Sunday, November 24, 2013


LINUS: You know what Snoopy?  I don't understand people.  No matter how hard I try, I just don't understand them!
SNOOPY: I know how he feels, I gave up trying to understand people long ago. Now I just let them try to understand me! ~ PEANUTS


Maybe that is the way it should be.  Maybe people should make an effort to understand others and not be so self absorbed.  I remember, as a child, being told to 'put myself in someone else's shoes.' I understand those words all too well now, as my days are compacted with the pain of others.

It isn't easy being me. I am certain beyond a doubt that I am difficult to understand by some, maybe even many, and at the same time so easily understood by others.  Some walk away in indifference, caring not how I feel turning their back and leaving with a terse, "I hope you feel better," never caring enough to call later to see how I am.
A panic attack in a supermarket grabbed me out of no where.  Approaching the checkout stand, I knew I had to get out of there.  Fight or flight.  What prompted it I am not sure.  But leaving my cart and grabbing my keys, I raced to the car. Once there, I sat and focused on the sign on the window of a hair salon and breathed deeply and tried to 'center' myself, as I dug through my purse for medication.

What happened to caring, compassion, and just simply being present for another person who is struggling with a myriad of difficulties. Having someone there to hold you tightly and tell you that you are not about to fly off the earth would be helpful.  Or someone to tell me to slowly breathe in and out and that soon this will end. Just someone who cares and actually shows it. No, I do not understand people! It is now up to them to understand me.  Some one who sorrows, if I sorrow and echoes my joy when I am happy with a boundless trust, preferring my company to all others. Someone who would love to help me in anyway when I need them the most, rather than walking away, leaving me alone, as I have been my entire life.

 Digging through the baggage of a lifetime, almost quite literally, as I clean and purge a closet full of memories and shred most into a box to be picked up by the garbage men, I find a heart that should be full of good memories, almost suffocating in the abyss of papers of a person I no longer remember or recognize or no longer am.

We grow. We change. We weep, and we laugh.  Looking at family photographs of long ago I ponder how I got to where I am.  It isn't the life I had imagined, as a foolish little girl laying in my backyard on a warm summer night looking at the stars and wondering who I would marry and what my children would be like, nor is this the life I would have expected.

It is a cold and extraordinarily dreary day in South Texas.  This Sunday before Thanksgiving is full of memories, most I wish I could devour and discard. With help I am trying, learning, crying, and purging.  But what is next in this final phase of my life? What do I want? 

I want to laugh.  I want joy.  I want to be surrounded by  happy people who love me, for being me.  For being the kind of person I am.  A person who will stand by warriors with  PTSD/TBI and talk and walk them through a panic attack, a crisis, or a truck load of fear, no matter the time of day.  I would never turn my back on them and say "I hope you feel better."  It just doesn't work that way. 

I remember one day quite clearly when my precious little blind dog, Gracie, was not responding to my calling and calling her to come inside.  I must have had some where most important to be, or that was my perception.  I kept getting more angry and more angry that she wouldn't come in.  I gave up and started searching the yard.  Finally, I found her with her collar stuck in the wire handle of a heavy hanging basket that had rooted her to the ground. I felt so bad at yelling and getting mad when she couldn't do a thing to help herself but sit and wait to be found.

That is how I feel today.  I am sitting and waiting to be found. Cleaning and pitching and purging boxes and boxes of yesterdays.  There is a stillness and a sadness about this.  Shredding portions of my lifetime that will never matter to anyone else.  Events, photographs, days and dates important only at the time, are now going to the trash in shreds.

I am focusing on a new awakening and a life predicated on joy in the moment, and friends who bring me happiness on a silver platter or a Styrofoam box.  It matters not.  Smiles that uplift, smiles that wash away the panic and fear, and a hug that makes anxiety vanish into the darkness and surrounds me with a safety I have never felt. I will hold tightly onto my dogs, my anchors, as I cry into their soft fur and listen to their rhythmical breathing until I fall fast asleep. I will say thank you to them and to my dearest friends who have and will be with me for the rest of my days. For this I am thankful. 

It is difficult being grateful for a lifetime of accumulated sorrows, but I am grateful for who I am and that I now know, perhaps late in life but not too late, why I was put on this earth.  Easing the pain of others is what I do and do best.  Quid pro quo, if I am blessed. But if not so be it. Helping and holding up others as they face the hell of this thing called Post Traumatic Stress, I am good at.  I am good at being present and offering help and compassion and just holding a hand when it is needed the most.  I am good at being there for others when all others walk out. I bring hope.  But I am not so good at it when others walk out on me. As Snoopy said 'now it is their turn to understand me.'

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