March 9th, Living with trauma 28 years later

It has been 28 years and this year I am the most content I’ve ever been. But, with that said…

“Brace for impact, something’s going to happen”. I find thats the way life goes for me, when things are going well, something always happens to turn it upside down. Will I ever live in a complete state of balance and peace? Sounds a bit dramatic right? Thats the way it goes with PTSD.

Each year on March 9th, I sit back and think about the events of that day. How quickly our lives turned upside down. The world spun completely out of control. For many years prior to the first, we have celebrated, cried, vacationed on and ignored this date. Some years I just don’t know how to react. This year I’m letting it pass by without much consideration.

Yes, its been many many years but trauma doesn’t leave you. That horrible day that shaped the course of our lives forever. I can sit here and recount perfectly that day and get through it with no problems. But when I hear something or smell something that triggers a memory from that day or the many years of trauma that followed my body responds to that. I don’t have control over it.

The first 18 years was all about Braden’s recovery. We focused everything on him. We put all our time and efforts into our children, and thankfully all the trauma could stay in a little box, put in a closet inside my brain. It sat there for so many years. Although I have no regrets about that it came with a cost.

I had the ability and strength to focus on my family for many years. Paul and I raised two beautiful kids. We provided a healthy, nurturing environment for them to grow and develop. We didn’t allow the trauma to dictate how we would move forward. I wasn’t expecting it to come back so harshly though, not realizing the trauma was waiting to surface.

About eight years ago, I had a moment in life that ended up opening that little box packed away inside my mind. Everything came flooding out, like a tidal wave and I had no where to run. I had a moment of immobilization, couldn’t move, breathe or focus. It was one of the scariest moments in my life. Sadly my kids were present and witnessed it. I knew what I had too do though, I had to find the strength and pull myself up. My children were watching. Life can be difficult and I knew I wanted them to always find a solution to every obstacle. Thats what I did, back into the depths of therapy.

Now I need to be careful with what I share, as it is Braden’s story too. I can say the purpose of the break down was the realization that I no longer had any control over Braden’s choices. He began making decisions that I did not agree with, not having the ability to guide him in a different direction scared me. I became once again obsessed with him and his health. I hated that he was moving out of the house, putting someone else’s needs ahead of his own. He had stopped all therapies, medical assistance and care. He had complete control over his life. His choices were not what I felt we raised him to do. But it was what he wanted.

Once I started back with my psychologist I told him how i felt “we didn’t put all this effort into him, for him to stop it all and risk his own life”. What I mean is how much dedication Paul and I had with Braden’s recovery. We spent HOURS a day driving to and sitting through occupational, physical,nutritional, speech therapies, procedures, neurology, orthopaedic specialists and Dr. Appointments. Time we devoted to him, and of course we wouldn’t have changed a thing. His recovery was remarkable. It was something we had hoped would continue to improve with age and dedication coming from him. Braden had other plans, the things that use to be so important to Paul and I were no longer what was important to Braden. That afternoon sitting in my psychologist’s office trying to explain this to him, he looked at me and said ever so gently “he’s a person, not a project”. That hit hard, I had to reevaluate all the things I believed so deeply in.

Letting go of that part of our life was incredibly difficult. I didn’t see things going that way. I had a vision, but that’s not what Braden wanted. My heart is breaking.

Unfortunately, through this my relationship with Braden had been hurt. We will never be the same. Although I know he loves me more than anything, my pain and disagreement of his choices triggers him. He knows me as well as I know him. He can read me like a book, he knows my thoughts and my feelings. Him and I have a very strong connection, that can be harmful if not dealt with properly. It can be very toxic when family doesn’t respect one another’s boundaries. When you love someone you have to love them enough to give them their space, value their choices and support them regardless of your feelings about it. If there has been anything we have done right as parents it’s getting the proper guidance to help us navigate our way through these years. Both Paul and I, as well as Braden. Each of us talk to professionals, they help us understand one another and they give us permission to feel the way we do while respecting our individual thoughts and feelings.

We are a very close family. The reason we are still close is because we honour one another. We can sit back and allow eachother to be an individual with no expectations. It has not been easy, like I said learning to accept some of Braden’s choices has overwhelmed us.

You cannot go though a trauma in life, one as significant as mine and come out unscathed. I live with extreme guilt. I will for my whole life. Sometimes I cope well, and sometimes I don’t. My psychologist very recently said to me this “You were a victim too” and that my friends has made a huge difference in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the events of March 9th, as myself being a victim too. But you know what, I was a 23 year old young mother who looking back was just a child myself.

There’s been one significant change in our life, it has mostly come with age and healing. That is protecting our mental health. Just these past 5 years or so, we have taken very strong steps with removing any negativity or threat to our peace and our family’s happiness. That has come with a cost, but thats ok cause we are in a really good place. We have been attacked, threatened and left out, all because we put ourselves and our needs first. For the first time in our life together of 34 years, we are doing what’s best for us. And if people don’t like that, then thats on them. For those of you who love us enough to give us our space and understanding we see you, we love you.

We have never felt this content. Being able to say no without guilt, putting our family first and taking care of our own needs has been a huge reward. We have taught our children that someone else’s happiness should not come at the cost of yours. Saying no without guilt is beautiful and at times very necessary.

I have put myself back together differently. If you haven’t been a part of my life this past 5 or so years, then I’m sorry but you don’t know me. I won’t apologize for that. I am still learning, growing, grieving and challenging myself. I still struggle daily, but I have gotten the tools I need to stay grounded, healthy and resourceful for my own children. As much as my relationship with Braden has changed, I am very proud of his ability to put up his boundaries and protect his own mental health. Even, if that means with me. That my friends is a healthy family~

As I sit here getting through my 28th year on March 9th, I am proud of who we are. I love my husband, he protects his family with a strong silent presence and always manages to keep me equalized. My daughter is the glue, she’s the one who holds us accountable to who we are. She’s so strong. I am beyond proud of her, she is my whole heart. Her knowledge of understanding life is beyond her young 26 years. She inspires me daily to be a better version of myself. I love you Kailey~

My darling son, the only other one on this planet who felt the shift in the earth that horrible afternoon on March 9th 1995. You are so powerful. I admire your ability to persevere, your determination to overcome so many battles. I am so very proud of the way you have grown to take control of your mental health. You truly are remarkable, thank you for always having my back even when you’re mad at me. I’ll love you forever~

2 thoughts on “March 9th, Living with trauma 28 years later

  1. My dear friend, I felt you, I wanna give you a hug. I am very proud of you, Paul, Kailey and Braden especially. You are not allowing adversity to beat you down, but turning it into a blessing, not only to yourself but also to others.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s