Sometimes circumstances demand us to make super hard choices. Such was the case for me 2.5 years ago.
I was working in a steady job as an RN. Garth had an amazing income. We had just bought our first home together. We were the most stable and well grounded either of us had ever been. We were excited and happy and ready to settle in and make our new house into our paradise. Unbeknownst to us, past traumas have a way of asking to be dealt with once they realize you are in a safe space and may have some time to acknowledge and heal them.
I had already been actively acknowledging mine and healing them for 9 years so they raised concerns in new ways, but were relatively easy to manage with my arsenal of coping skills. Garth’s, on the other hand, had not yet breached the surface. Within days of moving in, the symptoms of their requests for attention began to show up. They grew louder and louder until they were literally screaming for him to attend to them so they could be at peace. They began to give the ultimatum that all trauma seems to give when we refuse to listen early. “Heal us or kill yourself.”
I lived in constant fear of coming home from work to find him dead or of getting a call from the police or his work that he was never coming home again. I walked on eggshells to avoid triggering him worse as I attempted to figure out what his triggers were. I told almost no one what was really going on as I spiralled further and further into overwhelm, fear, and helplessness. Between my high stress job and the fight for my husband to choose to heal, my own mental health declined rapidly. 2 months nearly to the day after moving into our new home, I broke down at work. My emotional, mental, and physical body catapulted so far past my limit that I wasn’t sure there was a way back.
But I had to fight. I had to fight for myself. I had to fight for my husband. I connected with military resources and began the process of filling out dozens of forms. Begging for any and all available help to connect us with supports and keep me from becoming a widow. Eventually we succeeded in getting funding in place to allow him to get a medical leave without having to worry about the bills not being covered. It meant he had time to get to appointments. It meant we had a fighting chance to get him treatment. It meant I had less time with him out of my sight worrying about his safety. I yelled, “YOU WILL STAY ALIVE. I LOVE YOU.” at him more times than I could count.
One year later as he stabilized with various treatments, I made the attempt to return to work. But the panic attacks prevented me from truly getting in and doing the job I was trained to do and I had to bow out again. For another 9 months, I made every effort to heal enough to go back to my career. I kept fighting for Garth and watched him improve slowly, but steadily. I painfully came to the realization that now is not the time to step back into a field where high emotional stress is the lowest setting on a good day and I handed in my resignation.
Two days later, a worldwide pandemic shut down our country. I have never felt more relieved and guilty about a decision. Suddenly, my training was the most valuable commodity to my country. But, my and my husband’s health were the most valuable commodity to me. I stuck to my guns even as I felt like a complete failure. When I finally had the courage to share how I was feeling with a friend, they said, “You made the bravest and most selfless decision possible. You chose your family.”
It’s taken me three and a half months since my last official day of employment and my husband nearly getting killed in a motorcycle accident and him needing me now more than ever as he heals from these new traumas compounding his old to realize that I have chosen wisely. That this abrupt pivot, while challenging and uncertain, is not incompetence or a failure. It’s a chance to practice unconditional love to the extreme and find new ways to do what lights me up. Care about and help people. Find and spread beauty.
I will never claim to have all the answers. But, I am incredibly good at asking questions (just ask my husband and watch him roll his eyes) and listening to the answers. I know I don’t always communicate perfectly. Sometimes I can’t find the words. And sometimes I scream, “YOUR LIFE IS WORTH LIVING. I LOVE YOU!” when I’m desperate.
But always. ALWAYS. I care.
I am certified as a Makeup Artist (MUA) and have a natural/honed talent for writing. These skills, along with my lived experience with handling trauma and my training/lived experience as a RN, make me an incredible force for good. I honour my talents and spread my sparkle to the world. My family and our health will always be my first priority and my top commitment, but I am finding ways to incorporate my talents to expand beyond our home while working from our home.
Excited to serve you. Thank you for welcoming us on your journey.
Dance. Fight. Care.
*All parts of this joint journey story have been okayed for publication by the Sparkle King, Garth A. C. Tanner.