Today is my ex husband’s birthday. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am each year to be reminded that he exists and still draws breath. Each August the reminder rolls around, about five weeks after the likewise upsetting anniversary of our nuptials. Both days I’m something of a wreck.
I call these dates my traumaverseries, annual reminders of traumas past. They aren’t the only ones marring my calendar. Next month my son’s birthday, a happy occasion indeed, will also put me in a funk as I remember the trauma of a 98 hour labor. Hard things are hard to let go of.
As the years pass, each one gets a little easier to bear. I would not have even attempted writing on this day last year or the year before. I can recognize that this hurts less than it used to, while acknowledging that it still hurts now. That fear and regret and anger are reasonable responses to what he put me through.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely free of this, or past it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to shed this damage like a snake’s old skin. I hope so. I don’t want the worst men to still dictate who I am long after I have rejected them. I don’t want to always associate Wednesdays with the first time I was molested as a child. But I do.
No one resents the staying power of trauma more than victims. It can be hard to support a friend recalling past dangers you can’t see threatening them now. It can be difficult to understand how a ten or twenty year old event can still fuck someone up today. If you can’t be supportive, be silent. Or absent. Don’t tell them to “get over it”. There’s nothing they’d like more and nothing they feel so powerless to achieve.
It’s gonna be a rough day, maybe forever.