A Tale of Emotion
There are no words to describe how very hard the month of December hit our family. December of 2016 came in much like every other month this year. There wasn’t much happening out of the ordinary. Emotion and reactions were touchy due to different trauma memories over the years, but we were working through that in therapy. All was moving along in some kind of steady forward motion.
On the morning of December 9th that all changed. We woke up to 27 missed phone calls, a bunch of voicemail, and a few text messages. The body’s husband had passed away. Since we hadn’t divorced we were the ones responsible for the final arrangements. We had last seen him when Layna turned over her dog to him last February in a Walmart parking lot in Amarillo.
The emotions have been unbelievable. It’s been incredibly hard for all of us to even begin to process. Luckily we have a really great therapist who doesn’t expect this to be easy and who has explained and normalized a lot of our toughest emotion reactions. Some of us are angry with him, angry with his death, angry with ourselves or each other. Others are relieved, feeling free, and feeling relief for him… that his demons are finally silenced.
The body’s children were dealt a low blow. It was a shock to them but they were given the opportunity and freedom to express their emotion. They asked their questions, talked about their wants, needs, and hopes. They are still processing at their own speed. I don’t know if it helped or hurt that he rarely called or attempted to interact with them at all.
Two short weeks later we were dealt another huge blow. That one we aren’t ready to write details about yet, but we will eventually. That situation almost immediately took over all of our emotional processing abilities. The death of J took a back seat and our emotion surrounding that got pushed aside. It seemed that in a matter of hours, months worth of progress was undone and laying in a mess at our feet. Our faith was shattered, our emotions were pooling, and it felt like we were on the edge of losing our family. Our numbers continued to increase and our inner communication went to hell.
Today we went to therapy. Our relationship with our therapist is solid. We were able to call her when J died, and again when the other situation happened. We haven’t missed an appointment with her yet. The last couple of weeks she has been just letting us say what comes out. Today’s session started with me telling her everything that was wrong with the ball I was holding that I took from a basket on her desk. I refused to touch the ball we normally play with. That one is covered in positive and kind words and I didn’t want that. Instead I chose a ball with paint that didn’t line up right.
Eventually that conversation led to me talking about our inside chaos, lack of communication, nightmares, emotion, and overall numbness. Our refusal to discuss our emotional responses to the situations we have to deal with and how terrified we are that the “wrong” response can cause more issues. I sobbed as I explained how many of us feel we are at fault for so much of what’s happened this month. I told her I can’t write about it because its all tangled together and I can’t separate it enough to figure out what the hell I’m talking about. And because the demons we are fighting now are especially cruel and heartless and we have never beaten these demons.
She listened. She explained how normal these reactions are to trauma survivors. She explained survival mode and crisis mode and said we are reacting exactly as she expected. She talked about how I am attempting to hold us to an unobtainable emotion standard. And she told me to stop trying to set goals we can’t achieve. We are not failing, she said. And while we have some responsibility in each of the situations we are dealing with, not even one of those situations were anything we could actually control.
So, I’m following her advice. And Mom’s advice.
Brilliant Chaos has a Facebook page, and will now be blogging. We will be figuring out how to process through these emotions, even if it means rambling a few times a week. Writing will now be our job.