Six Years & A New Story
It's been six years today since my dad was shot and killed. Six years ago my life changed forever and I started a journey of trying to understand, make meaning, accept that there is no real answers and try to heal. I never had the opportunity to completely heal my relationship with my dad while he was here on the physical earth. We were slowly getting there...I was learning what my boundaries needed to be with him and how to communicate those respectfully. We were slowly becoming friends, mutual adults who respected and loved each other. Then he was blasted away from me and life changed forever. But, I have been blessed to realize that the healing does not have to end, just because he is no longer physically present. I have the opportunity to continue the healing process. Would I have done this work if he was still here? I don't know. Would I still work on forgiveness, boundaries, the processing of trauma? I hope so, but who knows? I currently feel it's imperative, I don't have a choice in doing or sharing the work.
Still, some days I feel like I am going to sink into a big, endless blackness of sadness. I feel it start in my heart and sink all the way down into my stomach, running down my legs and threatening to pull my down into the earth. I feel shaky in my stomach when I see someone shot in a movie or hear of another mass shooting. Sometimes when I hear of more gun violence, I want to cover my ears and scream like a child because I start picturing it all over again. I picture my dad's body pumped full of bullets and then I see pictures of innocent faces, sometimes even children and I fear their loved ones may be picturing the same thing. I was listening to something recently about what it was actually like to be shot and what a bullet does to the body when it enters. I felt dizzy and sick. It's different to actually hear these things when you know someone who has been shot. It's hard not to take gun control debates personally and it's feels impossible to escape it in this current political climate.
As much as I want to hide from it all, I still feel responsible to work on it. It's a continual journey that evolves each year. I used to think that one day I would finally "get over it." After it happened, I so desperately wanted to go back to "normal." I never would again. It's impossible to go back to a life where this didn't happen and trying to do that would cause more suffering. There is a new normal now. There is only processing of trauma and writing a new story about it. The story that serves me best is: "I did nothing to deserve this. My family did nothing to deserve this. However, this is our assignment and we will make good come out of it."
I am grateful that I have been able to get to know my dad better since he has been gone. I have been able to have a more empathetic and objective understanding of who he was and what made him that way, without the emotional interference our relationship may have brought to those understandings. I went to a yoga event back sometime last year, the teacher mentioned how perhaps needed to release some traumas from our family of origin, but to also remember that our parents could only parent us the way they were parented. I remembering hearing a big resounding NOPE from my soul, my parents did not parent me the way they were parented. Both of my parents made conscious decisions to parent me better than they were parented. My dad had no dad, he didn't have a model for what to do, only what not to do and he always tried very hard to be a dad to me, even when he didn't know how.
For as much as I don't know, here is what I do know. Hurt people hurt people, and I will try to consciously undue that cycle. Everyone is trying to do the best that they can on most days and I will choose to see the good in their efforts. On the days when someone did not choose to do their best, then I will do better, even if their choice caused me pain. I will chose to process that pain into something positive.
I will keep trying because I feel I have to, there is far too much pain and suffering in this world and I will do my best to not add to it. I will fail. But, I will try again.
And, I know my dad would be very proud of that,