my family’s unwavering support and the outpouring of warmth from my superiors, who explicitly stated that their intent was for me to succeed.
It’s been several days, and I’ve had time to step back and reflect on the situation. The epiphany train arrived this morning with a memory of the college’s Christmas party last December. I remember how happy I was and the incredible warmth of the atmosphere in the party. I remember how I could hardly wait to see one of my colleagues so I could give her a Christmas present. Fast-forward to April, and I remember how I avoided contact with that same colleague. At the time, I thought it was she who had changed somehow.
I now see it was I who had changed.
I had gone from exuding confidence to being constantly defensive. My smile had gone from being an external mirror of my internal state to being a shield against intrusion. I withdrew from contact when I most needed it. The awful part is that it had come on so gradually that I had no idea I was doing it or how drastically my behavior had been altered..
I had wondered why I had to go through my children’s breakdowns over the winter, and I now see them as blessings in disguise. I was able to put a name to what I was going through, albeit a terrible one. I was forced to find a better work-life balance and to forge a stronger relationship with my children, both of whom are on the edge of becoming teenagers.
As much as I want to say that I am over the PTSD from Christmas, I think I’m not completely healed. I see the situation more clearly for what it is and what must be done to cure it. I’m out of the woods, but not completely back to the me that I was. Perhaps I can’t ever be that person again, but I can certainly continue to work toward health.
I think that finding the map and the “you are here” spot is possibly the best I can do for now.