I felt it settling in last week.
The irritability over the small stuff. Being impatient or annoyed by anyone standing within 100 ft of me. The heaviness sitting on my chest like a weighted bag of sand. In a constant state of panic, as if I was walking a tight rope about to fall off any second. Where was this coming from?
My husband and I are going out of town soon. It's a trip I have been looking forward to for a year. A trip for the two of us. A trip without our three children on earth.
Once upon a time traveling alone, without kids, actually made me giddy. A break from life and much needed us time! Relaxation and extra sleep! Our pace, our agenda.
But after you experience losing a child everything has a way of changing.
At some point during the weekend it hit me. I understood why I was feeling the way I had been. The monster I've become closely acquainted with over the past two years had begun crawling into the deepest spaces of my mind and filling them with fear. He wrapped his fingers around my heart, squeezing tightly until I felt it was going to explode.
You may know this monster. His full name - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he goes by PTSD for short. He's real and he sucks. Like really, really SUCKS. His ultimate goal in life - to steal the joy from mine.
Because of him a trip away together now means days full of angst until we return. It's imagining the worst case scenario because we know all too well worst case scenarios are real. Nightmares can come true. It's wondering how you are going to keep everyone safe while you are thousands of miles away when you couldn't keep one safe while you were home.
What if somebody gets sick? What if there is a car accident? What if an icicle falls off the house and hits one of them? The "what if's" range anywhere from outrageous to very real and guaranteed to be never ending.
How do you learn to enjoy time away again? How do you go back to being carefree and living in the moment? How do you tell PTSD to back the hell off?
We are going to breathe deeper when the panic sets in. We are going to laugh through the tears if they fall. We are going to create new memories and enjoy new experiences (while giving PTSD the bird). We are going to call and check on the kids (a lot) while also being present with one another. Learning to live again in this new life is a balancing act.
I am going to put my trust in God and know He will keep them safe. I'm going to remember they have a pretty special brother watching over them. A little boy that would want his daddy and mommy to have fun and know everything is going to be OK while they are gone.