I don’t believe that anyone else’s pain is worse than an others. I don’t believe that it is helpful to say, well only this happened to me and so and so has it so much worse. All of us have had a variety of different experiences that build our schema and we deal with all that is thrown at us, the best we can or to the best of our abilities at that time. What happened to me was painful and traumatizing for me.
I have never been to war, so I don’t know what it is like to watch another die. I do not know the horror my husband knows. The helplessness. The rage. I don’t know the exact images that kept him awake for nearly a year after he came home, but watching him go through that process, I can imagine, just a bit, what it is like when I read stories of other veterans that are coming home and dealing with the harsh realities of war.
My husband came home, so I do not know what it is like to get that knock on the door and see those Marines in their Dress Blues with solemn looks on their faces, but I know what it is like to sit and wait and wonder if that knock is going to come, so I can imagine, just a bit, what it is like when I hear about a woman who has just lost the love of her life.
Those that have never been attacked while their daughter watches do not the exact feelings of guilt or shame or fear that I have, but reading my story, helps one know, just a bit, about how it does feel.
My friend was mugged many years ago when she lived in Arlington Virginia. It was late, a man approached her, asked her for her purse,, she refused, he grabbed it. She is a fighter, so she refused to let go. He drug her a few feet got the purse and took off. He never put his hands on her. He never threatened her with words. Her child was not present and she even down played it in her own mind as she told her friends about what happened. No big deal. He go my money, but as time passed and she learned that this same man later mugged another person at gun point, she got more scared. For a year and a half she would get absolutely terrified if she saw a man walking down the street. Her fear was real. For her, that was the scariest thing to have happened to her and it was real, regardless of anything else that happened to anyone else, she felt what she felt and she had to heal in her own time.
Each of us has the right to feel what we feel and we have the right to allow ourselves the freedom to be in pain; however, if we are serious about healing, there is much that can be learned from others tragedies and their triumph.
When bad things happen to us, personally, they leave a mark. I have some on the outside and some on the inside. E’s marks are all internal, but can sometimes be seen. Regardless of where the scars are, we get to decide if they will remain hard and callused or if they become beautiful symbols of love and courage.
I recently read a blog post by a woman who was in a plane crash and burned over 90% of her body. She has had a remarkable journey and she has been incredibly open about her struggles. Before the crash she was the epitome of what the world says is beautiful. She was young, thin, striking in her features. She was kind and gentle and she was happy, very, very happy. She admits to putting a lot of value and joy in her looks. Not vanity, but she liked her reflection in the mirror and although she had much bigger issues, this was one she often wrote about. Recently she posted about a family presentation her son did at his school and what happened on the playground. I have been thinking about how she is finding strength not so much in her scars, but in the love she has regardless of them.
The lesson isn’t in suck it up, someone has it worse. The lesson is what do you have that is worth the fight to heal those scars?