I recently read in an article that trauma, though usually associated with a sudden, unexpected horrible event or occurrence, can also be caused by something positive. The article explained that trauma is anything that divides your life into before, and after. I realized, as I approach the 12th anniversary of my move to Tennessee, that I’ve been dealing with the trauma of being uprooted from the only home I ever knew and relocating to a place where I had no family or friends.
My discovery was triggered by a call from someone I don’t know, but who is a colleague of my brother. This person and his wife are considering moving to Nashville and my brother suggested they reach out to me to learn the ropes. As I first spoke to the husband, I answered his questions and gave him the broad strokes about life here. He’s concerned for his wife and how she will fare. I next spoke with the wife, who had very different questions and concerns. We had a great conversation, but as I shared my experiences with her it became clear to me that I’ve suffered some trauma as a result of the move. In fact, after our conversation, I felt a wave of grief wash over me and it stayed for several days.
I’m sure on the spectrum of trauma, my experience is somewhat mild. But I do distinguish my life before the move and my life since. I often spend time wondering what my life would have been like if we’d never moved. I fantasize about what I’d be doing at this moment if I was still, “back home.” And I long for a time we can move back.
I don’t know much about recovery from trauma, but in this case, it’s come as a gradual process. The last 12 years have been challenging but, I know now, also incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned that I am a resilient person. I’ve become more confident in my ability to navigate new situations. And while I always knew I’m someone who makes friends easily, I’ve learned to consciously use that skill when necessary.
And there’s been another, unexpected lesson I’ve learned. The concept of, “home,” is one I always associated with a place. In my case, that home is Southern California. But home is a funny thing, wherever you are, wherever your loved ones are, that’s home. For some people, it’s obvious but for me, it was something I really had to live through to understand. And the places that I long for are always with me, in my heart and my memories. Just like people who have passed through my life, places I treasure don’t disappear. But unlike people who have passed, I can, and do, revisit places. The shores of the Pacific Ocean, the rocky peaks of the Sierras, the desert sands of Palm Springs, all are still there for me. Not to mention the breakfast table at my best friend’s house, the neighborhood parks where my children played, the street where we bought our first home and the duplex I lived in when I was a child.
Right now, I actually feel lucky to have two big parts to my life. The part before the move that gave me my values, my inner strength, my education and my family. And the part since, that put all of that to the test. I know now that, given the choice, I wouldn’t go back to the life I had; that life exists in my memory. The one I have now is so much richer, more meaningful and more satisfying. As time passes I feel blended rather than split in two. I get to choose what part of my past to keep and what to let go and I also get to decide what to embrace in my new life and what to let pass. I guess for now, the grief is passed, but I’m sure it will resurface and next time, it will be different.
Springtime in my Garden
Here are a few shots from my garden. This is definitely something new for me! A vegetable garden of my own is something I always wanted in So. Cal. but never had time or space. Check it out!