As I sit here in this beachfront condo and watch the sunrise on the ocean, I can’t help but know that my life is good. So many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. So many people cannot pay their rent. So many people are trapped in minimum wage jobs which require them to work 70 hours per week just to make ends meet. That is not my situation. I work hard for what I have, but I know plenty of people who work hard and still can’t make ends meet. I know that I could lose it all tomorrow, and it may or may not have anything to do with my efforts. I am lucky to be financially secure. I know that.
I also have two beautiful children. Other than soft teeth and one uncooperative eye, they are healthy. They are full of life. They love each day to the fullest and they love me. They are super fun (my son added this point). Most importantly, they are safe. So many people cannot have children. So many people have children with mental, emotional and physical challenges. So many people have lived longer than their children. So many people are unable to keep their children safe because of extreme poverty, homelessness or war. I have not experienced these challenges. I am so lucky to have them. I know that.
I have had the opportunity to get a graduate degree, so that I can pursue my passion as a career. I want to make a difference in the lives of other trauma survivors, and although the final steps of this journey are unclear, I can see that I am on my way to a fulfilling career. So many people are working jobs for the sake of a paycheck. So many people don’t have the time or money to make a career change. More importantly, so many people don’t think they have the time or money to make a career change. I am lucky to be making my way toward a dream career. I know that.
Somehow, I have landed on a path of trauma recovery. It is important to note that it found me. I did not find it. I didn’t even know anything was wrong. I didn’t remember. My recovery path was chosen for me. The only thing I did was open up to the possibility that I needed to do something different. So many people are living their lives in terror with flashbacks and paranoia every day. So many people are battling depression so severe they can’t get out of bed. So many people are struggling with chronic physical pain with no hope of a cure because the doctors can’t find the cause. I am lucky that recovery found me. I know that.
I know that I am lucky to have such an amazing life. Intellectually, I know it. Yet there is another part of me, a child part of me who does not yet know it. On that level, there is still confusion. How can I be grateful for this beautiful life I am living when I know what it is like to live in hell on Earth? And I know so many are living it. How can I trust that this is really my life? How can I be sure that this isn’t some trick by the universe, and soon, it will all disappear? If I feel joy and gratitude on a deep level, will my heart be broken? It seems so risky. It feels like the loss would be too much to endure.
So, I stay guarded. I don’t get too comfortable with my new life. I temper my joy because I never know when my old life will come knocking. I don’t fully melt in to the sunrise as I sit on the porch. I don’t entirely focus on the board game with the kids. I don’t completely appreciate my abilities as a social work graduate and a trauma survivor. I spend a little too much time thinking. I think about how to keep my kids young. I think about how to keep us financially secure. I think about my next career move. And I miss out on life a little bit each day.
But there’s good news. I am changing. Slowly, I am moving from a place of knowing gratitude to living gratitude. One day, I will wake up and feel true, deep joy about the life that I am living. One day, I will wake up and feel completely free from the doubts and anxieties that come from my past. I will be forever changed. And I won’t look back.