I’ve had my fair share of traumatic experiences. In and out of emotional rehabilitation programs...psych wards if you will, close family members dying from cancer or sudden heart aneurisms, my own brother’s sudden death. As open and honest as I like to be, to create a space where the most people can relate, I feel sharing my extended list of trauma would be more depressing to read than inspirational. What concerns me now and what I’d like to work through publicly, hopeful to offer some, if any aid, is my attachment to experiences that affect me.
My most recent birthday I was able to put together a trip with one of my closest friends and my parents. We all met up at my parents’ place in Las Vegas and flew together, with my dog, to Big Sur for the week. The night before we left for Big Sur was one of the scariest nights of my entire life.
We were sitting at a high top table in the bar of Zuma, a contemporary Japanese restaurant located at the Cosmopolitan. I was sitting next to my friend across from my parents. Just as we were finishing our meal my dad put his head between his hands. He has suffered from migraines his whole life and recently found a solution to live migraine free. I was confused because I knew he hadn’t gotten a migraine in months so I asked him if he was getting one. No response. He lifted his head up and had the most empty and blank stare I’ve ever witnessed from a human being. Immediately concerned I shouted across the table for a response. It was then his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he fell to the floor unconscious.
My track record with these things isn’t very good. It feels almost like I’m waiting for the next bad thing to happen to me. As if it was more surprising for my dad to be all right than it would for his life to have just ended. This would happen the night before my 26th birthday. I remember begging Jeffrey, my brother who had only been gone less than 2 years, to please not take him from us yet. In that moment, I felt as though I couldn’t move on if anything happened to my father. I wouldn’t be okay.
After being taken by ambulance to the hospital and having several tests and monitoring done, it was determined he had fainted from dehydration and a sudden drop in blood pressure. Similar to the vertigo and fainting spells I suffer from myself, it was unpleasant and scary, but not life altering. He had to check his blood pressure each day, but he was totally fine. Although this situation was one I could put in the past, no one died, no life changes needed to be made, it stuck with me worse than I’d expect. The factor that makes it different, my imagination.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: My emotions are controlled by my mind. While I may not be able to control which thoughts pop into my head, I have the power to rewrite and overpower them. I always have the capability to create positive thoughts, thoughts that serve me well. Thoughts that motivate me, bring a smile to my face, spark the lightbulb providing me hope and determination. It still gives me the jitters to relive these experiences. The emotions I dealt with at the time were so strong they linger. But today I have lived through those experiences and onto better ones. I am not consumed by what’s happened to me in my past, but enlightened. I’ve learned coping skills, I’ve built stronger defense mechanisms. While I may be terrified of life after my father’s gone, I know I’m a survivor. The silver lining of trauma is I‘m still here. Trauma doesn’t define me, it molds me. Whatever comes next, I’ll handle it. When memories or old emotions resurface, I can choose to respect their presence but remain unattached. Remain free from my past and open to my future. These experiences that have impacted me so strongly will always be a part of who I am, but who I am is a woman who looks forward. I choose happiness when it’s an option and I refuse to stay stuck in old emotions.
Lindsay Greenberg, providing perspective on how to live a magical life.