strengthtostrength

Recovered

We are home from Boston and finally recovered from jet lag! 

I want to thank all of you; my family and friends, and followers for the prayers and love you sent my way during our trip. I felt it all in the form of the most beautiful peace during our trip and I believe they also helped Jeff push through the most difficult marathon in over 40 years.  The weather was terrible!

In the month leading up to the anniversary of the bombings I found myself overcome with symptoms of my ptsd. I shared this with my trauma therapist as she worked to help me prepare for the moment when I would confront the finish line with my kids in tow. My head was full of self-doubt; how could I keep myself together in those crowds, with all those triggers, and take care of my kids too? I realized I was trying to fit all of my plans for that day into a box.  A place I felt I could control. As I went through the motions of the EMDR session I was reminded of a time when I was a girl. My family and I were in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park and I was dreadfully nervous.  The roar of the cars of the track, the screams coming from the riders before me, and the uncertainty of what I would face on the ride were too much for me to take. However, those memories became muffled with the feeling I had once I stepped off that thrilling ride. I felt light and free, I was happy, and I felt confident because I had not let my nerves keep me from conquering my fear. This ah-ha moment became my motivation for the finish line. I decided I was going to embrace the experience for what it was and let is shape me instead of trying to fit it all into a space in my mind that I could control. 

I wanted to share that with you because I think much of life is a roller coaster ride. Full of ups and downs. Twists and turns. Moments you dread and those which take your breath away.

I sure hope that my life is full of more ups. More exciting moments that take my breath away.  Less of those that leave me lying in my bed trying to escape the world.  Either way I know my life will be lived fully and beautifully. I owe that to those who lost their lives on April 15, 2013 at the finish line, I owe it to Officer Sean Collier who was murdered by the bombers, and I owe it to all the survivors – those physically and invisibly injured. I owe it to my family and all of you.

I wrote a reflection for Maria Shriver’s website and it will be live soon. I will share it as soon as it’s published. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some pictures of my family from our time at the marathon.

 

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

As I sit down to write this I feel at a loss for words to describe all the emotions I have today about the wonderful weekend retreat that Jeff and I just had with other terrorist attack survivors from all over the world. The title of this entry really sums up my feelings perfectly.

The retreat was planned by Strength to Strength, an organization that supports terrorist attack survivors, bereaved family members, and spouses. Strength to Strength, the baby and passion of the most amazing woman and survivor in the world, Sarri Singer, is nothing but the ultimate gift anyone who’s been in my shoes could ever receive. The entire weekend made me feel welcomed, treasured, loved, and all of this was wrapped in the warmth of each person there. As it was said many times by other survivors throughout the weekend; Strength to Strength is a club you never wanted to be a part of but now that you are, you can’t imagine your life without it. That sentiment resonates so deeply with me today as I feel sad to not be sitting in that room on the 10th floor of the Belleclaire Hotel with my new family. 

I also feel joyful and happy to know that this is just the beginning of another beautiful journey before me that is punctuated by the relationships Jeff and I made. Each and every person there touched my heart, filled my soul, and tore off a piece of me and took it with them yesterday as they ventured home.  These people are treasures. They are my inspiration. I can’t wait to hug each of them again and I hope it’s soon.

Our experience was powerful, raw, emotional, moving, full of laughter and tears, and I loved every minute. It was mentally and physically exhausting in the very best way. We each had the opportunity to share our stories and it was the first time in a while that I was completely overcome by emotions while sharing my story. I was uncomfortable initially by how my tears took over but it was so therapeutic and freeing that I knew those tears had to come out. Everyone there could relate – I wasn’t alone.

I was nervous last week before we left and I had tried to write about the emotions I was having and just couldn’t. It was making me so anxious. I am glad I didn’t publish what I wrote and just waited to write till I was home because my nervous feelings were completely unnecessary. From the moment Jeff and I boarded the plane to New York City till the time we came home it was as if God was showering me with His peace. I almost felt like He was saying, “I’ve got your back and so do all these people who are waiting to meet you.” Thank you for all those prayers you sent my way because they were felt by me and my kids are alive and happy and so I think they helped my dad get through the weekend as well.

There are too many takeaways from the weekend to share in just one blog entry and so I plan on writing a lot about what I learned over the next month, but one thing I can share with you now is that I learned that I can still live a beautiful and fulfilling life despite having PTSD. On Saturday night we went to Lucky Strike for some down time and seeing each of my new friends enjoying drinks, the loud music, and the overstimulating environment encouraged me in ways only they can understand.  Each survivor there was living proof that I too will go on and be able to have a social life again. I needed to see that.

Jeff and I both learned that we need to take extra care of our marriage too as we navigate this world with my PTSD.  We both felt our relationship was strengthened by this time we spent with other people who share our struggles.

I left New York with renewed hope and peace in my heart.

The souvenirs I brought home with me are stories that would bring any person to their knees and I will carry them gently with the utmost respect and love for those who shared them – and for those who didn’t make it to tell the stories as well.

I am so thankful, grateful to feel grateful again, and blessed beyond measure.

Strength to Strength

This has been a tragic week in our world and it's only Tuesday. I will make this a quick post about a new resource I have added to the PTSD Resource page and add a longer one later this week that details my feelings about the attack in Vegas. 

Strength to Strength is an organization that is very dear to me because they work to bring together victims of terrorism and their families from all over the world. Founded by Sarri Singer, a terrorist attack survivor herself and one of the strongest people I have ever met, this foundation has given me and countless others a way to connect with other people who understand the affects of terrorism.  I realize that what happened in Las Vegas was a mass shooting but for those of us who've experienced a terrorist attack it can still be a trigger. I was in touch with Sarri yesterday and other survivor friends from Boston who were checking in on me and I can't tell you how loved I felt knowing that these people clear across the country from me care.  Sometimes just knowing that they are there if I need them brings me peace and now that I have found them, I'll never let them go! They are my family! 

Of course trauma is different for everyone and some people will process it right away and for others it may take years. In any case, it's important to remember that trauma may lead to physical and mental challenges that are difficult to communicate, even to our loved ones. The most important thing you can do is to remind them that they aren't alone. Strength to Strength took me years too many painful years to find and having Sarri and the survivors I have connected with through the organization in my life has made a world of difference.