Surviving the Beach

Every survivor I have talked to has a different definition of what life is after surviving the undertow, what their beach looks like. For some, they dry off quickly and go about skipping down the beach. For others, they sit feeling lost and look at the water as it begs them back. For me, I have the blue skies, the laughing children, the warmth of the sun, and also shells. Some that are beautiful and interesting to look at and many others that are jagged and cut my feet. A few shells hide in the sand where I can’t see them and a beautiful stroll turns into sitting and nursing a sore on my foot. Those broken shells are the ones nobody really talks about. After all, shouldn’t I just be grateful to be on this amazing beach? However, they are there as broken memories and dreams, reminding me of more painful parts of my journey. Surviving is a process. It took me 19+ years to live and get out of that existence, it’s only been five years of learning to live outside of it. It’s not a desire to dwell on the more painful aspects. Quite the contrary, I’d love to forget them. Just like many other survivors, part of my daily life is also coping with PTSD and it has a funny way of creating these broken shells for me to find. Recently, I stepped on a shell that dug in a bit and has kept a nagging pain in my foot. It’s one that brings about a certain amount of grief. A grief for what has been lost. Something that when I was so busy enjoying the “I have this great new life,” I forgot to process and throw back out to sea. This is the uglier side of surviving that so many don’t talk about because there’s a part of it that seems gratuitous. Even typing this out, I find myself deleting and typing over and over. In the struggle to survive, I lost an opportunity for friendships. Between frequent moves and trying to protect our fragile reality, setting up any lasting relationships or traditions went by the wayside. Even though “normal” is incredibly relative, I missed out on parenting in a normal way. One that every move wasn’t domineered over and critiqued. A life where I didn’t live in fear of the repercussions from any mistake made by myself or my kids. I grieve two decades of a life where I didn’t get to explore my own interests, who I was, and experiences I wanted. That’s a tough one. When others reminisce on what they were doing in their twenties and thirties, that shell wants to dig in. I don’t have a lot to contribute. I am in my mid forties and my life is starting now. My surviving looks like trying to figure it all out, later than most, and balance the loss with the hope of what can be. Recovery does not stop when you step out of the water, it’s a long process of discovery. One that I underestimated. If you are on this journey, hang in there, I’m right there with you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s