Today was the kind of day you question this whole having-5-kids thing. It’s my birthday and I’ve spent it tending 3 sick kids and taking another one to the psychiatrist. We’re talking wall to wall puke and diarrhea. Kids whining and crying. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. And always, always, the cry from all directions: Mom!
That said, 38 is a good birthday. The sun is shining. My husband surprised me with some beautiful flowers (even more a surprise because I ran into him at the store as he was buying them-he thought it ruined the whole thing but I found it more of a unique thrill). Granted, the 16 month old knocked the flowers and the 2 quarts of water they were in on the floor, but still. Clean up efforts of the spill were difficult secondary to every single rag in the house being in the wash, dirty or currently used as a puke reservoir. But still.
I spent my 28th birthday in the midst of my five month long trauma. So, Hell. I spent my 28th birthday in Hell. The great thing about trauma is that it makes puke and diarrhea look pretty damn good.
I took my sick babies for a walk in the double stroller today around our neighborhood on the river. I ate Thai food and vegan cheese cake with a very nice raspberry sauce, made by my hubs. I drank some wine and even convinced my teetolaller hubs to join me. My kids all made me cards (ten minutes before the party once forced to by the hubs) that were very sweet. My hubs spent the day, when not reducing raspberry sauce or walking our daughter to the dollar store for more pink balloons, working on the medical practice we are opening. The best present ever.
And I got one other very important gift: time to write this. Luxury living at its finest. I do not know how I could have made it to 38 without writing. It was my escape as an outcast Aspergery tween, was my voice against oppression in high school and beyond, won me scholarships and fellowships that made me feel like maybe I really did belong in academia, inspired lyrics that gave me the drive and the confidence to sing in a punk band in front of hundreds of people despite being completely terrified, got me published in a legit medical journal at a time when I struggled with feeling like I was a *real* doctor. Most importantly, writing got me through the weeks and months directly after Jeremy was arrested. Through the second trauma of my medical school shaming me and trying to ruin my career. And it preserved my memories. A true privilege few trauma survivors have.
This blog helped me recover from my PTSD. It helps me still. The core of PTSD is shame. The only way to battle shame is to speak your truth. More specifically, to have someone hear your truth. And not walk away. It is a small little blog with a small group of followers, and I am grateful for each and every one of you. You are a precious gift to me on this my 38th birthday.
It surprises me how I begin to write these entries with a problem and think to myself “Why are you dwelling on this problem with no solution? Cut the pity party.” And I start to write and by the time I am done, I have found an unexpected solution or a new way of looking at it, or have found a path to accepting it as it is. It makes me wonder if anyone can recover from PTSD without creating something. Trauma is the opposite of creation. It is destruction. It is the Fall in the Garden, the closing of the gate. What is it that Eve suffered for the Fall? Pain in childbirth. Pain in creation. But she did not lose the ability to create new life.
There is a certain pain to my writing now that wasn’t there when I was younger. Before my trauma. Before I had my first little boy and was told he was sick at 6 days old (and on the 7th day God rested. I cried the deepest cry I ever have while God rested. He and I are still hashing that one out). Before. But there is still this gift of the ability to create, as God does. And there is a healing in it. And a connection. Maybe not to God so much, but to other people, other survivors–not just of trauma, but all the sad things we live– to time, tradition, cyclical history. And a connection of ideas, of the points of my life, of the people who’ve passed in and out of it. Maybe, just maybe, if I keep writing, it will all make sense. The connections will be drawn, the pattern will show itself. There will be an answer.
I made a big batch of smoky vegan collard greens today for lunch. I made a lovely kale strawberry smoothie for breakfast. I took my medication. I exercised. The day was still utter chaos. I was still pretty damn grumpy for most of it. But I still ate my greens. I did not resolve my ongoing spiritual struggle over the nature of God (he can’t be all loving and all powerful, so he mustn’t be all powerful so… where the hell does that leave us?) But I still ate my greens. I was a highly imperfect mother and wife. But I still ate my greens. I was lonely for a lot of reasons. But I still ate my greens.
And so, the house came to smell of sickness and collard greens on this my 38th birthday. But it was 74 and breezy and so we opened the windows and doors and aired the place out. Took the baby out in the yard barefoot. Walked down to the public dock and watched the water. Hung pink streamers and balloons and had a little party. Watched a cheezy terrorist movie starring Morgan Freeman with my husband with the volume down and made up our own dialogue (lip reading did reveal Mr. Freeman called one of the characters “son” as I predicted he would). Spilled some wine on the couch and laughed about it.
We aired the place out because, as I realized shortly before my 29th birthday, I am not in prison. I am alive and I am free. This is not a cell without windows. The sun is not kept from us. And I am not alone. I am eating my greens and cleaning up the messes as they come. The stuff of life. 38 years alive. Booyah.