The Only Rule of Survival

It is a more difficult day today. I find myself in a crazy mind game contemplating different rules of survival, trying to come up with a rule book to stay accountable to myself. Certainly one must survive if deemed a survivor. The other rules flit around and don’t settle in as they are all contingent on that one specific edict.

With a few blessed weeks of respite between, the dreams still come and with them a lingering shadow over the next day. Most times it bleeds into the days that immediately follow. In last night’s dream I awake to find him at the side of my bed, pistol pressed to my temple. The household and I awaken to my screaming. I wonder how unsettling it must be for the children to hear me, and imagine how scary it might be to get up and investigate. My son comments how difficult it is to go back to sleep. Given I am their protector if I am compromised, how could they possibly feel safe? If it lingers with me, does it linger with them as well? How do they process my trauma?

My daughter is finally beginning to process her own trauma, and I suspect an initial anger has yielded to denial. It has been revealed that she continues to weigh her options as to whether to continue with this life or end it, on a daily basis. My daughter who I love beyond words, this absolutely beautiful, artistic, funny, friendly, smart individual I am privileged to know and raise still experiences an inner turmoil that leads her to the conclusion that opting out might feel better. On some level, I understand.

As I look around her room I see she had added tons of pictures of her and her father in various stages of her childhood. I am both relieved that she can embrace their relationship, and saddened at the incongruity of those images with the imprint of the last minutes, and for me, the images left by my nightmares. Even with all of my life experience the images are irreconcilable. Is it any wonder she has now assumed a position of denial that he drank, was abusive, and the violence of his last act and death? She refuses any correlation of our life before and her pervasive state of discontentment.

Looking at the images, I am again thrown into the mixing bowl of how the man in these pictures could have done this to us. Tempted once again to take responsibility for something that was not, is not, mine. He did do this.

She will have to get there herself. I can’t make her, coax her, cajole, coach her. It is her journey as much as I want to lead the way she has to walk it. My son, too, is also now beginning to walk his own. I can only love them, provide what support and resources I can, watch and wait. When I am most tempted to jump in and ‘do’ something, I am aware I need to step back and give them the space to work through it in their own way, praying they follow the rule.

As for me, I am learning to stop fighting and yield to the process; let my life flow naturally around this obstacle, accept it will continue to exist, and appreciate the futility of using precious energy in resistance. It has become apparent to me after such tragedies we must practice joy, practice happiness, until it becomes a reflex rather than an awkward adaptation; retraining our minds to embrace the obscure and miniscule things which represent them until they blend together seamlessly. Joy and happiness or sorrow and discontentment, either are habits we form and fit to us once we decide what we shall be.

So strength may also be found in apparent weakness Tao

About Lisette d. Johnson

Murder-Suicide Survivor, Mom, Writer, Speaker, Serial Volunteer in the Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault Arena, Entrepreneur, &amp Friend. I survived, my kids survived, and I am here to tell the story.
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1 Response to The Only Rule of Survival

  1. Susan says:

    Profoundly beautiful!

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