This has been a question I keep coming back to over the past several months as I realize I am a far different person then I was before the bombing and even more different since my hospitalization. I feel like there is an enormous canyon between the old Elena and the new one and it scares me, leaves me mourning my former self, and trying to accept what is new. Most importantly, it motivates me to keep pushing forward in this new me I find myself in.
I think it is true for anyone who experiences a life-changing event, illness, or trauma, like I have, that suddenly we look at ourselves and wonder what the purpose is of all of this. Things that I once saw value in no longer make me happy. Relationships that I once found joy in now have less meaning. I don’t engage with as many people socially because I can’t lie anymore about how I really feel and I’m not sure who wants to hear it. I also don’t drink so I often hear my inner voice telling me that no one wants to invite the sober girl with PTSD to the party because how much fun is that? I am also not willing to spin my wheels for things that exhaust me and leave me reeling for days. And all of these things makes me sad because before PTSD had a grip on me I loved these things, people, events, and places. The old Elena could do so much and make it look easy and effortless.
The new Elena does things differently. She likes to talk about her pain because it makes her feel better. She likes to pray and meditate. She likes quieter nights with one or two friends. She wants to spend more quality time with her husband and treasures. The new Elena can really hear other’s stories of pain and trauma and wants to. She wants to help. And just as much as she wants to listen; she wants to be heard. The new Elena has more compassion for others than she ever knew possible. And still the new Elena misses the old Elena and I think it will take time for me to grasp all these new things for me because the people who liked the old Elena might not like the new one and that is what’s hard about a journey like this. Not everyone comes along for the ride. Hopefully, those who really love me will because in many ways I think this new Elena is better.
I recently stumbled upon a resource for PTSD that has helped me finally identify some of these feelings and I have found it so helpful. Heal My PTSD, a site built by Michele Rosenthal, an award winning author, speaker, and trauma coach; is a must read for anyone struggling with PTSD. She understands the PTSD struggle because she suffered from PTSD herself. I know for me, sometimes listening to someone who has been in my shoes and has made it out on the other side, is the only thing that brings me peace from my daily struggles. And today has been one hell of a struggle! I listened to this podcast A Question of Identity: Who Are You After Trauma and it really highlighted some ways anyone with PTSD can begin to accept their new self. It helped me recognize how I am still the same today and what traits and values I still have and how each of these things can influence the new me that I am becoming.
After listening to Michele I remembered that blooming and changing is a good thing and I needed to be reminded of that today.