These lyrics from Whitesnake’s song “Here I Go Again” have been stuck in my head for quite some time. It’s true…I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been. The last several weeks have made me more aware of that fact.
Trauma is a sneaky thing. We are very aware of it while it’s happening and for some time when it’s over, but I think it throws us through a loop when it resurfaces after being stored in our bodies and our subconscious minds after many years. This was very evident to me over the summer and it’s taken me some time to process through it.
First my son experienced it. One day at work he received a phone call from his friend letting him know that her mother suddenly passed away. She wasn’t sick. It was one of those instances of having something in your body that isn’t detected until it’s too late. Even though my son had just turned 3 when my mom passed away, his body and subconscious mind remembered it and this event brought it all back to him in a big way. There were similarities. My mom wasn’t sick either. She was sitting on the floor playing with my kids and had a brain aneurysm. She was only 50. He of course was really sad for his friend…but he also had to process through his feelings of loss all over again. It also scared him because I had just turned 50 and he couldn’t help but wonder if it would happen to me too.
I also had an experience this summer. It’s really strange what can trigger a memory of trauma. When my son got out of the hospital after being suicidal, there were a couple of things I had to do. The first was to change the ring tone on my phone. Because we got a lot of phone calls regarding my son before we made the decision to hospitalize him, the calls after he got home were just about throwing me into a panic attack. Changing my ring tone sort of retrained my brain that phone calls weren’t always going to be bad. The other thing I had to do was stop listening to music that I listened to during the 5 years that he really struggled. It wasn’t all music, but you know how you can find a song that really speaks to you or brings you comfort during a difficult time? Those were the songs I couldn’t listen to anymore because they brought me right back to the stress and heartache that I experienced during that time.
So what does all of that have to do with the summer? Well I told you trauma is sneaky. You just never know what’s going to trigger it. And for me it was a phone call this summer. It was an innocent enough phone call. It wasn’t even about my son. But there was something about it that was familiar to me and it took me back to my son’s hospitalization…like right.back.there. And my brain didn’t stop there. It replayed every painful conversation, every tear, every sleepless night listening to make sure my son was safe in his room at night, every morning I waited for a text message reply from him while he was at college to make sure he hadn’t taken his life, my anger at God…it just went on and on. It was pretty brutal and it took some time to get over it.
I know so many families that have similar stories. This is why I am so passionate about helping other parents and those who don’t have parental support. This stuff is really hard. It’s also why I’m passionate about things like marching in the Baltimore Pride Parade and participating in National Coming Out Day.
Last week our community college had some events for the students in what ended up being Coming Out Week not just day. I’m really impressed with everything they do for the LGBTQ+ community there and I’ve been honored to be a part of many of them. Tuesday they had two viewings of the National Geographic documentary Gender Revolution. It was great to see the amount of people who came out for the documentary…both students and faculty. It was really well received. I was asked to come back the following day for the event “Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!” It was on National Coming Out Day. It was a fun day of crafts, documentary screenings, and resource information.
I saw some “talk” on the internet about not needing a National Coming Out Day. The point being made was if gay people want to be treated like everyone else then why do they need a day like this. The same kind of sentiment went around the internet during Pride month. If the LGBTQ+ community had the same rights as everyone else and were treated like everyone else, then we wouldn’t need things like Pride month and National Coming Out Day. When they can walk down the street hand in hand with the person they love, and not be harassed or even have cars accelerate towards them showing aggression…then we won’t need events like these.
National Coming Out Day shows solidarity in the community. Coming out is stressful and knowing that you aren’t alone is empowering. So I support this day and all the other days that show this community that they aren’t alone. My Facebook will be filled with rainbows and memes showing that support. And I will proudly wear my rainbow “gear” to show that I’m an ally and someone safe to come out to. I dream of a day that these things won’t be necessary, but we have a long way to go.
I’ve mentioned before that I am no longer working for my church. I left my position in June. So…I really don’t know where I’m going…but I sure know where I’ve been. One thing I will continue to do is fight for this community with everything that I have until the day it is no longer needed. No more sadness, no more fear, no more trauma.
I went to pick up some pumpkins today and the Doobie Brother’s song “Long Train Runnin'” came on the radio. I couldn’t help but notice the line that goes like this:
Without love, where would you be right now
If you have been lucky enough to be loved for who you are, where would you be without that love. I’m guessing your life might look a little different.
Get out there and love…because love matters…