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What if?

There are so many “what if…” questions a survivor contemplates after being raped.

For me, What if I had checked the locks on my windows? What if I had spent the night at my aunt’s house like I had considered? What if my dog was still alive? What if my roommate hadn’t of moved out? What if I had a security system? What if I had never met Zane in the first place?

Everyone’s what ifs are different. And if you (survivor) are anything like me, you’ll keep coming up with new what ifs. The more I come up with, the more complex they get, irrational or not. Thankfully I have been doing this less and less (yay, healing)…

But the one what if that has been most impactful recently is: What if I had died?

What if I was meant to die on November 18th of 2018? What if the world was meant to go on without me? What if my son was meant to grow up without his mother? What if this is all borrowed time?

Upon reading this, you’re probably thinking that these are very morbid thoughts. Sure, they probably are. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it. It also doesn’t mean that it is entirely unhealthy for me to think about. (Keep reading).

Healing from trauma sometimes includes having to talk about things people don’t want to hear about. Most of the time the only person or people hearing these thoughts from a survivor is a therapist, close friends, or family. But here I am – telling you my morbid thoughts publicly. I know many of you are thinking about God or a higher power and how this relates. I respect that, appreciate that, and am trying to become more religious and spiritual myself (inspired by the amazing influence I have been receiving – additional small steps in healing). But in this blog tonight, I am here on earth, in this moment, living in this beautiful life I’ve been blessed to keep... because of a higher power? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Someday my lion cub may come across this blog and read about these feelings. This is hard for me to think about. (I also think a lot about what Zane’s kiddos will see and I will be cautious with my words because of this). But would you hide from your child, forever, how hard it was for you to battle cancer or when you experienced a significant loss when they were young? Maybe. And that’s your call, 100%. But I think that children learn from how parents respond to things. When something makes me really sad, I cry because it is okay to cry. Admittedly, I often tried not to as to “be strong for my son,” but that is also showing him that adults should bottle up their emotions and we should be “tough” and “tough it out.” Sure, if a kiddo falls down and scrapes his knee, maybe pretending like you didn’t see it is okay… But what I have recently learned is that when I experience trauma or loss or heartbreak, it is okay for my son to see me cry. It is okay for my son to see my best friend make me laugh until my cheeks hurt. It is okay for him to see me upset when I am wronged and frustrated when something doesn’t go my way (all within reason, of course), just as it is okay for my son to see my happiness when he tells me he loves me. Then with all these feelings, he sees how I handle them and handle myself. I learn, I grow, I continue on more experienced.

Yesterday morning I added one more piece to my memoir. I thought I had officially finished it the night before, but I remembered one last thing that I needed to add: a letter to my little boy for him to read when he finds my book when he is all grown up. And my dearest lion cub, if you ever find this blog, (as you’re sitting next to me cuddled under a heated blanket completely innocently oblivious to the rollercoaster of emotions I’m experiencing as my fingers type away on my computer), know that the strength and courage I possess comes from being your mother and living this life with you.

But of all of the strength, courage, bravery, and new light that I see having survived looking down the barrel of a gun doesn’t completely diminish the feeling of What if I was meant to die?

What would the world look like without me? How would my son grow up without me? How would my parents and my sister be living without me? Maybe my best friend would have never gotten a motorcycle. He certainly wouldn’t have found as awesome of a riding partner. (Hah!)

As morbid as these thoughts are, they’re also very enlightening. I didn’t die. I was given a second chance at life by the withholding of four simple pounds of pressure on the trigger of that 9 mm handgun. I can’t explain this feeling and I think a person can only understand by having gone through something similar themselves.

It feels like the warm, spring sun on your face after a long, cold winter. It feels like a first kiss, butterflies and all. It feels like seeing your child for the very first time, when you hold them in your arms and can’t believe that you created a human life. It feels like Christmas morning, every morning, with day full of God’s gifts: sun, air, love, hope, dreams, opportunities, and life. It’s all of these feelings combined into every single day. It feels like your life has just begun, and you’re finally able to live.

Here I am trying to describe how freeing experiencing the worst day of my life is, but it simply cannot be done in just words. Instead, I shall show you day after day with each breath that I take that life sure as hell is beautiful.

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I like your way with words. Full of emotion and depth, yet simple and easy to understand. "What if?" There are other events that can take place in our lives that can conjure up a plethora of "what ifs?" What if I did not begin drinking again on my wedding day? What if I had learned more quickly on how to maintain a healthy and active mind in the "dead of winter", Minnesota? What if I had left my ex-wife's house and had taken a break, get my head straight, back in California with my family? What if I would have separated from my wife and spend most of my time working on improving myself, instead of continued contact with…

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