Saturday, March 24, 2012

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

"I would start the book by mentioning that there was a lot of blood, and some broken bones... for much of my life..."  
                                                                                 -random conversation at chain grocery store

I like to observe people, and I like to take in all that is happening around me.  I am a friendly person by nature, and also a curious human.  I do like to converse with people, and I find myself in the most random conversations.  I try to embrace the random, because it usually leads me right where I need to be.

Last night I was speaking to someone about tragedy.  We talked about how some people deal with trauma in healthy productive ways, and others self-destruct.  I wondered if it was family and community support, or genetics, or even personality that made a difference in why some people carried on in spite of unspeakable things, and others curl up at the first sign of trouble.

Losing a child, experiencing a natural disaster, enduring a physical attack, losing a job/family/spouse- all of these things can be devastating.  Some people come out of it in one piece, and even say they are stronger because of the trauma.  There are others that wander around as ghosts of their former selves, and it is as if they started a completely separate life once the tragic event occurred.

Today, as I was going about my daily errands, I participated in the random chitchatting that seems typical now that I want to hear the stories of those around me.  I have found myself asking certain questions, pausing at the right moments, and making mental notes of what I need to write down later.  The reality is that I wish I could make a "time-out" signal, and quickly grab a pen and paper to make notes for the remainder of the conversation.  I don't think this town is ready for this new dimension of strange... So, I try my best to engage in conversation and remember the details for later.

I was asked how my job was treating me, and this same person knew I had been working on a few writing projects.  I casually mentioned the book, and got the classic response: "I have been told I should write a book."  Normally I would grin and wonder when the conversation would be over.  I would laugh to myself and think about telling her how hard it is to be a writer.  But I know this lady's story, and she does have book-worthy material...

She brought up some pretty significant sexual harassment and assault, violence in high school, and a kidnapping and beating.  At this point, it might even skip past book-worthy and move straight to Lifetime movie.  This story started our lengthy discussion about how some people can come out the other side of horrific events, and almost seem better for it.

Are some people just more resilient?  Are there some souls that are just more determined to exist, and to make their lives matter?  I wonder if purpose makes a difference in all of this--when there is a child, or family, or something to live for, then there is a reason to go on.  The easier the mind can process what happened, and make sense of moving forward, then healing can occur.  I am not saying it is easy.  But I am saying it is indeed possible. And luckily this topic is very interesting to me...

I've been swimming in research on traumatic brain injury for some writing projects, and I am amazed at the stories I read.  There are some people that should not be succeeding.  They are beating all sorts of odds and making productive gains in their lives.  I have to believe that these are the people with fighting spirits--they want to live so that their story can be told.  There needs to be a voice for these warriors.

And now there is...  This project has been in the works for a while now, but the wheels are finally in motion.  I have been traveling for interviews and meetings, and writing like crazy.  I do feel that I have had more purpose after my attack, and with each tragedy in my life, I have had exponentially more purpose and drive.  Theoretically, I would be some sort of superhuman at this time in my life (or at least skip to some bonus level), but that is besides the point.  The point is that I recognize that I am a strong, capable woman that sees I need to give a voice to other warriors.  I am glad I have found my purpose, and that is what keeps me moving on.

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