Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Big, Bad, Ugly and Kind of Precious

One year ago today, Gabriel and I solemnly flew with my father from Chicago to Baltimore where all of my sisters had gathered to meet us.

One year ago I found out that I was going to be a mother and Gabriel was going to be a father.

One year ago I was attacked at a bus stop, dragged to a near by gangway and raped.

I felt the anniversary of that day approaching for weeks. I didn’t know how I would feel, or what I would think.  Gabriel’s alarm went off at 4:15 this morning, much like mine had a year before. He had to work today at 5 a.m. My morning commute a year ago started at 5 a.m.

       I lay in bed this morning, listening to Theo’s soft sleep sighs as I feed him in the same grey morning light that washed over my morning 365 days ago. The details of that morning will forever be carved deeply into me. I’m still wondering how to move forward.

I’ve been told it takes about a year after being raped by a stranger to feel normal again, or at least to settle into a new normal. I assumed I would be “better” in a year—whatever that would look like. And I’m so tempted to tie a pretty bow on this year and explain how everything worked out for the best in the end, and I’m actually a much better person now and I couldn’t be happier…but, I can’t say that. This was a year marred by destruction. I lost myself. Sure, I can go out and run errands alone now without a full-fledged panic attack—but I still sleep with the light on.

The night before I was raped, Gabriel told me he wanted to marry me. We talked about our first dance song and he sang me to sleep that night. October 4, 2013, we had the most beautiful wedding ceremony, danced the whole night, and he became my safe place. We are in couples counseling now because when two selfish individuals get married—while one is suffering from PTSD—there is extreme codependent fall out. If I feel let down by Gabriel—which I inevitably will because he’s human—I find myself crying in bed for my mommy and disassociating for days.

Our son was born on April 2, 2014, by an emergency cesarean after several days of hard labor. I didn’t get the peaceful home birth I had hoped for, and I was sick for months afterward. I took my very last antibiotic pill just this morning. But April 2, 2014, is still the best day of my life. I wish I could extract it from this horrible year and place it somewhere else so it could shine on it’s own. But, I can’t. My son has seen me cry more times than I can count and he always stares at my crumpled face with his serious little brow furrowed. I desperately wish Gabriel and I could have found out I was pregnant together, and I wish Theodore had more stable, and less melancholy parents. But being his mother has been the greatest joy and deepest fulfillment I have been given. He is a gift from God.

Gabriel texted me this morning on his break saying, “It’s been a big, bad, ugly and kind of precious year. And we got through.” And we did. Even though the light is still on every night; even though my personal sense of security is unhealthily tied up in Gabriel’s actions; even though I still feel lost and undefined—we got through. It has been a destructive year, and we haven’t recovered. But it has been a precious year, and we have fought through the waves to build our small little family. It’s a mess and I still haven’t let go of who I thought I should be. Maybe if I can do that, this next year will be less full of struggle and disappointment, and I can move forward into a new normal and find myself again.