Like most people, I come from a dysfunctional family. My older brother was addicted to drugs and was physically abusive toward me and my younger siblings growing up. It was like walking on eggshells whenever he came home. You didn’t know who was going to walk through the door. Was he going to be in a good mood today? Was he going to be belligerent? Was he going to blame me for his bad day? And boy was he mad when he didn’t have any drugs. It was a moment of uncertainty, where you suck in and hold your breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
We were raised by a single-mom who couldn’t control her son. She had her own physical disability and pain to deal with. You don’t know any different growing up in that environment or that it is not okay. My brother probably has borderline personality disorder. He was not in treatment and he was abusing drugs. We celebrated the day he moved out and felt anxiety whenever he would visit.
I’m amazed and grateful that my story didin’t follow a similiar destructive path. I surrounded myself with my friends and I journalled a lot. I worked part-time and enrolled in college as a commuting student at Johnson & Wales. I wanted more to life than this.
During the hard times, I focused on school and had a very supportive boyfriend. I moved out when I was 20. I graduated summa cum laude with my bachelor in science degree in court reporting. I found a rewarding career, and I’ve been fortunate to work in that field for the past 19 years. I found my amazing husband at age 29, and we’ve been in domestic bliss since.
But I’m still fragile.
If I run into a hostile environment, if there’s an aggressive driver, if I encounter a very drunk person, if I’m confronted by an angry crazy maker, I’m re-traumatized all over again. It will bother me for days. I cry. I feel wounded and defeated. I hit my bottom. Then I find my way once again. Talking to my husband and his support has been my bedrock. I journal. I go out in nature. I take deep breaths and try to meditate. I try to play and engage with my children and their sense of wonder and joy. I try to read something inspiring. I start to re-emerge again. I feel stronger. I feel that I’ve learned the lesson from the encounter. I vow to be better equipped next time.
But I’m still fragile.
Life will continue to be moments of bliss, love, and contentment. Life will be a series of ups and downs. There will be crazy makers in my path. They can’t be avoided. Just like housework, clutter, a roadblock, or a detour. It’s how we cope with the setback. It’s a reminder of my power, my grace, my stamina. It’s my ability to bounce back and to accept the inner wisdom of each difficult encounter, to not be sucked into other people’s bad day or drama.
But I’m still fragile. And that’s okay.