Not everyone can say they have the best family in the world. Some people are not fortunate enough to have that circle of strength that I call family. There are of course, those people who can brag about how great and supportive their families are, and I am lucky enough to say I am one of those few that can say I truly have the best family around.
Those who know me personally know my story, the story that also connects me with hundreds of other people. This is not one of those stories that bring happiness, joy and tears of jubilation to your soul, but it is one of the stories that brings sadness, nightmares, and tears of fear. This story is 25 years old. It may have begun as a horror story, that May 1st afternoon, but I am plan to change the ending, and make it an inspirational story, a story that changes lives for the better and breaks the chains of bondage.
Every 4th of July my family gets together and we have a cook out and sometimes we even throw in a friendly game of baseball. This 4th of July was different from most. It rained off and on all day, and had the feeling of gloom. Sadness and despair hung thick in the air. You see, my nephew had decided to move back to California with his dad, and was just leaving in a couple of days. He is almost 18 and decided that he needed a change in his life. We love that guy and we were all sad and grieving, I guess you could say. The 4th of July is supposed to be a time of celebration and fun and not a one of us felt like celebrating. After eating our BBQ hot dogs, the best homemade macaroni salad and other fixings, we sat around waiting for the night sky to turn dark, so we could robotically shoot off fireworks just like we do every year.
The closer the time came the more tense the emotions rose, and eventually it was time to shoot off those fireworks that stared at us with such great intensity on the dining room table. My sister had purchased some awesome fireworks and was excited to try out a new one that they have never done before. The older kids were beginning to feel the excitement rise and ran outside to set up. I stood just off the porch watching and gazing off into the distance and not really paying attention to anything particular. I actually was thinking that I needed to go and get our lawn chairs out of the car because it looked like the rain had taken a little break for the day and might actually be cooperative for us.
As I was gazing, the older kids were lighting a firework and was I completely unaware. I should have been paying more attention to my surroundings, but unfortunately I was lost somewhere in the unknown. A loud boom awoke me from my stupor and I flashed back to the classroom where I had been standing 25 years ago. I panicked and I ran in the house. I really don’t remember running up those stairs and opening the door to the house, but some how I made it the living room and sat down to gather my thoughts.
As I sat there, I tried to breathe, because the air in my lungs was doing it’s best to escape me. The tears just rolled down my face and the frustration and anger entered. After 25 years that loud boom still brings me back to that day where the mad man brandished his sawed off shot-gun and where the booms were so loud that it echoed through the building. The time so long ago when I was introduced to a man named Eric Houston, the man who took control of everyone’s lives that day. That day he took the lives away from four people and captured the lives of hundreds that fateful day. I was frustrated with myself because it caused that fear to attack me once again.
Here I am sitting in the chair in the living room all alone and my nephew enters the room and sees me. I hear the concern in his voice. All I can say is I am having a panic attack and kept my head down and eyes closed. He brings me a glass of water and gives me a hug. I hold on for dear life for just a while until I am able to open my eyes. When I opened my eyes my son enters the room and so does the whole family. They understood and they were empathetic. They were the best, and I could not have asked for anything different. They all felt horrible, but of course it was not their fault. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a real thing that people suffer from. Some people are able to deal with traumatic events and are able to handle it better than some.
PTSD is a condition that can last months or years. It can go away and you think you are just fine but then a sound, smell or an intense emotion can trigger all those traumatic feelings all over again. You can have nightmares, anger, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, or avoidance of anything that is a reminder of the event.
A month ago I decided to go to therapy again. I think it is time. I am not only going for my PTSD, but just anger issues in general. I am also having trouble finding my place in this world. For 19 years I have been a mother who has devoted her whole life to awesome children. Two of those kids are now adults and the transition has not been easy from being a mother who is needed and being a mother that needs to give them space and find their own place in this world. You see, I am sort of a control freak. Well if you knew me, it would not be much of a surprise. I have trouble giving up control of anything. I told my therapist this and she had given me a little insight about my controlling nature. She said this sometimes happens when someone has lived through a traumatic event. When an individual had their control taken away by another individual, then they want to over compensate. I guess that is why I am a bit controlling. I don’t want to have the feeling that someone has control over me ever again.
Some day all this will be behind me. I will never forget what happened, but I can look back and say I lived through it and I am alright. I am thankful that I have such an amazing supportive family. I am not sure I could do it if I didn’t. I want to say “thank you” to all of my family for putting up with my crazy and still love me in spite of it. We are definitely a Family – Circle of Strength – Founded on Faith – Joined in Love – Kept by God. We are truly blessed.
Here are a few pictures of my amazing family. I am blessed by each and every one of them.