Have you ever woken up from a nightmare? Adrenaline rushing, sweat soaked sheets, fear gripping your whole being? It's quite frightening, isn't it?
In the past couple of months, the flashbacks to the morning of January 23rd have intensified and my physical reaction to these flashbacks are equal to waking up from a nightmare. The only problem is that when you wake up from a nightmare, the dream is over. A flashback is often defined as a sudden and disturbing vivid memory of an event in the past, typically as the result of trauma. It's not a nightmare you wake up from. It's a nightmare you experienced in real life.
When these flashbacks occur, it's like I am right there, and that morning is playing itself out again...the scream, like no scream I have ever heard, that I heard from Jason when he found Mikail; the lifeless body of our boy when I came running to his side; the police arriving, confirming our worst nightmare, that he was gone; EMS; detectives; statements; coroner; leaving the house with one child in the back of our truck instead of two...all of it as clear as though it had just happened...except that this time guilt takes over.
We should have...
Often these flashbacks come around 3 a.m. It's really a horrible time of the night for many people. Nothing is clear in the middle of the night. We don't think clearly. We can't trust our thoughts. Things get twisted. It can paralyze us if we let it. I know that in my head, but how do I translate that to my heart? I know in my head that there is nothing we could have or should have done differently, yet the Why? How? Should haves scream extra loudly in the darkness of night. Guilt comes alive in those hours of darkness.
Recently I've come to a conclusion that perhaps I am re-living that morning as part of the process of seeing that we live in a broken world. There is no one to blame. Bad things happen when you live in a broken world. The problem is that when there is no one to blame and you need someone to blame, the only one left to blame is oneself? I sometimes think it is more difficult to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive another person.
True forgiveness is an extension of love and grace. Why is it so difficult to extend that love and forgiveness to ourselves?
So, I've found myself at a crossroad: forgive myself and move forward, or delve deeper into the darkness and allow bitterness to take over?
I am choosing to forgive myself. Sometimes it happens several times a day, but it's a process, right? In my head I know that there's nothing to forgive. I did the best I knew how at the time. Yet, my heart expects more of myself, so we have this war; my head and my heart. My head knows, but my heart aches and yearns to have Mikail back in my arms; back in our lives where he belongs. So I'm learning to quiet the Whys and the Hows and the Should Haves of my heart. When they come up, I pray:
Father, forgive me. I did the best I knew how.
Help me to heal, remember with joy, and move forward with hope.
Fill our hearts and our home with true joy again.
The 3 a.m. demons are moving out and peace comes in their place.